to be quiet when others are racist

(73 Posts)
inthisdayandage Sat 01-Dec-12 00:40:57

A few weeks ago i had a get together with friends where some pretty racist things were said. I did not say anything as I did not want to rock the boat so to speak but i certainly did not agree. Does silence make me as bad as the racists? I am still feeling unhappy about it now- should I speak up or just let it go?

SirBoobAlot Sat 01-Dec-12 00:45:55

Its hard when people close to you say such distasteful things. My dad is a hard core Daily Fail reader, and some of the things he comes out with...

I wouldn't go as far as to say it makes you as bad, but I do think you need to tell them how much it upset you, and how inappropriate it was.

AgentZigzag Sat 01-Dec-12 00:46:52

Saying you should always challenge racism wherever you find it doesn't take into realities of the consequences of challenging it IMO.

There are other situations I can think of where it might not be the best course of action to challenge something you've heard somebody say, like a group drinking alcohol when you're walking through the park at dusk.

That's not to say it shouldn't be challenged, rather that to challenge it effectively has to take into consideration the RL situations it comes up in.

Although saying that, do you really want to socialise with people who are saying this shit?

I don't think your silence makes you as bad as your racist friends.

But, I wonder why you feel unable to rock the boat, if you feel strongly about it?

inthisdayandage Sat 01-Dec-12 00:54:22

it was ridiculous comments in a social setting so I was in no physical danger if I stood up to it. But although i did not agree i just let it go and so I now wonder if others think I share the views. It would be awkward to bring it up now so perhaps i should just avoid the people concerned. Up till now I had thought them kind and pleasant so it was surprising to say the least. Suppose i just want to distance myself but also don't like confrontation.
Good point from don'tforget - I am always very worried what people think of me and i know that is my problem but i did not like this stuff but still felt too insecure to challenge it. So even though I know it is wrong I think I thought if I say something it will make them judge me and I really worry how others see me. Stupid as in this case i would be in the right but i would still not want to be attacked by others.

Viperidae Sat 01-Dec-12 00:57:21

Sometimes discretion is the better part of valour but you may need to question your choice of friends if their attitudes upset you.

youngermother1 Sat 01-Dec-12 00:58:28

You say you are worried about being judged - do you care what people like that think of you?

Oh I can relate to that - not feeling secure enough to challenge something lest it makes you unpopular. I'm sure, in fact I know, in the past, that I've let things slide for that very reason.

If it comes up again, could you see it as a way to engage in healthy debate?

inthisdayandage Sat 01-Dec-12 01:05:27

youngermother you are right - I suppose this is a stupid issue when I look really- at the end of the day i should have spoke up and didn't so all I can do now is lead by example and stay well clear. I don't think I will be brave enough to confront them but i can definitely avoid. I just felt so shite about it all.

Spermysextowel Sat 01-Dec-12 01:05:53

As my parents' friends get older many of their comments are prefaced by 'I'm not a racist but' which is usually followed by some Daily Fail bile. My mum's Oldie group recently sent her an email boldly stating that a pensioner gets £6kpa, whilst a refugee gets £29k. Had to point out to her that this is something of a broad statement. I daresay Alan Sugar won't be counting the pennies when he retires, neither will a fair percentage if the subscribers to the magazine for olds.
It's hard to make a fuss, but yes, if you don't speak out then you're condoning what they say.
You should also consider whether you really want these people as friends if their views are really distasteful to you.

Posted too soon.

If not, try keeping acquaintance with more like-minded folk.

If their views are so objectionable to you, I'd imagine that you will not want to spend much time in their company, eh?

AgentZigzag Sat 01-Dec-12 01:09:40

You're presuming they'd attack you if you said you didn't like what they were saying, that's not necessarily the case.

Depending on what they said, they might still be perfectly nice, kind and pleasant people, but for some reason were compelled to say whatever they did for other reasons (wanting to fit in, not seeing what they said as significant, misheard what was said), although if you say something that's racist beyond doubt that would make you a racist wouldn't it?

But I mean for the same reasons you didn't say anything.

It doesn't mean for sure they're any more racist than you, it's just that it can be less black and white in some situations (not that it makes it any more right).

AgentZigzag Sat 01-Dec-12 01:12:18

If you applied it to a bullying situation, you would say that the people standing round doing nothing are complicit in the bullying.

But you know in reality that there are a multitude of reasons why people feel powerless to stop bullying, and the same could be said of your situation.


VforViennetta Sat 01-Dec-12 01:13:13

I think with most people who spout racist views, you challenging them is not going to change their minds, just provide an excuse for an argument. I have known lots of people who are generally nice and personable, who are casually racist.

I'm always a bit shocked by it, but maybe they have grown up surrounded by those views, lots of people are quite insular and never really bother to find out what is happening in the world. Just look at posters on here who suddenly became aware of the Israel/Palestine conflict.

If we were close friends and we spent a lot of time together, I would bring it up and ask that any racist language/views not be spoken around me. In a more general social setting, meh let it go, it will never end well.

AgentZigzag Sat 01-Dec-12 01:16:23

I think the blanket advice 'you shouldn't tolerate it or you're just as bad' is given to help people decide whether they should speak out or not, rather than a condemnation of them as a person.

If you think the consequences are too much for you to bear then the answer is probably don't, if you think you have the strength to shoulder whatever happens, then do it as effectively/nicely/as little backlash as possible.

AgentZigzag Sat 01-Dec-12 01:19:06

X posts with you V, mine was just a general post rather than aimed at you smile

VforViennetta Sat 01-Dec-12 01:25:18

I agree Agentzigzag, obviously there is a difference between people being actively racist for example actually abusing some poor person and using racist language/giving forth daily mail style in what they assume is "safe" company.

Fwiw I did grow up in a very racist/homophobic household, so that is not an excuse for this behaviour, I used my brain to see that it was wrong.

VforViennetta Sat 01-Dec-12 01:34:45

Also, my Parents were racist/homophobic in theory, but one of my mums best friends was a hindu, they sent letters over years, lots of her other friends were gay. My Dad was the same, he would never have dreamed of being horrid to a black/asian person for the sake of it, yet they both used casually racist language etc and claimed to be against said things confused.

Bizarre people. I don't get it.

AgentZigzag Sat 01-Dec-12 01:42:35

I don't know what the research says about the causes of racism beyond just general things V, but I think some people genuinely see racism they have for a group of people as different to how they see individual members of that group.

Maybe because they have no contextual information about the people in the group as a whole? Whereas with an individual you can see they have children (as you do) are kind (as you are) and eat/sleep/shit (as you do), so you have things in common.

I'm sure though that the advice to challenge it is given in the understanding that if it was challenged every single time, that the object of the advice (for a coherent society) would never be realised because it'd cause more shit than it'd solve.

Purple2012 Sat 01-Dec-12 06:30:08

I would and have challenged racist and other behaviour. I have had many a heated debate with work colleagues. They end up looking the stupid ones as their ignorance will always make that happen.

The other day I challenged someone who was being abusive to our friend about weight. He didn't like it but I couldn't just sit there and let him ridicule her.

TeeElfOnTeeShelf Sat 01-Dec-12 06:47:58

"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

-- Edmund Burke

Iactuallydothinkso Sat 01-Dec-12 07:09:11

Well, I don't think you're as bad as you don't share the view. No, you didn't say anything and there is an element of truth in the pp of what happens when good men do nothing but it's hard to say something if you're not naturally that way and I am sure it came out of nowhere.

I'm the parent of mixed race children who have suffered from casual and deliberate racism. So much so it affected our lives enormously, change of school etc etc. very few people actually challenge it unless directly involved or of a brave nature. My ds did have a couple of friends who stood up for him and to see this in children is a wonderful trait.

OpheliaPayneAgain Sat 01-Dec-12 07:16:17

Depends what was said for a start. Some people assume the mere mention of race/creed/colour is somehow racist when it is a descriptor, same as blonde/fat/bandy legged.

If someone were complaining about a volume of cold calls from a Mumbai call centre - not racist. To bang on about 'P's and calls, very racist.

Softlysoftly Sat 01-Dec-12 07:24:01

Unless you were in physical danger then IMO you should always challenge it or at least ask them to stop in your presence as it is wrong.

You shouldn't need the approval of people who hold foul views, you are better than them.

VBisme Sat 01-Dec-12 07:38:06

I do thinks its important to challenge racism in a social setting, if these people or nice and kind they may not even realise how badly they are coming across.

Purple2012 Sat 01-Dec-12 07:41:38

I also think people don't realise how 'casual' racism effects people. You dont have to be vile and vindictive to be racist. Throwaway comments are also just as offensive as personal attacks.

fairylightsandtinsel Sat 01-Dec-12 07:42:17

It is hard but even if you can just raise an eyebrow you are expressing your disapproval - if they then want to take it further you can say, not sure I agree but ...change the subject. My mum does it occasionally when she describes the state of the street in the East End where she grew up and always feels it necessary to say that there isn't a white face to be seen. I always pick her up on it. I also got into a FB row with my cousin who put an unbelieveably homophobic rant on there. Everyone else just asked stupid qs about the programme he'd seen but I told him it was nasty and offensive and he accused me of jumping on a PC bandwagon when HE'D been on 2 diversity awareness courses at work so his was an informed opinion!!! Didn't want to create another family rift so didn't pursue it further but I felt I had to say something as his nephew is gay and on FB a lot. Depends on the context of course but i think you do need to try and challenge it where you feel able.

LatteLady Sat 01-Dec-12 07:52:58

I know it is hard but you should try and say I don't agree, and I don't want you saying it... it reminded me of the Pastor Niemoller quote,

"First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists and I did not speak out because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me."

But you are a Mumsnetter and you can rest assured that we will speak out for you.

Proudnscaryvirginmary Sat 01-Dec-12 08:02:37

Great thread. Been in this position many times, unfortunately.

I have began to speak out a lot more now I'm decrepid old.

Depends on the comment and the person saying it though.

At a dinner party about 18 months ago, I tackled a racist 'friend' (friend's dh) and ended up telling him 'You know what, can you take your racist views somewhere else as I don't want to hear them'. My h - who HATES confrontation and likes conversation to be kept to banal banter at social situations - was really proud of me and said 'That told YOU mate' and gave me a kiss!!!

Softlysoftly Sat 01-Dec-12 08:28:43

I like that Latte reckon we should get the MN version on a t-shirt!

NameGotLostInCyberspace Sat 01-Dec-12 09:50:48

Lattelady I was going to post this but was unsure of the person's name.

OP, I understand your caution "not to rock the boat" but I would say a very mild "that was abit out of order" type comment just to let them not its unacceptable. If that is not even possible, then why are you socialising with these people?

bondigidum Sat 01-Dec-12 10:17:17

It is hard to challenge it, I totally understand. Every time my mum comes around she says something different that's racist.. I hate it, I hate her for it. Sometimes I have to laugh at her sheer ignorance and idiocity. Because that is all racists are- idiots. Gullible idiots.

I smile because I am glad that even though she brought me up with her BNP views I still rose above it and am better than that. I sometimes challenge her, particularly in changing the words she uses for certain races. Also I will say stuff like 'oh so you know all of the people are like that then? You have met them all and know that for certain?' Her baffled face is amusing.

What you have to realise is even on challenging them they won't have an intelligent come back because, well, they aren't intelligent to feel that way in the first place. So they will probably be left stumped anyway.

bondigidum Sat 01-Dec-12 10:17:54

*also they don't sound like friends you couldn't lose anyway.

thebody Sat 01-Dec-12 10:27:12

Both my parents and since departed parents in law were always talking about how the 'pakkis' got this and that and they didn't.

They didn't mind 'the gays' but didn't like them always talking about it on tele as they should just 'do it quietly'

All 4 of them were kind and thoughtful, spent hours chatting with their black and Asian neighbours and local shop owners and were horrified when the young Asian lad over the road was chased and beaten up by 3 white lads.

They never ever got the connection.

Jins Sat 01-Dec-12 10:35:38

I challenge it nowadays since I'm older and care less about what people think about me. Friendships with casual racists doesn't work for me in any case

When I was younger I stayed quiet and seethed inside. Either way the friendship wasn't going to last

Mrsjay Sat 01-Dec-12 10:39:43

I think i I would have said something what did they say or the gist of it? some people have weird views on things dont they

Mrsjay Sat 01-Dec-12 10:40:55

I grew up with a racist bigotted step father <rolls eyes> and something i would challenge others I would just leave it and ignore him , he isnt an awful man on the whole just his views back then were just awful

HerriotsofFire Sat 01-Dec-12 10:51:11

Doesn't make you as bad, but that's a minor issue. Whose job do you think it is to challenge racism?

Dawndonna Sat 01-Dec-12 10:59:57

Racism is man's gravest threat to man - the maximum of hate for the minimum of reason.

Having been beaten up by racists in the past (thirty odd years ago), please, if the situation is safe, challenge these morons.
Thank you.

DIYapprentice Sat 01-Dec-12 11:20:29

If you feel unable to challenge them directly a simple 'do you have any idea just how awful you sound when you talk like that?!' works well. It pulls them up on what they said, shows that you don't agree with it, but isn't strongly confrontational.

GhostShip Sat 01-Dec-12 11:22:19

Depends what was said, it might not have been racist.

Also its weird how this would really bother someone in your position, but if sexist or homophobic remarks or anything else hurtful wouldn't. Discrimination is discrimination, but racism seems to be the one people are so set against.

AmberLeaf Sat 01-Dec-12 11:29:49

What would you do if you were in a similar scenario again OP?

If you would do the same, then yes IMO you're as bad.

If you would challenge it, then no you're not as bad.

This occasion seemed to throw you, but you have come away thinking about it which is good.

Lastly....find better friends!

BoulevardOfBrokenSleep Sat 01-Dec-12 11:32:17

That's a fairly random comment, GhostShip confused

OP - Should I have challenged these people saying 'pretty racist things'?

Ghostship - Well, maybe they weren't being racist, and obviously if they were being homophobic it wouldn't have bothered you.

I mean, I know it's only words on a screen and all, but you gotta work with the information in the OP...?

I think the fact you feel so bad about it suggests you know you should speak up next time. My mother is flagrantly homophobic and I pick her up on it every time she says something bigoted. It's different in that she's my mother, and I guess it's easier to criticise family than friends, but I know in myself that I don't want her thinking I agree with her, and I'd be the same with friends.

The real question, I think, is do you actually want to be friends with racists?

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Sat 01-Dec-12 11:44:50

OP, in the heat of the moment, it's easy to shut down. I'm painfully introverted and pulling people up on their attitudes is very against my grain. Hindsight flogging doesn't help, and won't help anyone else, but use the experience to see what you would do in the future - what would you say, what you would do, who you could be with you if you had to see them again who would give you support, practise, find articles to back up your point.

If you have them on any social sites like Facebook, find things to post now {I could send you a heap of links and blogs and books, even now that I'm much better at pulling people up, I still get tongue tied and tend to read a lot after an argument to clarify my thoughts better, posting them and spreading the knowledge helps me to feel better when I haven't been able to get across what I wanted in the moment}.

It is hard, but you get better at it.

Valdeeves Sat 01-Dec-12 11:47:12

I can't answer this question to know what is bring said. I've been in your situation and haven't challenged it as I have genuinely been speechless. I have challenged at other times.
What did they say?

quoteunquote Sat 01-Dec-12 12:12:12

ask yourself if you would stand up and say something if there was a person there that the racist comments were aimed at,

The thing is when these "friends" are out and about spreading their poisonous thoughts, they feel justified as when they tested the ideas out on friends ,no one objected.

I don't care who it is elderly relative, client,,stranger or friend, you will get re educated if you share poisonous thought anywhere near me. Because I would quite like in my life time to live in a world where people don't hate each other just because they have differences, I want my children to live in peace.

I can't expect that to happen unless I do my part.

Sallyingforth Sat 01-Dec-12 12:53:46

I try to express disappointment when someone makes racist comments, and I have two ex-friends who no longer invite me since I objected to their speech.

But I have to admit that someone recently told a racist joke that I actually found funny and I couldn't help but laugh even though I knew it was wrong. I felt quite ashamed afterwards. What does that say about me?

kim147 Sat 01-Dec-12 13:00:47

If I challenged everything my Dad comes out with, it would make visiting him very difficult until he realised what an opinionated, egotistical alpha white male he actually is and how his views on women, immigrants and race were slightly offensive.

Worse is when he's in company and assumes everyone will agree with him. Which then leads to heated debate.

BarbaraBar Sat 01-Dec-12 13:03:41

I had a falling out with a friend of mine and her H after a dinner party at which he spouted his racist views. I had no idea he was such a tosser. I told him his views were offensive, ignorant and totally inappropriate. She sat there quietly while he ranted on in his bigoted way. I was shocked and appalled at him for his views and also at her for not saying anything. DH and I agreed that we could no longer socialise with this couple because I think if you hang out with racists then, imho, you condone what they say.

YouCanBe Sat 01-Dec-12 13:16:36

I may or may not say anything, spending on the situation, but I wouldn't see them again.

LadyFace Sat 01-Dec-12 13:34:38

I've been in a similar situation where a friend started telling racist jokes, Jim Davidson style, justifying it by saying she had asian friends, black boss, irish relatives etc. hmm

I couldn't bring myself to politely laugh like the rest of the sheep group and challenged her on it. She got very defensive about it and it was the start of the end of the friendship which was fine by me!

MaxineQuordlepleen Sat 01-Dec-12 13:46:22

It's hard but I think we all have a responsibility to challenge or things won't get better. My way of dealing with it now is to very quietly and calmly say "What do you mean?" which often stops them a bit. Then I just say "Actually I think the world is more complicated than that and we are all equal" and don't get drawn into an argument.

Boomerwang Sat 01-Dec-12 13:46:54

Really awkward. I don't think I'd like to lose a friend who is fantastic in every other way by challenging them. I would be hugely surprised and shocked if I had found myself close to someone who was racist, however.

If the comment was something that had been passed on and not much consideration had been given before repeating it I would challenge it just to be sure the person knew it was considered racist.

If I overheard a racist comment used in front of someone from the ethnic group it was aimed at I couldn't let it slide as that would definitely seem that I agreed by saying nothing. I have found the best way to show them up isn't to wade in and risk looking neurotic, but to state 'I want everybody to know I don't agree with his views / like racist jokes' No need to demand more respect, tell them not to say it in front of you again etc, because after that statement, they probably won't even talk to you any more.

Another way is to say 'shall I tell X that joke? Do you think he/she will think it's funny? I wonder why you don't crack jokes when he/she is around'

You will NEVER change someone's racist view, but you might shame them into keeping it to themselves.

GrrrArghZzzzYaayforall8nights Sat 01-Dec-12 15:18:14

I disagree Boommer - racism is learned - either directly through racist role models and media or indirectly through the racist structure of society which affects all of us - and it can be unlearned. It's a hard, continuous process, but change is possible - we don't just draw the racist card for life. Challenging people's ideas is often the start of it.

For jokes, I find the best way is just saying "I don't get it" and trying to get them to explain it. Gonig through the thought process bit by bit can be very eye openi ng for those who've never thought about it before.

Boomerwang Sat 01-Dec-12 16:48:35

That's a very good idea Grr I'll try that next time. Indeed pulling the 'joke' apart could flick a few switches in their heads.

MrsDeVere Sat 01-Dec-12 16:54:29

I tend to challenge it now.
But I am 45 and have been through a lot of horrible things in the last few years so I am a bit on the 'fuck you' side of things.

I also have black children and OH so I take it personally.
And tossers are fair game for my pent up fury generally.

InNeedOfBrandyButter Sat 01-Dec-12 16:56:29

Hmm this is interesting thread.

I got thrown the other day, walking home with my neighbour and talking about my dickhead dd's dad and how he was stringing me and another woman along when I briefly got back with him. (I have no idea what I was thinking doing this) and she said (bare in mind my dc are mixed race) well coloured men they're all the same they can't just stick with one woman. I had no idea what to say and it was right before we said goodbye and went into our own flat.

I quietly fumed thinking well that is my ds your describing to and just because it's happened to me (and is a jamaican stereotype) does not mean everyones the same just because the colour of their skin I had no idea what to say without making an argument with someone who I walk to school with, our dc are all best friends in the same classes and we live in the same block of flats.

PlateSpinningAtAllTimes Sat 01-Dec-12 17:24:08

I don't think you were unreasonable because pure surprise and the fact that you don't find confrontation easy make your lack of response understandable. However now that you've had time to digest it all, I think that you should certainly pick them up on it if it happens again. Something fairly throwaway that makes your views clear should do it: 'bloody hell, that's a bit racist', or 'that's a very sweeping statement' should do it- you don't need to get aggressive. Depending on how they respond, you can then either have a sensible debate and show them the error of their ways or realise that there is no changing them and walk away from the friendship.

Theicingontop Sat 01-Dec-12 17:31:43

I don't get those jokes made around me, because obviously if I have a child with a black man, I am therefore the white ambassador to all black people everywhere and must not be offended

Also, my idiot closet-racist colleagues were far too polite to possibly offend someone connected to a 'non-white' in some way, with their passionate anti-integration views. Bless them.

Apart from this one girl who told me she thought having mixed race children was really wrong and unfair on the child. "Me mum would kill me if I came 'ome with a coloured bloke!" hmm

I think it would be weird to bring it up now. Certainly in your position I'd have made some blunt remark, but I've had raging debates with foul, proper racists and it's never achieved anything. YANBU.

lljkk Sat 01-Dec-12 17:45:03

I think it depends what they say. And how they say it. And context. I suspect I would have kept quiet too, OP, I don't think you would have gained much by confrontation.

Have to say that I hear people on MN getting wrapped up in knots about statements that were meant as throwaway jokes, even if distasteful, I can't know if that's all OP is unhappy about.

ProphetOfDoom Sat 01-Dec-12 18:01:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hattymattie Sat 01-Dec-12 18:17:30

I am often shocked how often many people who are perfectly nice in every other way feel they can be racist once you get to know them well and I can't abide it. BUT I am in an expatriate community and to cut off everybody on this basis would leave me with hardly any friends. Having said this - like others on this thread - often racist remarks are made by the same people who have african or indian friends. They don't seem to make the connection!

Want2bSupermum Sat 01-Dec-12 18:27:45

My fathers girlfriend is Polish and very racist. I don't bother to say anything because, quite frankly, everyone knows she is an idiot. Some of her comments are real clangers though and it is then that I like to point out some truths to her though. Best one was when she said she didn't like immigrants who don't work and live off the state. I pointed out to her that she doesn't work, lives off my father and the government have paid for her study. She didn't get it but everyone else at the table did.

What scares me is that she is studying for her PhD at a redbrick school. She is one of the most ignorant people I know of and after all the 'education' that has been thrown at her she remains just as ignorant.

Snowsquonk Sat 01-Dec-12 18:41:56

This works - every time....

"Can I interupt you there.....I find comments/jokes like that offensive....but to be fair to you, you weren't to know that"

Stops people in their tracks, they can't take offense (although some try) and I've laid out my stall - so to speak - so if they continue or try again I either repeat with "I've just told you I find such comments offensive" or I leave.

lljkk Sat 01-Dec-12 20:40:50

That's nicely said, Snowsquonk. Assertive without being pushy.

MrsSnow Sat 01-Dec-12 20:47:06

I think the reality is that if you were of colour you would have no choice but to say something. As you are not, you have the choice.

I would like to think if I was white I would stand up against rascism but then I would not have lived in the skin I have and lived the life I have.

Unfortunately when a person stays silent people naturally assume that they agree with them. In the same way if you had been in public and your friend had actually made racist comments to a person of colour would have stayed silent then? In that instance if you had stayed silent it would be completely rational to assume that you were also racist.


lljkk Sat 01-Dec-12 20:49:32

People of colour... not that simple.

I have read MNers describe it as racist to slag off Americans, which is nothing to do with colour of skin! So it really depends what was said.

Oh and (ime) some Bangladeshi people like to slag off Pakistanis & sometimes visa versa. They're both people of rather similar colour, of course.

So keeps coming back to just what was said etc.

MrsSnow Sat 01-Dec-12 20:54:16

Rephrase people of colour to minority groups currently being targeted by racists.

neuroticmumof3 Sat 01-Dec-12 21:53:18

I was once friends with a neighbour for several years. One night my dc were at their dad's so I invited friend and her then boyfriend for dinner. We had a wonderful evening and got quite drunk. At which point out came the racist jokes. I kept challenging them but they just laughed off my objections and told more and more deeply unpleasant racist jokes. In the end I asked them to leave, had a blazing row with her on the doorstep and never spoke to her again.

Years ago I was in town with my then young dc. We were stood next to two white men who were saying loudly, look at the fucking monkey over there with his monkey brat and worse things while a black man and his beautiful toddler daughter walked in our direction. To my eternal shame I was too aghast and scared to challenge them. It was the first time I had heard blatant racism in a public setting and I was horrified.

I agree with the 'good men doing nothing' quote and do believe we all have a duty to challenge discriminatory behaviour but you do need to take personal safety into account.

Specialbrew Sat 01-Dec-12 22:56:48

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh but yes, I'm afraid that silence makes you as bad as the racists. Unless you are in harms way there is no excuse for not challenging racist/sexist/homophobic remarks in a democratic society. I subscribe to the 'if you're part of the solution you're part of the problem' school of thought.

Speaking as an asian with mixed raced kids the attitude of not wanting 'to rock the boat' pisses me right off. You had a choice, and you chose to stay silent. Think about all the people who get verbally abused all the time, what choice do they have?

And feeling guilty doesn't make you a better person either. Shove your guilt and do the right thing next time.

seeker Sat 01-Dec-12 23:02:40

If you thought you were in physical danger, then staying silent would have been OK. Otherwise, it isn't.

sudaname Sat 01-Dec-12 23:15:03

Sometimes its best to stand up to it in a non confrontational way. So for example if someone says something along the lines of a particuliar group of society are very clannish and only look after their own etc - then counter it with a positive about them just being very family orientated in your opinion and much more so than we are in the western world - or whatever. Its sometimes better than just saying 'thats racist' or 'you shouldnt say such things' , especially in a group of friends etc.

That way you are letting them know you dont like those remarks and dont agree with them and allowing them to modify their comments in future or better still reconsider them - without them becoming defensive and resulting in an argument.

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