It’s very difficult when a parent makes a racist remark – how do you react? Do you call them out on it and risk upset or an argument? Do you try and make light of it or just brush it under carpet, even though that doesn’t feel right to you?
Here are some tips on how you might be able to manage that awkward conversation:
Choose your moment
Try not to react angrily if you hear a parent saying something you disagree with. Find a quieter time and place where you can speak calmly and rationally. If you can’t do that, or have to counteract their words straight away, do it without anger.
Talk about how you feel
Telling them how you feel, when they say/do things you consider racist or racially biased is important. No one can be blamed for how they feel but it is important to consider how you act on your feelings, and if you need to challenge someone’s words this should be done with the aim of helping them to understand the impact of their words or attitudes. However, it is important to remember that, while it is acceptable to have discussions and opinions about race, outright hate speech, which stirs up racial hatred for example, and other forms of prejudiced behaviour may be a crime and can be prosecuted.
Ask them to clarify what they say
“When you say ‘xxxx’, what do you mean?” Don’t put words into their mouth, but you might want to ‘reflect’ their words back to them by quoting them directly. This gives them a chance to think about how their words are received by others and to open up a discussion where opinions can be aired and challenged on both sides.
Ask how they would react if they found themselves in the same situation
Try to find out what their feelings would be if they were the person they are speaking negatively about. For instance, if they were being spoken to or about in a certain way or treated unfairly because of an aspect of their identity. While we can never put ourselves in the shoes of someone who is targeted by racist or discriminatory actions, we can begin to empathise and understand by thinking about how these actions affect them.
Remember that this is a huge issue that will not be solved overnight. Many racist attitudes and biases are the product of upbringing and a sense of “that’s how it’s always been”, and it is hard for people to let go of this and start thinking differently. But everyone taking a stand and considering their own unconscious (or conscious) bias will help to improve the social climate and create a fairer world for everyone.
By Stop Hate UK
Stop Hate UK is one of the leading national organisations working to challenge all forms of Hate Crime and discrimination. Visit their website or follow them on Instagram to stay up the date with their continuing work.
You can donate to Stop Hate UK here: http://www.stophateuk.org/donate-to-stop-hate-uk/