Six Steps To Talking Back to Bigotry

The Southern Poverty Law Center recommends the following steps:

  1.  Be Ready.

You know another moment like this will happen, so prepare yourself for it. Think of yourself as the one who will speak up. Promise yourself not to remain silent.  Open-ended questions often are a good response. “Why do you say that?” “How did you develop that belief?”

  1.  Identify the Behavior.

Sometimes, pointing out the behavior candidly helps someone hear what they’re really saying: “Janice, what I hear you saying is that all Mexicans are lazy” (or whatever the slur happens to be).  Describe the behavior; don’t label the person.

  1.  Set Limits.

You cannot control another person, but you can say, “Don’t tell racist jokes in my presence anymore. If you do, I will leave.”   Then follow through.

  1.  Appeal to Principles.

If the speaker is someone you have a relationship with – a sister, friend or co-worker, for example – call on their higher principles: “Bob, I’ve always thought of you as a fair-minded person, so it shocks me when I hear you say something that sounds so bigoted.”

  1.  Find an Ally/Be an Ally.

When frustrated in your own campaign against everyday bigotry, seek out like-minded people and ask them to support you in whatever ways they can.

  1.  Be Vigilant.

Remember: Change happens slowly. People make small steps, typically, not large ones. Stay prepared, and keep speaking up. Don’t risk silence.

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Repost from March 18, 2016.

Photo:  Respect Image,



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