I am in a group of friends of 5 people. We're all white, male, in our mid to late twenties. The group was formed from working together on the same group projects at the university. Obviously, over time, friendships are formed and the level of comfort within the group increases. It is common to make jokes amongst ourselves and just talk about random topics.

Lately, I've begun to notice that one member (let's call him Bob) of the group tends to occasionally make racially insensitive remarks. They haven't been necessarily malicious but they are of quite poor taste. Now, I understand that sometimes people let loose in a group of friends and make jokes that you maybe wouldn't make anywhere else, however it makes me feel uncomfortable and even embarrassed whenever Bob makes the jokes that he has been making.

Couple of examples:

1) Another friend (Charlie) was approached in the gym by a black woman offering to play ping-pong with him. From what Charlie said, the woman seemed to have an unusual laugh and voice which made Charlie laugh and tell us all about in the group chat, which in itself is fine - sometimes you meet a person that has a weird trait and it makes you laugh, fine. However, when discussing the matter, Bob jumped in and felt it was necessary to bring that woman's skin color into the discussion. He went as far as comparing the woman to an ape and then making a generalization that all black people are apes. - Not only does it feel in extremely poor taste but also ignorant. Humans have all evolved from apes so why was there a need to say specifically that black people are apes?

2) A slightly vulgar comic was shared in our group chat about a white farmer molesting his sheep. Bob didn't appreciate the comic because it was "factually incorrect". He felt like the skin color of the farmer was not accurate. He didn't specify which skin color it should've been but made it clear that the skin color of the farmer should be changed for the comic to be funny.

We all live in Europe in the same city so growing up we weren't really exposed to diversity. However, you would think that someone obtaining their master's degree would have a little bit more sense and acceptance in them. Not only are Bob's racial jokes unfunny and offensive, they also make him sound ignorant and like a racist. I also feel embarrassed for him because I feel like if anyone outside from our group saw those jokes, they would think Bob is a moron and by association so would everyone else in the group.

The other people in the group do not seem to be bothered by it. They don't encourage Bob but they surely don't make it known that the jokes are in poor taste. Generally they insert a generic smiley as a reaction to those jokes.

I've made it known that I am bothered by these jokes (specifically said it after the 1st example). As expected, the response was that I'm overreacting and people are just having fun. Any further Bob's jokes, I've just ignored to make it clear that I want no part in that.

So the question is, how am I supposed to deal with that kind of person? Bob is actually a nice person most of the time and his jokes are often funny, it's just that those specific jokes really bother me. So, how can I make Bob stop those racist jokes?

P.S. I'm also not really a confrontational person so I'd often rather not confront someone about an issue.

  • Any reason this type of jokes has a particular effect on you? What do you do about sexist jokes?
    – AsheraH
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:11
  • I haven't actually noticed any sexist jokes in our group chat. At least I can't think of any. And I do generally get annoyed by sexist comments when I see my female friends be harassed online. Part of the reason these jokes and comments annoy me is because when I'm friends with someone, and the friend says insensitive comments, I can't help but feel partly responsible for that behavior. If I ever said those things, I would be extremely embarrassed.
    – Raskkii
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:24
  • 2
    Welcome to IPS! Unfortunately, asking "what should I do" is off-topic here. That's why I edited your post to ask "How can I make Bob stop those racist jokes?" instead. Feel free to edit back if you don't want to ask that.
    – Ael
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 14:27
  • @Noon Indeed. The minority they are discriminating is a different one, but the answer would be the same.
    – Philipp
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:18
  • Hey, I marked your question as a possible duplicate. If you think that the answers there won't help you, please edit to let us know why it's different/not a duplicate.
    – Ael
    Commented Nov 12, 2018 at 15:18


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