“fine folks”


I’m at a party when, suddenly, the affluent host makes a horrendous racist joke.

Sitting just outside the group, I watch the men laugh uproariously while their women exchange pained looks and then look down at their hands.

I’m excruciatingly aware of how no one is willing to confront our host about his behavior, how silence provides the perfect climate and culture for toxic behavior to thrive.

I think to myself:

This is one of those moments. They don’t want to upset the wagon cart, make a fuss, be dramatic. They don’t want to find themselves on the outside of the social group. 

(You know, like me.)

So here I am at this party, realizing that I don’t really like any of these people. 

So I just say it out loud.

“I’m super uncomfortable by that joke you just made,” I say, trying to look at the host squarely in the eye, but doing a rotten job of it. “It’s racist,” I say to the ground.

I look up at him, hoping he’ll apologize.

Instead, he laughs, pats me on the head, and walks away.

It takes a moment for me to realize that I don’t have to stay, and all I have to figure out is how to make my departure. 

Had I been at this party in my former life — as half of a couple — my ex-husband would have told me to ‘calm down’ or tried to convince me that our host is intoxicated, that he didn’t mean what he said. He would have told me to forget the man’s words and ‘just enjoy the party.’

In other words, ignore the slight. 

Guess what? 

I’m done with that.

Ignoring racism exemplifies everything that’s wrong in this world, and I’ve decided to challenge people when they’re cruel, insensitive or disrespectful. 

But dealing with racist humor is weird.

People seem to be enjoying themselves; they’re laughing.

But we all know making fun of people is not the right thing to do, either.

It’s not how we should act as humans on this planet.

It’s not how people with thinking brains and working hearts behave.

If you’re someone who truly values the diversity that we claim to hold dear in this society, put your money where your mouth is.

Practice having these difficult conversations with other adults.

Question people about their thinking.

Get curious about why they think the way they do.

Challenge them on their misinformation.

Encourage them to get outside their cultural bubbles and interact with new people.

And, for goodness sake, until you see some personal growth on their part, show some integrity and stop attending their parties.

What do you do when someone you know makes an inappropriate comment about race/class/gender/sex?

tweet me @rasjacobson

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