purpletigron: In profile: Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts from Dr Who (Default)
[personal profile] purpletigron
... interesting advice on having that conversation productively ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

Summary: Avoid the 'what you are' conversation, because it's too easy to get de-railed.

Date: 2010-05-01 07:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alexmc.livejournal.com
Yes. In general when making *any* sort of criticism of what people say it is better to critique what was said instead of labelling the person themselves.

Date: 2010-05-01 08:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] showingup.livejournal.com
While remembering that their immediate reaction is likely to be that you're having the "what you are" conversation, and you're going to have to point out that you're totally not.

Date: 2010-05-01 10:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carandol.livejournal.com
This only works for people who care about whether you think they're a racist or not. If they're a racist and proud of it, you're wasting your breath.

Date: 2010-05-02 07:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] showingup.livejournal.com
The majority of people I need to have this conversation with fall into the "I am oppressed because I'm white and the world's going to hell in a handbasket, I'm convinced that we're being SWAMPED by immigrants and losing our British culture, and the Scots and the Welsh are allowed to be proud of their countries but we're not allowed to be proud of being English" - and if challenged in even the friendliest terms become very defensive because they're not racist because they don't hate anybody. And that's the problem. We've done really well at making racism something that most people don't want to be associated with, but we've had to attach it to the most obvious forms of racism because they were prevalent. So now people think a racist is someone who consciously, deliberately hates people from other cultures or having different coloured skin. They don't think racism is about the subtler processes of thought. And they're not racist, they're nice, accepting people, so nothing they think, say, or do could possibly be racist.

Which is a tad problematic when they're kind, decent people who are profoundly liberal. Except on this issue.

And when they're your parents.

Date: 2010-05-02 05:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] purpletigron.livejournal.com
If you have any kind of relationship with said 'self-identified racist', saying, "what you said/did is painful for _me_' might _just_ change the game?

Date: 2010-05-02 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] carandol.livejournal.com
No, I don't have any relationship with any racists. But I do have friends who are active anti-fascists. There's been some talk recently that one of the pubs in Lancaster has become a fascist pub (staff with "white power" tattoos, BNP beer mats, etc.) and what does one do about it? I doubt the people who run organisations like Redwatch (google it as the domain name changes regularly) are amenable to reasoned argument or emotional appeals.

My parents it would work on -- they're sort of theoretical bigots from reading the Sun too much, but if they actually meet a member of a minority group they theoretically don't like, they're their usual hospitable selves and immediately put that group on their list of people they were wrong about :-)

Date: 2010-05-03 02:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] showingup.livejournal.com
I know a fair few people who continue to have those ideas about the group as a whole, and yet put the person they've got personal contact with in a different category because "they're not like the others".

The biggest problem I find is that people immediately go to targetting illegal immigrants and asylum seekers, lumping them all in together and assuming they're all criminals/abusing the system to get "everything paid for them". The generalisations become squishy as they're dealt with, so that you can point to families you know of who exemplify the reasons why a person would come to Britain, arrive without papers, bring their kids with them, etc., and the argument will immediately shift to "the others", the ones who abuse the system and get all manner of palatial accommodations, vast sums of money, and other completely non-existent services - and then this will be compared with the "cushy" life of people in prison, who get "all the services and leisure and education under the sun", and teenage mothers/people on benefits who get "everything paid for", and contrasted with the honest middle and working class white British people who get nothing but squeezed for cash and denied services and support because "no-one cares" about them. And then we're onto the HRA giving criminals "everything they want" and discriminating against "honest people".

It's a tricky, ever-changing argument that can't be dealt with by facts or appeals to personal hurt, because it's about a nameless, will-not-be-owned-up-to desire to feel worthy through victimhood (because our culture is screwed up about persecution and moral virtue), and a fear of change that goes way, way deeper than any of the "issues" being raised. It is, as they say in therapy (and the CAB), that "the presenting problem is not the problem". If you're hoping for a sensible discussion about the issues they raise, or for a sensible discussion about the deep emotional issues that are at the bottom of it, it's like plaiting fog.

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