This morning I saw a picture on Instagram posted by a local edgy shop. I didn’t think much of it until I happened to see the comments, saying that the image was racist. I read more of the comments and saw a trend that really bothers me. The original poster would not listen to the people who were hurt. She said, “I’m not racist, this is just funny.” She went on (as a white woman) to explain to her (person of color) critic that they were reading it wrong and it was just a joke.
No one likes to be called a racist or to be told they made a racist joke/comment. (I know this from personal experience.) Here’s what I’ve learned to do when I find myself in that position:
1. Listen. Don’t defend yourself or your comment/picture/joke. Listen and find out why what you said or did was insensitive/hurtful.
2. Employ empathy. It’s hard to understand what you have not experienced. Remember that your experience is not normal for everyone. Believe that the other person’s experience is their normal.
3. Apologize (and not one of those fake “I’m sorry you were offended” apologies).
4. Try to be more thoughtful and sensitive moving forward.