A Latina’s Guide: How to talk to a racist

As unfortunate a reality as it may be, one way or another in our country, you’re going to have to deal with someone who is racist, or at least holds a little bit of prejudice.

What’s even more unfortunate is that you’re most likely to come across someone who doesn’t necessarily know that they are prejudiced, and thus, pointing out this behavior or dealing with it may be a bit more difficult for you.

Now, say that you are a Latina and so have to deal with society’s sexist — as well as racist — attitudes and all of a sudden you find yourself in a bit of a bind. How does one fight The Man, preconceived notions of femininity (from both American and Latino cultures), civility standards, sexism and racism all at once?

I have a few tips that I thought might be useful, so here we go:

1. Don’t blow up

Believe me, I can be a fiery Latina with the best of them, but unfortunately all you’re going to do is make people tune out. If you want someone to hear you, then getting angry and loud isn’t going to accomplish that.

Actually, staying calm and engaging them is the exact opposite of what they wanted, and will probably freak them out much more anyway.

2. Stay calm and ask questions

The more words that spill out of someone’s mouth, the higher the probability that they will say something stupid. And, sooner or later, they will start to listen to the words coming out of their mouths, and might shut themselves up.

3. Invite other people into the conversation

It’s funny, but when people who say stupid things to your face all of a sudden have to say stupid things to others’ faces, they suddenly change their minds. You can be as aggressive or passive about this as you want: “Hey, Doug, John over here thinks that Latins are more fiery than everyone else, what do you think about that?” or even “Mark, did you know that John says Asian women are naturally more submissive than everyone else, isn’t that the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?”

You can take it to whatever level you want, especially if someone is saying something stupid.

4. Engage them

This is the one that I usually avoid, out of sheer frustration and exasperation, but I’ve seen others employ successfully. Try to go point-by-point with people over why it’s not reasonable to assume that all Latinos are Mexican, or how no one in your family is an immigrant. This can be a useful tactic especially for folks who are ignorant, but not willfully so.

5. Walk away

Recently I found an angry, white-centric man on Twitter kinda stalking me with negative vibes and hate. I blocked him. Ain’t nobody got time for stupidity, especially sexist and racist-ey stupidity, so why deal with it at all?

In your case this might take the form of a witty retort, “You must make lots of friends with a mouth like that!” or you could be super civil, “Oh, that’s nice. Have a great day!” or you could be holier-than-thou, “I’m sure the people who were beaten for speaking Spanish in school when they were growing up would disagree with you.”

Your tone doesn’t really matter, what matters is that you get away from that bad juju.

So those are my thoughts on this subject, but I’m sure I either left something out or that you disagree with me.