Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How to tell someone they have said or done something racist.

Here's a video I found this morning at MissCellania. What do you think?

8 comments:

Joel Monka said...

This is a very important issue for another reason as well. People often speak of working to eliminate racism. Not possible. We humans are hard wired for discriminations of many kinds, just as we are hard wired for fear of heights, loud noises, etc. We cannot eliminate either our fears or our prejudices- but we CAN learn to work through them. We CAN learn to make rational decisions rather than emotional ones, at least in those arenas in which we interact with others. So I agree with the speaker in the video- don't try to convert someone into an idealized vision of humanity that doesn't exist- just try to change behavior patterns.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Joel, I agree too. We have discriminatory behavior hard-wired in for survival reasons, but sometimes we need to set the reason for automatic behavior aside and re-program ourselves.

ogre said...

Of course, one of the most effective devices for reprogramming one's mind is to act AS-IF your thoughts were as they "ought" to be (a la The King and I).

ms. kitty said...

Good point, Ogre.

Robin Edgar said...

I generally follow the policy advocated in that video in terms of all kinds of injustices and abuses, not just discrimination. I tell the person, or those other people that they are ostensibly accountable to. . . what they did and why it is wrong. That being said however, if a person or persons, or indeed group of persons, consistently say and do things that justify saying what they *are* I do not hesitate to do that as well.

A racist, is a racist, is a racist.

Likewise an Atheist Supremacist is an Atheist Supremacist is an Atheist Supremacist. . . ;-)

For the record, I recently told UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales what he said during his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for President of the UUA. See the comment that I posted to the 'Old Friends' post on his "Along The Campaign Trail' blog. Unfortunately his poorly formatted campaign website does not provide URLs for individual pages so you will just have to go to the home page of his Peter Morales for UUA President website, click on the link to his blog and the clock on the link to the 'Old Friends' post to read what I said about what he said. I am reasonably confident that Rev. Morales has enough personal integrity not to "memory hole" my legitimate concerns about his apparent religious intolerance. Hopefully in the coming days Rev. Peter Morales will responsibly respond to my public sharing of my legitimate concerns about his rather poor choice of words about "obsolete religions" in a way that allows me to refrain from saying what he might very well *be*.

Sara said...

This point seems a bit obvious to me, but I am used to working with children and "focus on the action" is one of the main rules of discussing their misbehavior. Of course it works better and keeps the discussion focused to stick with the facts of what was done. What I would like to know is how to gently educate people as to *why* that sounded racist, if they think it was a perfectly reasonable thing to say.

ms. kitty said...

Thanks for your insights, Sara. I want to know that too!

Robin, your final paragraph is off-topic, I feel. Please stick to the topic. Thanks.

Robin Edgar said...

Rev. Kit Ketchum said, "Robin, your final paragraph is off-topic, I feel. Please stick to the topic. Thanks."

That would depend upon just how narrowly you want to define the topic Rev. Ketchum. Some people consider words or actions that discriminate against Jews or Muslims as being "racist" even though that is not really true for Muslims at least. Rev. Peter Morales effectively described Judaism and Islam as "obsolete religions, created for another time" that "lead to tribalism, violence, suspicion, hatred, and oppression" and "contribute to the darkness" of "hatred, injustice, prejudice, ignorance" in his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for UUA President. Other people would call that "discriminatory behavior" religious intolerance. Is intolerance of religions that are closely associated with specific races not a form of racism? I dare say that Rev. Peter Morales' blanket condemnation of Judaism and Islam as "obsolete religions" could be considered to be a form of anti-Semitism aka antisemitism. . . Would you like me to run Rev. Morales' "stump speech" by the Anti-Defamation League aka ADL and the Council on American-Islamic Relations aka CAIR or the Islamic Society of North America to see if they consider it to be "racist"? It might be a worthwhile exercise just to see how these organizations respond to what Rev. Peter Morales quite evidently said in his "stump speech".