How do I have a conversation with a racist?

by Andrew Wien


Posted on October 24, 2020


How do I have a conversation with a racist?
Someone today asked me, “How do I have a conversation with a racist? They really get under my skin.”

Yes, I am a white man answering this. My intention is to provide an approach that is useful. If you disagree, please share your perspective in the comments- the more perspectives the better.

The mistake that a lot of us make is we jump into an argument. You are wrong. You are a bad person. You have more privilege than you could ever imagine. While these might be true, you are not making progress toward what you want.

First, clarify: what do you really want?

If you want to change their mind, take the moral high ground, or give them an ultimatum, recognize that this is not the best way to start.

Instead, start from a place of curiosity. Do they self-identify as racist or are they blind to their behavior? Do they interpret their behavior differently, and if so, how?

If you want to tell them how you feel, you will do this better once you can explain their perspective.

If you want to influence what they think, you will do this better once you can ARGUE their perspective.

If you want to cut them out of your life, you will be more confident once you know for sure how toxic their perspective is.

Start from a place of curiosity. Understand them. The next steps will be clear.

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