Too often people who are bored with the small town life will move to a new city unprepared mentally. They may dress the part of urban life, obtain a job around people of other races and shop in integrated areas, but the reality is that when the day is done, they are talking to family and friends back at the small town, making stereotypical jokes and reinforcing their own ignorant mindset.
Some stereotypes have been created based on truth, but is it nice to make fun of another person? No. Yet, people will do it anyway. The problem is, although this is in the privacy of one's home, this kind of attitude will eventually expose itself. In recent news, we have seen public figures get a "little too comfortable" around various races of people and feel it's okay to say whatever they want and it has unfortunately damaged their reputations.
Some people defending ignorant statements and behaviors will say, "Well, XYZ race says it, so it's okay, right?" Wrong, as we all know it is okay to call your mother, brother, sister, best friend or someone else around you certain names, because you both have an understanding, but hear someone outside your circle use those same names and some of you will be ready to argue and fight.
To overcome ignorant thinking, one must first question where did the thoughts come from in the first place and what is he or she doing to keep those negative thoughts active in his or her mind?
If every time you talk to mom she is referring to a race of people by negative names, maybe you need to gently remind her, "...that hasn't been my experience with them." If dad is complaining about XYZ race at work and inviting you to say something negative, avoid the temptation by saying nothing at all. Then when you feel more comfortable standing up for your beliefs, address your dad's comments. Your friends may have their negative experiences and comments as well, but must we have to join in the conversation? No. Do we have to keep listening to the negativity? No. One of the benefits of being an independent adult is making a stand for what you believe in without worry.
People who choose to make negative comments about any person's weight, color, culture, etc. usually had a negative history with a person or group that they never got over; therefore, they have a need for someone who is "weak minded" to join in the banter. A weak-minded individual is someone who simply can't think nor speak up for his or herself. They base their decision-making on what others think. They are fearful of the outcome if they make a stand for their beliefs. The ignorant people with the negative history may not feel that they are doing anything wrong when making generalizations because no one ever made them feel accountable for what they say. When dealing with ignorant people, one must know when the time is right to speak.
Calling a person out in front of a boardroom of executives is not the wisest thing to do, no more than telling your mother in front of strangers that she is a racist. The most professional and polite way to address any issue is to talk with someone one-on-one. Begin by explaining how what they said made you feel and possibly others in the room. Provide some facts as to why their statements is untrue and is based on assumptions, generalizations, stereotypes, or whatever you may want to call their comments.
Avoid the name-calling. No one appreciates being called or accused of being a racist no matter how gentle you say it. Allow the person to explain why they said it. Remind him or her again how it made you feel. They may apologize or they may not. They may understand or they may act like a jerk. How they act is irrelevant (unless, of course, you are building a file against them to be shared with administrators or Human Resources.) Most of all, end the conversation on a positive note by digressing to some other topic.
Remember ignorant people fear what's different. They prefer to be around people who are like them, because they choose not to educate themselves on others cultures and experiences. For some people, they are simply too lazy to want to learn about others outside of their race, particularly if they don't go to places where different cultures of people outside of their own are non-existent. Still there are others as mentioned above who simply had a bad experience they couldn't get over. With those people, you can only gain trust by being yourself and not give in to temptations of the world that say, "You are supposed to act and say things this particular way in order to be accepted..."
Hogwash! (Just so you know I am not from a small town in the South and raised on a farm because I said, "Hogwash!")
Nicholl McGuire, Freelance Writer, enjoys surfing the Internet for ways to save people money and time with do-it-yourself services. If you have the patience to learn something new, then you'll want to stay tuned to future articles by this writer. Visit http://howtobooksonline.bravehost.com.© 2007 Nicholl McGuire
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