How I Talk to White People About Racism
Clay Rivers

Clay, I clicked on the BlackLivesMatter tag and yours is the first article I’ve read. Really glad on both points!

Thank you for your patience, your focus on mutual respect, and your emphasis on active listening.

One thing I was curious to hear more about is your silver bullet #2, “calling people out.” It seems that there are three fundamental reasons for doing this, if I understand correctly:

  1. To make it clear to others that racist banter is not funny, is not acceptable.
  2. To help others understand that that specific comment or joke was racist, even if the intent was fully benign.
  3. And to educate the individual making the racist remarks that such behavior isn’t right and won’t be met with assent-through-silence.

How can this be done in an educational, friendly, non-confrontational way? Or is it actually important to have, at least in some way, a confrontation?

I guess what I find at odds sometimes is how one can be (and be seen as) civil and kind while educating someone who is being racist (or sexist, or — thank you for mentioning this — heightist) without causing that person to become defensive and angry vs. enlightened. I’d hope the goal would be to help that person think — and say —” hmm, I’m sorry. And thank you.” But I’m not sure how feasible that is on the whole.

Like what you read? Give Adam Lasnik a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.