173

Recognise your own biases When someone from a minority group says "that's racist/sexist/homophobic/etc" and the retort from someone from a majority group is, more or less, "no it isn't" This is phrased in extremely general terms. The example you added to the question is quite clear-cut, but in other situations which fall within the scope of the quoted ...


110

I've been the white person in that situation, and probably more blundering than I want to admit. I have friends who are black, gay, and transgender, and all of them have had to deal with clueless majority people expecting them to be always-on ambassadors for their groups. It's exhausting. (As a member of a minority religion I get some of this from your ...


83

I feel like what you did is one of the most positive things you can do in this situation for a couple of vital reasons. You avoided escalating an awkward situation into a heated debate You want to avoid this in your workplace. Putting him in a position to explain what he meant by the comment leaves him feeling uncomfortable, like he possibly could've gotten ...


65

The problem is all about the tone and how it causes the first impression of your argument to shift. I've had this issue for years, and even with close friends I get incredibly frustrated when pointing out certain things. Say a friend of mine makes jokes about autism and about how some behavior is "just such an autistic thing to do" in a demeaning way. Now ...


56

If you find it funny, laugh. If you don't, it would be polite to smile. I think it could be helpful to understand something about why a joke like this is funny, at least to a certain audience. When minorities make jokes targeted at their own minority group, it is typically done as a way to express frustration towards negative stereotypes about that group, ...


54

A friend of mine shut me down pretty effectively by saying: I'm not a spokesman for my race. (She's African American, and she say's I'm "the 2nd whitest white person I know") To be honest, I was a bit stung at the time because I was honestly, earnestly, and I guess a bit naively trying to understand - which I think is exactly what you're dealing with. ...


53

First, let me explain why your friend has a problem with "all lives matter." It sounds like a rebuttal, like you're correcting the person who said Black Lives Matter. I've seen analogies like "if someone says Save the Whales you don't say All Marine Mammals Matter" or if one house on the block is on fire, you don't spray water on the house across the street ...


51

Well, I'm not straight, I'm white, but I'm not a man, so let me see if my experiences in the world can help any here. Advance forgiveness, I am sure a lot of what I say you might already know (otherwise I don't think you'd be here asking this thing in this way), but I want to try to make it as approachable to a maximum number of humans as possible. One of ...


33

I can give you personal experience. I was in a similar type of conversation with a coworker once, but I was in the place of your coworker. I said something that my coworker took as being racist. (Though I didn't intend it to be). My coworker simply said "This conversation is making me a little uncomfortable." That simple statement hit me like a ton of ...


33

I think you have already managed to point out the problem yourself. Your behaviour often leads to a further entrenching of positions instead of a form of productive dialogue where both people can learn. This is because your approach is very aggressive and I don't fault you for that! You feel that the world is unfair towards you or a chosen group you think ...


31

If you're sincerely interested in mending your reputation and relationships in this group, then the first step is to loosen your grip on this premise: ...that I was a racist and made racist comments to him. This is completely fabricated. Why should you reconsider this? Because the way to resolve an interpersonal conflict is to listen to the other party ...


31

I think the only way is to try to gently point out their lack of perspective and encourage empathy with outside perspective. Actually engage with their ideas about why it's not a problem; otherwise you are saying they need to listen to you but not vice-versa. Still, you're not going to often just change someones mind in conversation, that's just how it is. ...


29

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 ...


27

Use black (adjective, the color) itself to describe the person, if absolutely necessary, i.e. black person or dark-skinned or dark-complexioned. Never refer to them or address them as a black (noun). And completely avoid terms like negro, nigger, colored etc. An example from BBC News. Benedict Cumberbatch has apologised after using the term "coloured" ...


25

One thing I'd ask is why you're taking one position as gospel and dismissing the other so completely that you're trying to figure out how to politely tell them that they're wrong without giving them a tactful way to continue the conversation? These are complicated and controversial issues; there will naturally be skeptics when you discuss it in mixed ...


20

First I'd like to say that I am a straight white male, but I don't think that disqualifies me from being able to answer. If it helps, I have two older sisters among many other female friends, my eldest brother is homosexual, my nephew has autism, and I have numerous friends of different ethnic backgrounds, all of which I love dearly. (stated to hopefully ...


19

You can not fight intolerance with more intolerance This little pearl of wisdom comes from a friend of mine. Sorry for the story, but I think it will help make some sense of this. My wife and I were being married, I ask my friend to be best man. He is black, my wife and I are white. I asked him because of all my friends (I don't have many) he is the one ...


18

I saw your update: POLITELY, RESPECTFULLY BUT FIRMLY Polite, respectful and firm: "I'm sure you have good intentions [polite to assume good will] and while I respect people's viewpoints, I intensely dislike this discussion. I am glad that you will respect my preference [respectful as you're assuming the "sale" of them ending the topic]." It's also very ...


17

Make racist remarks back at him? NOPE. When they go low, you don't. You have two equally valid options remaining: Tell the teacher. or Ignore him. If this is a one-off retaliation after he got the punishment, I'd suggest ignoring it. Once ignored, maybe there's no longer an issue from him. But if he continues, then report it to the teacher, or even ...


17

People generally don't like being accused of (or being called out for, depending on the side you're viewing it from) racism. They likely don't see themselves as racist; a racist to them is an N-word spewing KKK-member. And no-one likes to be judged. So instead of telling her what not to say, ask her about the judgement she passed on those neighbourhoods. ...


15

Laughing...? Racist jokes are hideous only because there are actually people with racist views, who tell these jokes to mock minorities. However, jokes are meant to make people laugh. Since you ruled out racism as the reason why he told that joke, I assume you can safely laugh from the joke your colleague made if you found it funny, as I assume it was his ...


14

Honestly, there's not much you can do. If that was his perception of the situation, it'll stick in his head for awhile. But given what happened, it doesn't sound like he really took it that personally. It was most likely awkward to him, but not the kind of thing that would have him label you as a racist. The thing that might stick in his head is how much ...


13

I hate to use tired old expressions in answering questions - it seems lazy, like I'm just spouting platitudes. But this question involves a degree of anticipating what other people might think, and rightly or wrongly a lot of people subscribe to the sayings I'm going to list: "There's no smoke without fire" If they've heard a rumour that you said something ...


12

Option 2 seems to be the most viable option. But I have a story that I think you'll appreciate. I am from India. Attended school in India. Bullying is a big thing in India, but never something actually addressed. The term bullying is not a recognized as something that needs to be addressed. When you go to the teacher about someone bullying you, you usually ...


12

I'd say first thing is you have to get this idea out of your head of "racist" being some permanent binary thing that either you are or aren't. Pretty much everyone who grew up in the USA learned as a child to identify and classify people according to the US racial system. The instant they started doing that, the brain does what its best at and starts ...


12

I think that motivations for not wanting to engage are not as important as the overall desire to engage or not. If someone wanted to ask me questions about something that I didn't want to talk about, I'd respond with "Thanks for asking; I don't discuss that with others." When I say that, I smile and try to be as gracious as possible. I find that the ...


12

You may have run into a culture clash. The behaviour of the German interviewer was not what you as a US candidate expected. You were asked about where you come from and interpreted that as racism, which may or may not have been the case. Some groups that are large minorities in the USA are tiny minorities in Germany, and the reaction to members of tiny ...


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