It can be difficult to deal with racist parents. Often times, your parents might not think of themselves as racist or they might get upset if you use that word. They could also come from a more “traditionalist” family where stereotypes are acceptable things to say, for example “Asians are good at math”. You need to be able to express yourself effectively with your parents to explain their racism and how it bothers you.
Part 1 of 2: Expressing your problems
Step 1. Enter the behavior at the time
In any difficult confrontation, people might feel attacked if you remind them of an incident from the past. If your parents say something that you think is racist or inappropriate, talk to them as soon as possible. You better take care of this stuff ASAP, but it's not always possible. If you are in a public place this might be hard to surprise. If you can't deal with it right away, discuss it later today or the next day.
- Face your parents' words and actions. If they say or do something racist around you, try to deal with it right away. Ask them to clarify what they mean. Focus on your parents' words and behavior rather than their general character. Never make it personal. If you tell them they're racist, they're going to get on the defensive and they're going to blame you. Instead, try telling them, “This statement is a guess” or “It means that all people with the same skin color are the same. You are probably going to face resistance from them, but if you want your parents to be more open to change, you need to address this issue.
- Say your parents said something racist about your friend. Start by saying, "Can we discuss parts of this conversation over dinner?" Share what they said using tact to reduce the chances of your parents becoming defensive. For example, you could say to them, "I know you weren't thinking bad when you said all Asians are good at math, but it hurt Kyoko because he saw that you were judging him against him." to the color of his skin rather than his character. "
- Then listen to your parents' point of view. They probably don't realize that what they said can hurt or maybe they don't know much about other cultures.
- You can suggest ways for them to speak if they are uncomfortable with people from other cultures. Encourage them to ask questions rather than saying wrong things. For example, he might ask, “Does your family follow the traditions of your culture? What are the traditions that you follow? "
Step 2. Take care of certain behaviors
When discussing their racism with someone, it's best to focus on those specific behaviors. While you might be tempted to pick on your parents because of their character, you shouldn't forget that people are more receptive when you discuss their language and actions rather than their intrinsic character.
- Remember to tell the difference between a conversation about the person's actions and a conversation about their personality. In a conversation about his behavior, you will remind your parents of their words and behaviors that you find unacceptable. A Personality Conversation draws conclusions about your parents' character based on their actions. Even if you sincerely believe these conclusions are true, you are not going to convince them to change by doing so. Your parents will resent you for speculating about their character instead of focusing on the facts.
- Remember that telling your parents that they are racist is giving them the opportunity to get away with it easily. They can easily deflect the conversation by denying their own personality. Even if you're right, you want to deal effectively with their racism, stay in the moment, and focus on their immediate and specific actions.
Step 3. Prepare for their defense
Even when you discuss a specific behavior and focus on their actions, people in general don't like these kinds of conversations. They tend to take accusations very personally when you accuse their words or behavior of being racist.
- If your parents get on the defensive when you use the word "racist," you should avoid this label while expressing your opinion. Focus on their behavior and why it is hurtful without using the word “racist” to prevent them from becoming defensive.
- Don't let your parents get out of the way. Even if you discuss the situation properly, you might receive responses like, “I'm not a racist”. If your parents respond this way, respond by focusing on the effect this statement had on the person or the potential effect it might have on that person. You could say, "What you said made him feel like you don't see him for who he is, but as a stereotype." "
- There is no easy way to talk about racism. Remember that sometimes it is inevitable to have a defensive response. Approach the situation expecting your parents to fight back so you won't be surprised when you meet resistance.
Step 4. Use first person sentences
In any difficult conversation, the use of first person sentences can be helpful. These are phrases that focus attention on your emotional reaction to the situation. This helps you avoid appearing to be judging others. Even if you are right in the present situation, you will rarely be able to solve problems by appearing to be judging others.
- Instead of expressing your opinion on the situation, focus your affirmations on talking about your big picture of the world.
- Your sentences should start with "I smell …" and continue from there. Avoid sentences that start with "you make me feel …" or "it makes me feel …", as this will lead you to point out the cause of your unhappiness. You need to avoid doing this so that you don't sound like you're accusing your parents, because they might feel judged and they're not going to want to change. Instead of saying, "I felt embarrassed by the way you treated my friend over dinner," you could say, "I felt embarrassed by the interaction between you and my friend over dinner, I think. that you hurt him and I feel a little offended. "
- Your parents might be more receptive to this approach. Even if they don't exactly understand their underlying racism, they might at least want to try to change so that you feel better. It is a good starting point for dealing with racism. If they ask you what they can do differently, say something like, "Stop commenting on my friend's appearance, please." "
Step 5. Show an example of positive behavior
Often the best way to deal with parenting racism is to lead by example. Pay close attention to how you talk about other cultures and ethnicities. Try to show your parents that it is important to accept other cultures instead of telling them.
- Share with your parents the ways your friend has helped you push your limits and gain a new perspective.
- Avoid stereotypes.
Part 2 of 2: Avoid negativity
Step 1. Try to understand your parents' racism
Although it can be difficult to understand a racist person's point of view, try to put yourself in your parents' shoes. Racism is a common systemic problem in many societies. It is often subtle and many people are unaware that their actions have a racist connotation.
- The way people of color are portrayed in the media is often mildly racist. For example, words used to describe people of color are often disguised under outdated or offensive terms. It is not a phenomenon confined to the speeches of the extreme right, but which also appears in serious newspapers. Over time, a person's perspective may shift without realizing it due to exposure to stereotypes in the media. While this doesn't excuse racism, it can help you understand your parents.
- Often people are unaware of their own racism. As has already been touched upon, people are very defensive about the subject of race. Thus, subtle racism often goes unnoticed. Your parents might not see their own racist comments. You can do your best to show your parents the situations in which they say racist things, but try to understand that this racism can be very subtle and why it is very difficult to change the opinions of racists.
- For example, the media often demonize victims of African descent and show more empathy towards white individuals suspected of serious crimes, including mass murder.
Step 2. Stop conversations that make you uncomfortable
At some point you have to accept that racism is a deeply held thought system that is difficult to change. You need to have a zero tolerance policy for racist comments, especially if these discussions with your parents affect you emotionally.
- If your parents are trying to get you into an argument, don't be persuaded. Recognize their feelings and quickly move on to another topic.
- It is very difficult for people to change deeply held beliefs. Sometimes the best thing to do is to hope that they evolve and become less racist. Name calling, attacks, accusations, and rejection will do no good and will only contribute to the resentment that your parents will feel towards you. Instead, if you tell your parents how much you love them and how much you appreciate everything they have done for you, they are going to be more inclined to question their beliefs after giving them some time. After all, they love you as much as you love them. Also, try putting another family member on your side and have a chat to see how they can help you make your case.
Step 3. Recognize that failure is likely
Remember that it is very rare to see people change their views, especially if they are older. You might not change a thing by telling your parents about their racism. However, it is always important to spot unacceptable behavior. Racism can continue to exist, as people often remain silent and do not want to force themselves to have unpleasant conversations. Silence is sometimes seen as an endorsement or acceptance of racist views. Even though these conversations will likely end in failure, you still need to keep them going.