So, yesterday, as I was looking through the News Taco comments, I came across a real zinger. The commenter in question, presumably a man, didn’t use his real name, but rather a fake email. What was said in the email is not important, suffice to say that there were several racist comments about Mexicans (being lazy, greasy, idiots, etc.) and women (fat, pregnant, etc.) and when I shared with some friends they were astounded.
They asked, “What did you say to him?” “Nothing,” I responded. Now, don’t get me wrong, racism and sexism gets my blood boiling as much as the next gal, but truth be told, responding in anger I have found is mostly a waste of time. Sure, you blow off some steam, but you don’t really get anywhere. So, I figured, let’s turn a negative (racist comments) into a positive (strategies for responding to racist comments). Note that previously we listed the top Latino racial slurs and also ran a story about how to respond to anti-Latino slurs.
1.) Tell them where to go.
You can always respond by flipping the bird or telling these racists where to go. As I mentioned previously, it will make you feel a whole lot better — at least let out some of that hostility. But, in my opinion, ultimately you’re giving them exactly what they want, showing them that their stupidity is upsetting to you.
2.) Eye for an eye.
Another tempting option. When someone insults you for having black hair you can insult them for having brown hair, oldest trick in the book, right? Indeed, but it also runs the risk of allowing these arguments to escalate to the point where you both become embroiled in unhealthy emotions and, if you’re in a place where people can carry around guns legally, maybe even run the risk of death.
This is a good option if you’re dealing with someone who’s willing to listen, only problem is, if someone is spouting off racial epithets to you, they’re probably not the type who’s willing to stop and consider your perspective. I have found that, in my own life, taking the time to sit and listen to others’ perspectives — whether they be gay, Republican, gun owners or liberals — is often quite educational. It helps me to grow as a person and better understand myself, regardless of whether I agree with that person or not.
4.) Use it for good.
You can take what you hear or see and turn it around and use it as a parable or teaching tool for others. Several people I follow in Arizona don’t do much more than photograph and report bigots they encounter there, sharing this information on social networks. This is powerful because it not only is evidence, but it can bring us all together in the realization that racism exists, and also help us to understand what it looks like, how others are dealing with it and learn about who we are in how we respond to it. If you can take something as atrocious as racism and turn it into something beautiful, that’s almost a miracle, isn’t it?
5.) Do nothing.
This one is my personal favorite because it doesn’t make another person’s racism my responsibility. When I read that comment yesterday, I was tempted to do a lot of things, but what I did ultimately was just share it with my social networks — because I think it’s important in this age of anti-Latino legislation to recognize that there’s a lot of actual racism behind arguments for “enforcing the law.” What I told my friends who asked me what I told him, though, is this: the ultimate punishment for this guy will be having to live in a reality he refuses to accept — that this country is changing and it’s not to look more like him — so that everyday when he wakes up, he will be filled with hate and helplessness. I can’t imagine what I could do to him that would be worse than what he’s done to himself.
Follow Sara Inés Calderón on Twitter @SaraChicaD[Photo By News Taco]