How to deal with racism is one trending topic that has been around for a while. It appears you can no longer turn the news on without seeing news like hate riots, crimes, and police violence caused by racism. But first, what is racism, and what can be done to fight racism? Learning about racism and knowing how it affects you is the first and most important step you must take in trying to fight it when you experience it personally, witness discrimination or racist acts, or when you find race and racism as regular topics in the media.
How to Deal With Racism: 8 Things You Can Do When Facing Racism
Know that you are not over-reacting
Things like harassment, unintentional racial discrimination acts that do not last for too long might not look like a big deal to others, but it should stop once it starts bothering you.
According to some studies, colored people often experience these racial discriminations daily, but perpetrators often deny the fact that they did anything wrong or that the acts they put up were motivated by racism. This can often leave colored people feeling they are merely imagining things, or bothered that their experiences when they say something will probably be invalidated by denial.
Ask “What do you mean?”
At the moment, one easy tip on how to deal with racism and all racially discriminatory comment is by playing Columbo. Whenever you get faced with comments like, you look too pretty for a dark girl or you do not look like most Asian guys, just ask the simple question, what do you mean?
Most times, they start explaining what they meant, which shows they have realized that they made the wrong statement. Residual awkwardness will happen, but some lessons must be learnt in a relatively gentle manner, and you won't need to engage in any argument or deliver a lecture.
Now, it is quite possible that they will continue digging themselves into a tight corner, and it is at this point we proceed to…
Don't be afraid
There are times we wish to call a friend to order and let him/her know they really said something that didn't go down well with us, but we refrain from doing so in order not to hurt their feelings. But the truth remains that you are the one who ends up with a hurt feeling and gets offended in the end. You are the one who goes around with a feeling of betrayal and walk around in low spirits as a result of the comment from a friend all through the day. Speaking up is completely within your powers. You can let the friend know that his/her comments make you somewhat uncomfortable. Putting your feelings first is quite okay.
Be direct with your peers
Accepting or dealing with racism simply to avoid causing any form or friction among your friends is never an obligation you must fulfill. There is nothing right about racism and you reserve the right to speak about it.
Once you see any of your friends behaving in a way you feel if too racist, you must not waste time to point out why that behavior is unacceptable. But make sure you use the right approach; you must first recognize the fact that most people will always try to get defensive once they are called out, so using more tact will make them a whole lot more receptive to whatever you say.
Deal with racism in a group setting
Your approach to dealing with an offensive comment or act from a member of your group might be effective or not depending on a number of factors. When you point out racist behavior in a group, decide your main goals: do you wish to let all present understand that you won't take that kind of comment, or do you wish to sustain a relationship with someone who probably did something unintentionally offensive?
Calling out racist behavior before people, instead of addressing it privately, allows the entire group to know that you will not take such behaviors being directed at you. However, it equally makes people more defensive when they get called out before their friends.
Once you feel it was an inadvertent behavior and preserving the perpetrator's feelings is of much importance to you or you still wish to preserve your relationship with that particular person, then the best thing to do is to let it slide temporarily, and later request if you can discuss it with them privately. Waiting to talk about it has a number of drawbacks; one is that it is possible for the person to forget the exact thing they said or the context under which they said it, and one more thing is that it sends a clear message to the group that you won't consider challenging such a behavior.
Distance yourself if they refuse to respect you
Ok, you have hinted this particular friend of yours that you are not comfortable with their stereotype, making very ignorant comments, and offending you directly. While still letting off some slurs of laughter. It shouldn't go beyond this for any reason. You must have to distance yourself from this particular person. This can be a tough decision, no doubt, but it is the right thing to do since they are not giving you the respect you deserve. This toxic friendship just has to end, and you deserve a better treatment than that. You deserve to hang out with the kind of friends that won't make you feel too small.
Take care of yourself
It can be quite tasking to endure racism, and it can also be a whole lot traumatizing. Don't fail to have yourself surrounded with several people you can trust and find some time to build a good emotional and psychological strength.
Stress from trying to cope with racism can have huge impacts on all aspects of your life, which includes your mental wellness, academic performance, and even be a major risk factor for different diseases.
Become a part of some student associations for colored students, political associations, or any other such affinity groups to help you meet and network with other people who are experiencing similar problems. Discuss with your close friends and family members on stressful episodes and how best to cope. According to studies, having people you can discuss common negative experiences with is a very important factor when it comes to coping with all kinds of racism-related stress and trauma.
Attempt to understand
Racism has root in a lot of things, but I would say that the fear of the unknown is the main driving force backing most informal racist ideologies. It could be possible that this person never had the privilege of growing up in a place where there are several diversities, or has always lived in some kind of wired bubble where making rude remarks about others and their races with such reckless abandon in a well-mixed company was quite acceptable. Try and be the better individual by trying to understand how this could possibly work out, try to understand where these people are coming from-but make sure this does not in any way affect your indignation. You must try and own that, whether you are only a little bit pissed off or very angry.
One sitting is never enough to change people's way of thinking, but you can do whatever it takes to let them know how wrong they are. With all these tricks and tips on how to deal with racism, you should be able to handle any kind of situation you come across, ranging from random harassment on the street to the attitude of an annoying colleague.
Best of luck!