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6 Things to Consider Before Starting a Conversation About Racism with a Family Member

Talking about race is hard. Talking about it with a family member is harder. Talking about it with a family member who has a history of perpetuating negative racial stereotypes is harder still.

When we love someone who has a tendency to throw out racist jokes like it’s normal, starting a conversation with them about why this is not OK can feel like an impossible task. But calling people out on their everyday racism is the only way anything is going to change, which is why we have put together this guide. 

Don’t write it off 

It can be tempting to just write-off the racism that our family members perpetuate as impossible to change. When it’s someone who is elderly, or an authoritative family member, we can often think there is not point in trying to change their behaviour as they are too set in their ways. But it’s important to try. Even the oldest leopards really can change their spots when they take the time to listen and learn, and if you think they are capable of just doing that, it’s worth starting the conversation. 

Explain why it makes you feel uncomfortable 

When it’s someone you care about that is making you feel awkward or uncomfortable, they will want to know they are doing it, and why it makes you feel that way. Be calm and collected and choose a time and place that works the best for both of you.

Ask them why they feel like making jokes or comments like that 

Sometimes, it might be because no one has ever said they don’t like it before. Or it could be because they were raised in a house that normalized racism. Whatever the reason why they do it, try to hear them out. So much of the microaggressions that we hear from those we love are down to one of these two reasons, and so now is your chance to explain why they are not excuses for this kind of behaviour. 

Don’t be hostile or aggressive

Talking about race is a tough conversation, and feelings can often run high. But being hostile or aggressive is only going to make matters worse, and will likely result in damaging your relationship with that person, instead of changing their behaviour in any way. If you feel like you are struggling to hold your emotions back, ask to take a break from the conversation but let them know you will revisit it at a later date. The most important thing though, is to try to leave your emotions behind when you do draw it to a close. 

Give them the opportunity to express their feelings about it 

It can be tempting to only feel like you have the right to express your feelings in conversations like this one, because you feel like you are 100% in the right. But it’s important the conversation flows both ways, and you give them the chance to express how they feel about this. Let them have the space to say why they do it, and what they feel about needing to change. 

Have some resources or stories ready that might educate them 

Even though it should be, just saying how you feel about this situation might not be enough to influence any changes in behaviour. So make sure you do your research beforehand, have some resources, links and stories that could help you. You can find lots more on the #StopAsianHate movement on our hub here.


Want to learn more?

This article is part of our #StopAsianHate series in partnership with ASOS. Visit our hub for more info, tools, tips and ways to take a stand against Asian hate.

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