That's Racist: Friends Are Family That You Choose

Today’s installment of That’s Racist is about responding to prejudice in your friends. Friends are people that you presumably know well and have willingly chosen to surround and associate yourself with. Your friends are a reflection of the beliefs, values, and passions that you all have in common, but what often makes friendships so fulfilling are the nuanced perspectives that each person has to offer due to his or her upbringing and personal experiences. This is why so many friends can be so different and yet so alike. Because your friends are a reflection of what you believe in, it can be shocking and disturbing when one of them slips something discriminatory or intolerant into a conversation. Instead of backhanding your buddy, take a deep breath and follow these steps. 

This form of addressing prejudice is not condoned by Mean Bones, unless she's talking shit about your cat.

See if she checks herself before she wrecks herself. Shit happens, and sometimes people say awful things on accident. If this is the case with your friend, she’ll hopefully be as shocked as you are as to what just came out of her mouth and she’ll swallow her words. A mere “Whoah, there!” on your part will suffice. Don’t harangue her for an innocent mistake that she probably regrets.

If she’s completely oblivious, holla atcha girl. See if she meant what she said, and tell her that you’re not comfortable with that kind of talk. Instead of calling your friend a transphobic whore, try saying something like, “girl, you did not just call that person a tranny in front of me.” Then drop some knowledge! Prejudice stems from ignorance, and the most valuable thing you can do for your friend is educate her on the matter. Many people aren’t aware of the etymology of the word “faggot” when they throw it into conversations. Plenty of young people grew up saying the word “retard” without considering it ableist or offensive. And, unfortunately, many people consider racial stereotypes to be truths instead of the self-fulfilling prophecies that they are. Since people like talking about themselves a whole lot more than being lectured, ask her about her upbringing. Was prejudiced language allowed or encouraged in the household she grew up in? If you try to understand her experiences, it’ll help her understand your beliefs. Chances are she’s not an evil closet-racist, just confused and maybe a little brainwashed.

If all else fails, tell her to get a clue or get lost. If your friend can’t respect your beliefs enough to abstain from using prejudice language around you, she’s not a friend worth having. Remember that your friends are a reflection of what you believe, and if you’re with one person who has narrow-minded views, that can reflect badly on you to someone who may not know you. Take a break from the friendship. When you’re ready to try hanging out with her again, maybe she’ll have missed your company enough to rethink her worldview.  

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