Occasionally I hear or encounter "it's because I'm <historically oppressed quality>" as a response to an objectionable request to the claimant. The claimant is usually a minor who in my experience is 1.) Not very respectful in general and 2.) Not old enough to really remember when requests/demands typically were because they were <quality> as a primary reason. They are using this tactic because they apparently have no reasonable response to the request, but don't want to comply or want to be contrary.

At this point, in the claimant has derailed the conversation past the point of the request, and any negative thing said to the claimant will be because they are <quality>, with no regard to what was going on. Ex: If I ask the neighbor kids to turn down their music, it's no longer about the fact that the music is disruptive to both my sanity and my windows, it's now about their <quality>. How can I respond to this claim while still maintaining composure and the upper hand?

Edit in response to @Catija with the reason I'm asking: Yesterday I asked my the teenaged children of my neighbor, who are black (I am white), to turn down their garage stereo in the evening (they use the garage as a recreational area). They turned it down, but soon after the request they turned it back up again. I returned slightly more irritated and reminded them not everyone was on summer break, to which they responded "It's because we're black isn't it". This is in Kansas. At this point I felt like I had no possible response.

At the same time, I've also heard (in the same vein) "it's because I'm a woman" and "you're doing this because I'm gay". I could easily extrapolate this behavior to any given minority group.

Edit 2: While I understand and appreciate @Passerbyes challenge to the frame of the question (What if I were the problem?), this question works much better if it is read in good faith that I acted based on racially-agnostic motivations.

I tried adding a few tags that I feel could be helpful, but they aren't included as part of this stack. "Bigotry" and "Respect" are both missing and I can't find any synonyms. Could a more veteran user tag this question appropriately?

  • I honestly think this question needs to be refined to one topic/example. It's too broad imo.
    – user57
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 0:24
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    Just a reminder that black people are not a minority.
    – Mathemats
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 1:59
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    @mathemats That depends on where you are. In some places it's true, in other places it's not. Such phases as encountered by the OP are seldom used by persons not in a minority group in a given location. An African isn't likely to use that line in Liberia, but an Hispanic might. That's why context is so important on this site.
    – User 27
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 20:19

3 Answers 3


It is perfectly reasonable to say no, and give them a legitimate reason for your actions. In the loud music example, think of the reasons why you might feel justified in asking them to turn it down. Is it at a time of the day where it is violating municipal noise control bylaws? Are other neighbors bothered by it too? Is the music profane? In any of these cases, you can calmly respond to their accusation with "no, the reason why I want you to turn it down is because it is nearly midnight and I have to work early tomorrow morning". However, note that if you don't have a legitimate reason then it is possible (depending on context, not sure what exactly you're thinking of) that you might not have a right to request something of them.

Also as an aside, you may want to be careful with this statement:

...and 2.) Not old enough to really remember when some form or oppressive >request/demand was because they were <quality>.

Making the assumption you know exactly what these minors have experienced can have a tendency to escalate a situation. For example, just because a black teenager in the US wasn't around when slavery was prolific doesn't mean they don't experience racism. Again, I don't know what situation you're faced with specifically but I can see how this type of attitude might cause people to feel defensive or dismissive.

Added my comment to the original post as per @Catija's request:
I have been on both sides before! I have rejected a suitor for a date and he proceeded to ask (quite angrily) if it was because of his race. I said no to him and explained my reasons. He did seem to calm down. I suppose I meant in the original post that having reasons allows for a discussion about the request. On the other hand, I did ask someone once if he didn't like a movie character because she was a woman. He gave me reasons, and I told him why I felt his reasons were unreasonable. After our discussion he changed his position on the matter!

  • Oops I see your example was just added! I think my response still applies, I just wanted to note that I saw your edit.
    – kem
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 18:45
  • I appreciate your thoughtful response to your second point. I also think it's worth noting that, assuming it's not prohibited by statute or neighborhood bylaw, the request is simply a request and they needn't comply with it. That being said, I'm not sure how saying "no" to the statement "is it because I'm black" helps much in the situation. What do you think the response to "no" would be? Have you been in this situation before?
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 18:49
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    I have been on both sides before! I have rejected a suitor for a date and he proceeded to ask (quite angrily) if it was because of his race. I said no to him and explained my reasons. He did seem to calm down. I suppose I meant in the original post that having reasons allows for a discussion about the request. On the other hand, I did ask someone once if he didn't like a movie character because she was a woman. He gave me reasons, and I told him why I felt his reasons were unreasonable. After our discussion he changed his position on the matter!
    – kem
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 18:54
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    That sort of personal account is the sort of thing we're really hoping to see in the answers here. It's one thing for a person to answer a question but without the support of personal experience or references (the latter of which can be difficult to come by) but otherwise we will end up with a bunch of "I think this might work" suggestions that have no basis in reality. Please consider adding that anecdote to your answer.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 18:57
  • I think this is a wonderful answer! Focusing on the objective reasons behind an action or decision is always the way to go. :)
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 19:08

In some cases people really feel like you wouldn't make the request of someone who wasn't a minority. They might actually be thinking that if they were "white kids playing white music" you wouldn't have a problem.

It's worth understanding the perspective of kids who grow up in oppressed minority groups... If you are routinely treated differently, you come to expect to be treated differently. Their response may have been immature, but it isn't entirely unreasonable to question the motives of others when the motives of others often negatively​ effect them.

With that out of the way, on to solutions...

Rather than approaching the teens directly, talk to their parents. This may mean waiting till the parents get home, but it's probably a better way to deal with angsty kids.

"Hey, sorry to be a bother, but your kids have been blasting their music again. I asked them to turn it down, but they got a little rude about it."

As a general rule it's better to ask parents to deal with their kids. Particularly in neighborly relationships, where you're going to be in close proximity for a long time, it's better to handle things gently and maintain and respect boundaries.

If the parents aren't an option, for whatever reason, a compromise may go a long way towards​ working things out with the kids themselves.

"Hey, nice music! I have to be up early tomorrow, would you mind turning it down after time? I could care less if you guys want to blast it during the day, but please let us old folks get some sleep at night."

To be completely honest, I don't think there's a one size fits all response to "it's because I'm "

When this happens to me my response is usually to question why they feel that way. This accomplishes two things, first it gives them a chance to articulate why they feel I'm being inappropriate, and second It gives me a chance to check my own behavior in that light.

Sometimes these things are just misunderstandings, but to be completely honest, there have been times where I needed to adjust my behavior.

Starting a real conversation with someone about race/sex/gender/religion etc. isn't easy, but in my experience both parties usually benefit from the exchange.

P.s. You may want to drop the "historically​" part from "historically​ oppressed" while things have gotten a lot better for a lot of groups, there's still a long way to go.

  • So really the term is not "historically oppressed minority" but "historically more oppressed than now (but still having big problems) self-identified or externally identified named group".
    – RedSonja
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 8:00
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    @RedSonja shorter version being "oppressed group"
    – apaul
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 8:18
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    To quote Resetti: """When ya don't care 'bout somethin', ya "couldn't care less." If ya "could care less," that means ya still care. It ain't that tough. "Couldn't care" means ya don't care. Stop carin' 'bout stuff ya don't care 'bout! NOW, SCRAM!"""
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 19:33

I am not seeing how it is difficult to respond in this specific situation. You can merely say back, "No, it is because you are being loud & rude since you already are aware the noise level is bothering me".

There are times when it is totally reasonable to say that something about you (race gender, etc) may be having a specific impact on an interaction. If you had people over to visit, sitting around on a hot day, (men, women & children), and a few men had removed their shirts because it was so hot, and then a female sitting there did so, and you asked her to put her shirt back on, then it would be fair to say, "Because I am a woman, right?" If however, no one else has removed a shirt, except for the woman, then she is being ridiculous to ask such a thing, as there is no precedent to assume her being a woman has impacted the request.

If someone is blasting music I hate (country comes to mind for me) then I am more likely to request it be turned down than if it's something I typically enjoy. I think that is totally normal though. If you are going to blast my favorite songs, I am more likely to feel less bothered. So music selection can for sure impact if you are asked to turn it down or not, in general, for all of us. In that case, then culture could play a role in it. That said, it also isn't a reason to object to a request to turn it down. When you live closely with other people you really should endeavor not to infringe on their space, with anything, even your noise. I have kids. I do not allow them to scream & carry on outside because I assume my child-free neighbors would prefer to not hear it all day. I don't care that it's noon. To my knowledge screaming your head off is not a requirement to fun. It is sad to me that we have such little consideration for one another that we have to rely on noise ordinances to just not be excessively loud. My neighbors have never complained about it & if they needed to, I'd feel like I messed up.

I am not sure the neighbor situation you have overall, but for me, I don't usually try to deal directly with teens. I haven't seen it be terribly effective. I am polite & kindly address the parents. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, there is the mismatch of power between a minor child & an adult. So if there is a choice, I will never address the kids directly. If I must, then I will, and it likely won't be fruitful and I will need to sort out talking to parents later anyway. That brings me to secondly, which is that I have much better luck getting parents to enforce behaviors on their teens than I could ever hope to get over talking to them myself. And thirdly, if you talk to the kids first, then the parents, kids will often paint you in a significantly different light than what actually happened. As I mentioned, this can be because they do in fact see you as a bit more threatening than you see yourself, based on just age. It can also be because some kids are liar, liar, pants on fire & want to make you out to be unreasonable. The latter is generally the most likely case, and some parents will believe them, so I'd rather skip that & go straight to mom if I can.

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