Help Tackling Racism (Help needed: Latinos, Blacks, Asians, Natives, Pacific Islanders, Biracials)

snowflake1814snowflake1814 WisconsinPosts: 35
I've become increasingly alarmed and disappointed in the amount of racist jokes and comments in my school recently. The thing is, I am white with no black friends (acquaintances yes, but we only talk briefly after school while leaving for home and the issue doesn't come up.) None of this is helped by the fact that it's a small town with only about 350 people in our high school, which has a total of four African-Americans in our school. There are many more Latinos, but still only about a fifth of the HS is Latino or biracial.

What I'm asking is this: Does anyone know how to respond to racism when it comes up? When it has I usually tell the people to stop, but they usually just respond saying that I "don't have a sense of humor", that it doesn't really matter, it was just a joke, "don't be so offended", "there's no black people in here anyway", etc.

Then it usually turns to me just telling the teacher after class and them having a talk, but honestly that feels like me A-Being some middle-school kid who always relies on the teacher and B- The students don't care and the problem doesn't stop.

I also have the long title because I want to know how non-whites would handle this. What would you recommend I do? I don't want to assume I know the answer or what is offensive and what is not, because I don't. As John has frequently mentioned in Vlogbrothers videos and a bit in DH&J, that we need to get better at listening to others. In this case I'm talking about third-world countries, when he says that he have to listen to them and help them in the way they say they need to be helped, not assume that we know all the solutions.

So what do other nerdfighters recommend I do? How do you non-whites suggest I help?
Memento mori


  • snowflake1814snowflake1814 WisconsinPosts: 35
    Feel like I should mention/clarify: Anyone can comment or post tips on this, even if you are white. I just don't have any strategies for going about the issue and wanted insight.
    Memento mori
  • Gara_the_engineerGara_the_engineer In a log house at the edge of the forestPosts: 596 ✭✭✭
    edited March 4
    First off, I should say that I'm white so I don't have much more insight in the issues than you do, so you'll have to take my answer for what it is: assumptions and guesses. Anyone is free to correct me.

    I once had colleagues who regularly used the Swedish version of the n-word as their way of describing someone in a disrespectful manner (they've had general disregard for anyone that's different, using "gay" as a word of insult and so on), and whenever they did, I just looked calmly at the person and asked something along the lines of "was that the best and most appropriate way you could find to describe a person?". As you may guess, one of them got tired of this after a while, getting sad and upset because I was "always nagging on him". >.>

    Likewise, with jokes, I've gotten the tip that when you hear someone telling a racist (or homophobic or whatever) joke, you just look calmly and coldly at them, utterly unamused but no other emotion and ask (equally calmly, and a bit curiously): "What's supposed to be fun with that?". And when they tell you that it's just a joke, you ask them what makes it a joke. It may take a few questions, but sooner or later they'll end up in the situation of having explained why making fun of someone is funny to them (which lays bare their disregard for other people, which makes them look (rightfully) bad in the eyes of any decent spectator). Then you just say "ah" or something like that and nothing more. Just don't say anything more after that, because their own words have probably been much better in making themselves look bad than any addition by you could to.

    Also, although you may not be able to make people change their behaviour, you do at least show that you're a person who (without being some crazy aggressive warrior on the subject) are against prejudices and a person who will protect a person when they need it. Being a person that people feel safe around is in itself an important thing in giving people safe spaces. This is something I myself have experienced at work, being a female in a heavily male-gendered branch: although I haven't encountered anything bad on my current ship, I know who I'd go to if I'd ever need it because he's very active in speaking up against unacceptable behaviours of any kind (and he's kind of a friend of mine too). Just knowing that there is such a person there is important for one's feeling of being safe and accepted.
    by Gara_the_engineer
    The meaning of life is to give life a meaning
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