How to deal with racism

I’ve had to deal with racism my whole life. When you’re growing up in a country that doesn’t match your skin colour it’s sort of a given that you’ll have to go through racism at some point. Its sort of like being a Kanye West fan. The music is great but at some point, you know he’s going to loose his shit.

According to Google, racism is

“The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”.

Though we often equate racism with an angry fat white man screaming at a minority, racism isn’t always necessarily negative. If you claim an entire race of people has a certain trait,good or bad, thats racist. You saying “Asians are amazing at Maths” is just as racist as saying “Hide your bike, there’s a black guy walking about”.

So we’ve established, that there are 2 kinds of racism, the good and the bad kind. But being racist isn’t bad in and of itself….

I know I know, let me finish dear. Racism is just a belief, harmless in and of itself. The problem is when people engage in racial discrimination. This is where you actually act upon your racist beliefs. In our examples above, you might engage in discrimination by giving all your Maths homework to the waiter at a Chinese restaurant. Or you might start hiding your possessions every time a rap song is played on the radio. Those things are out of line, though you have balls of steel if you do any of them.

So how do you deal with racism ? Well there are three ways.

  1. Take them out with a joke.

This method is a personal favourite of mine. As a comedian the best way to take out a heckler is with a quick witted joke. By taking them out with a joke, you hit them in their insecurities.

I was once sat a charity gala with a couple friends, when this middle aged lady who was sat at our table randomly says

“Are you going home to eat some curry?”. She smirked vindictively as she said it.

This happened out of the blue, but I didn’t change my facial expression. I just looked at her and replied

“Yeah I am. And what about those sunglasses on your head. They look like they come from the 1960's.” She took off her sunglasses and started looking at them. I than said

“Don’t worry, its the kind of style I’d expect from an old woman”.

She looked like she’d been slapped and went quiet. My friends at the table burst out laughing. She didn’t dare say anything again. We all have experience being the butt of someone’s joke so we all know how demeaning it is.

If you want to truly hurt a racist person’s feelings, use your wit to hit them where it hurts. Have a guess at what their insecurities are and exploit them. Everyone is insecure about something.

2. Ignore and report

This method isn’t nearly as flashy and cool as the first one, but its the one people will use the most. Ignore them and call the police/HR/lecturer/disciplinary team. Don’t give them the time of day just ignore it and report if you need to. It sucks but thats life sometimes and there’s not much we can do. I to am tempted to bust some heads open every now and than, but I have to control myself. If you lost control, sure you might enjoy 30 seconds of pure bliss as you beat the malicious prat to a bloody pulp, but thats nothing compared to the time in jail you’ll be spending once you’re arrested.

As Jerome Schmekles once said, “Ignore it, report it, go home and beat it.”

Words to live by.

3. Tell them what they just said is retarded.

Seriously just call them out on whatever it is you think is racist. Don’t say you found the thing they said to be offensive. All that word means is you didn’t like what was said and they still have power over you. They’ll try and make you look weak and start exaggerating about how sensitive you are. Instead tell them they’re saying things that are really stupid/moronic, than laugh at them. Use the word stupid if you don’t like the word retarded. Nobody wants to sound/look stupid so they’ll immediately go on the defensive. Thats when you know you have them.

Racist arguments are by themselves, stupid. Anytime you make blanket statements generalising an entire ethnic group, you just need one person that doesn’t fit the argument to render the whole argument obsolete. When someone tries to defend their racist viewpoints no matter how hard they try they’ll lose, because the arguments are flawed by nature.

4. Don’t take it so seriously, but set your boundaries.

When friends from different ethnic groups get together, you will inevitably discuss racial differences. Heck I do that with Pakistani people and we’re still technically the same race. Being able to joke about your differences will make you closer friends. I have plenty of White friends, Black friends, South Asian friends , East Asian friends, and we joke about our differences all the time. It makes us closer. We acknowledge how similar we are but we don’t try to hide our differences because of political correctness. Sometimes however, when you give some people an inch they take a yard.

I know some people who take things too far. All they do around me is make racist jokes, implying I’m some kind terrorist and my fellow brown friends are terrorists as well. If you say this once in a while thats ok, and depending on how tastefully you tell the joke it might funny (99% of the time it wasn’t). For the most part I used to tolerate these jokes and fake laugh all the time. I’d than have to say something back, but it was just stupid. I laughed so they wouldn’t be embarrassed, which is stupid on every level. I was giving them false positive reinforcement by pretending to enjoy their stupid, not jokes, but statements. Jokes are clever, they have a juxtaposition within them. The people I knew were saying outrageous things that took no thought at all and they would say these things ALL THE TIME. They couldn’t go 5 minutes without saying some absurd statement about one group of people or another. Eventually after listening to the things they said and comparing it to their political viewpoints, I couldn’t help but wander if they were actually expressing their true feelings.

The worst thing was when they got drunk. I managed to take one guy home after he drank too much at the club and did everything from stopping him from jumping in front of cars on the road, to taking his debit card so he would stop buying stranger’s drinks. As soon as I got him to his room the first thing he said to me was “Get out of my flat, you fucking Paki.” That was last time I would ever agree to chaperone someone on a night out.

I know another person who, after not seeing me for 3 months and agreeing to meet up, got in my car, found the seat-belt was a little rigid and said it was because I was about to commit a terror plot. Fucking really dude? We don’t see each other for 3 months and thats first thing you say after getting in my car? I let the person in question know in no uncertain terms how ‘uncomfortable’ the things they said made me. In reality I was very pissed off. Did I have a sign on my head that said “CUCKHOLD”? To the guys credit as soon as I mentioned how inappropriate his comments he stopped. Had he not stopped, I would have stopped the car, wished him well and cut all contact with him.

Set the boundaries, don’t expect other people to set them for you because they WILL take the piss.

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I know this is not a nice subject guys, and I’m sorry to all of you who will have to deal with racism at some point or another.

But hopefully this will make it easier to handle.

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