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Zer Netmouse
June 7th, 2009
06:14 pm

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Skip trying to prove you're not racist

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From:cathshaffer
Date:June 8th, 2009 01:14 am (UTC)
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Well, personally, I think it is always better to be the bigger person when you're insulted and not escalate things, whether the insult is a racial one or whatever. That said, being the bigger person does not always mean being nice. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to give someone a correction and get out of the way while they deal with it. Is it even more insulting when you share your feelings with someone and they make it all about them? Sure, it is. I get that.

Sometimes people do need to be told they have done something wrong, racist, whatever. In that case, you are 99% likely to get an ungracious response. Why ask why? Maybe they don't hear anything after you say "racist." Maybe that is all they *can* hear at that point. If that's the case, it's not wasted. That is what they are able to hear and what they need to hear at that time. Maybe the kneejerk response is "I'm not a racist," but perhaps it will sink in later. Or perhaps not. Maybe it will take a little more admonishment from others. People are very seldom converted to a new viewpoint instantly, but the angry denial and missing-the-point tirade doesn't mean that the message didn't hit home. It just may have been put in a pile on the coffee table with a lot of other unopened mail. What I hope, when talking to difficult people, is to make them curious to go through that pile thoughtfully at some time, and give them a face-saving way to apologize later, when they need to. In my personal opinion, using the culturally loaded word "racist" makes it all of that less accessible for the average white person.
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From:troubleinchina
Date:June 8th, 2009 01:19 am (UTC)
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I'm really glad we talked about this, because now I have a much different opinion about what you initially said than what I did when I first responded. I really appreciate the time you took to explain your POV. I don't agree with all of it, but a lot of what you said, I nodded along with.

I'm going to bow out now, though, because I'm irritated at Unrelated Things On The Internet, and that usually means I can no longer have adult conversations with people. Rather than risking saying something thoughtless to you, I'm going to look at pictures of ponies.
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From:cathshaffer
Date:June 8th, 2009 01:23 am (UTC)
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This exchange was valuable to me as well. I think I am missing some context for this post, since I haven't been participating in the same discussions that netmouse has. I can certainly imagine that it may seem as though I am coming in on the side of someone who has been really tiresome in some other forum.

Thank you for mentioning the ponies. Next week I will be camping with my family on Assateague Island, home of the famous wild ponies, so I am very excited about all things pony right now.
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