Sunday, September 10, 2017

How to Deal with Racism and Xenophobia? Damned If I Know

In the past day or so, I* have seen two very different ways to deal with racism and xenophobia:

with love and courage:
and with outrage:
And, of course, there are other ways to deal with it as well.  I admire both responses.  The first because it took discipline and because Jagmeet Singh avoided the easy response: duh, Sikhs are not Muslims (the first iron law of bigotry).  The second because it took a heap of guts to confront a cop since, as the man notes,  the cop had his gun drawn moments ago.  Both demonstrated how wrong the other person was, and shamed them for their behavior.  Will the provocative xenophobe in the first video change their behavior and outlet?  Probably not.  Will the cop?  I don't know, but he seemed more capable of shame than the woman in the first video.  That the driver in the second video seemed to do ok in the encounter--was not pulled out of the car, was allowed to harang the cop--is promising (thanks to our low expectations of police behavior). 

Of course, both moments were recorded and then posted online.  Lots of confrontations with racism are not.  So, we need to be careful about generalizing about how to respond to racism.  Which is my main point: that there is no one best way to respond to these types of encounters.  We can celebrate individuals and groups when we see how they thwart or confront racism--our celebration should not mean that the particular examples are the only ways to do it.  

We live in trying times, so we need to appreciate resistance to racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia and all the other hatreds that are being stirred up. 

* It could be mighty white of me to enter this conversation, except the Nazis at Charlottesville and elsewhere remind us all that few folks fit into their conception of white.   

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