How to react properly to a racist insult?

Everyone, whether black, white, Asian, Jewish, Christian or Arab, has been confronted with racist statements. How to react to this destabilizing situation and find the right words? Here are the tips from

« Anyway, I don’t like people with brown skin. » This is the sentence that Georges’ son, 4 and a half years old, once said to a black salesman. « I smiled a smile, stammered excuses, but I had it pretty bad, » he says. « I have long been an anti-racist activist and my son has obviously never heard such comments at home. When he asked him about it, he simply admitted to me: « I don’t like brown, the colour, so I don’t necessarily like people with brown skin« . Indeed, he only very rarely used his brown felt at the time… »

Destabilizing racist comments and a destabilizing response. How should we react to such a situation? Is racism innate or acquired? And how to explain it?

Differentiate between projected or normative racism

There are two possible origins of racism « The first and most frequent is related to the environment: this is what I call projected racism. The person has heard racist comments, whether assumed or more implicit, and he takes them up again. This often happens in the youngest children who have not yet developed critical thinking or moral judgment.

Racism is an ideology which, starting from the assumption without scientific basis1 that races exist within the human species, considers that certain categories of people are inherently superior to others2.

This is its difference with racialism, which starts from the same premise, but does not consider races as unequal. This ideology can lead to favouring one category of people over others.

Even today, racism still kills, discriminates, humiliates. On all continents, and even very recently, despite international texts and laws that punish, millions of men, women and children are still suffering the consequences. This failure to protect victims of discrimination in practice is unacceptable.

Dismantle prejudices

The moral lesson doesn’t work. It is necessary to contextualize, deconstruct, make people think. Knowing how to answer, how to dismantle an argument, is not spontaneous. « It can be learned. »

On the agenda: exchanges around practical cases, courses on conspiracy speeches or genocidal mechanisms, film presentations and comics that can serve as a support to fight against prejudice.

Getting messages across

like « living together« , we have to get messages across. Without making big speeches, but with the game for example. By showing that to win, a team needs everyone, » regardless of skin colour and origin.

It is important to show that everyone has their own history, their own memory and that they can share it with others.

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