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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.

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