In modern times, the United States, Canada, and Europe are being torn apart by politicians, such as Donald Trump, using racist and xenophobic rhetoric to gain support. Of course many people do not agree with racist campaigns, but these types of campaigns can encourage racists to harass and bother minorities. Sometimes, standing up for a person being bothered by a racist can help to defuse a situation and prevent racists from getting the attention and confrontation that they desire.
Almost everyone has come into contact with a racist at some point in their life. Even if the racist person is not expressing views that are hateful towards your specific race, you may feel compelled to show the racist that not everyone shares their views. Of course many people do not confront a racist because they are concerned about the situation escalating into physical violence. Therefore, this advice from Professor Uditi Sen can be extremely helpful. She uses her studies on race to find a way to help people who are being harassed by a racist.
Professor Sen explains how her advice helped her to protect a young woman in a hijab from a man drunkenly ranting against Muslims. Her advice started to be shared by others, and currently tens of thousands of Facebook users have read and shared her invaluable advice. This technique is designed to stop racists in their tracks and keep them from harassing isolated victims without starting a fight.
The first advice that the very useful Facebook post gives is “NEVER engage the perpetrator. He (and it is usually he) is looking for confrontation.” Though it might be slightly misguided to suggest that more men are racist than women, Professor Sen does make an excellent point that most racists who are being publicly rude desire a confrontation. If the victim of the harassment is not fighting back, this type of racist will still enjoy getting into a fight and trying to justify their racist rhetoric with anyone who attempts to stand up for the victim.
Instead of focusing on the racist, Professor Sen advises that anyone who wants to help in this sort of situation focus on the person being harassed. The professor explains that this works because typically racist bullying of a person “never works against a group of people having a conversation. Usually a single person travelling or a mom with a kid, or maximum, two women, are targeted.” By standing firm with the victim of the racism, you make them seem less like an isolated, vulnerable target.
The third part of the advice explains what you should do when you turn the focus from the racist to the person being abused. Professor Sen says, “don’t tell them they are not alone. Just don’t let them be alone.” This is important because it completely derails a racist. If you are talking to the person about their race, you continue to give the racist a chance to butt into the conversation with racist remarks. Instead chat about something harmless and easy to discuss, such as weather, sports games, or popular movies. Eventually the racist person will get tired of being ignored and lose interest in their harassment.
This advice will hopefully help countless people to stop racism. Professor Sen provides a simple and effective way of showing that the racist behavior is not implicitly supported by other people who are witnessing it. Instead of getting into arguments or physical fights, it provides a strong message of support and a refusal to accept intolerance.