I’m pretty sure I have failed at this at some point, not for fear or lack of concern, but flat out disbelief. It’s my brain trying to figure out where to start explaining to the offender what is wrong with what’s being said, each half-formed response being rejected as inadequate for the purpose of shutting the offender down. Because every response will likely be inadequate, because racist bigots are by definition unreasonable and closed-minded.
I don’t think this is an uncommon or even unreasonable response, but I also don’t think it’s good enough. If I want to see change in the world, then I need to do what is necessary to create change. If I want to call myself an ally then I need to do what is necessary to BE an ally.
So thank you for this, the hurdle for me has been exactly this: trying to find practical ways to overcome my tendency to be dumbfounded, and I’m trying to come up with reliably appropriate, supportive actions that I can manage while agape. And mainly I think it involves planning and preparation, putting thought into it, until I have a clear and ingrained picture of how I can and WILL respond... I’m going with standing shoulder-to-shoulder, and making very-angry-face, and at least getting a “fuck you” out. (though obviously hoping to pull off a clever and/or effective response at some point)
It’s also worth noting that as a white woman, I’m not subjected to racist encounters very often. Which means I haven’t been forced to spend the time (that I imagine you have) fuming over frustrating encounters and writing essays in my head about the stupidity of racists: I basically haven’t had practice. This is also not an excuse for inaction. It’s another reason to make a point of being prepared: same as taking a course on first aid or CPR.
If we want to be useful we need to make ourselves useful. We don’t get to be allies by default when inaction perpetuates the status quo.