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Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry

Take a look at this excerpt from “Speak Up: Responding to Everyday Bigotry,” a Southern Poverty Law Publication . . . .

“Speaking Up… (Sibling) relationships involve long-established habits, shared experiences, and expectations. In crafting a response to bias from a brother or sister, consider your history together. Was bigoted language and “humor” allowed or even encouraged in your childhood home? Or, is this behavior something new? Does your sibling see him- or herself as the sibling leader? Or does another sibling hold that role? The following suggestions might help frame your response:

Honor the past. If such behavior wasn’t accepted in your growing-up years, remind your sibling of your shared past: “I remember when we were kids, Mom went out of her way to make sure we embraced differences. I’m not sure when or why that changed for you, but it hasn’t changed for me.”

Change the present. If bigoted behavior was accepted in your childhood home, explain to your siblings that you’ve changed: “I know when we were growing up that we all used to tell ‘jokes’ about Jews. As an adult, though, I advocate respect for others.”

Appeal to family ties. “I value our relationship so much, and we’ve always been so close. Those anti-Semitic remarks are putting a lot of distance between us, and I don’t want to feel distanced from you.”

Reach out. Feedback about bias is sometimes hard to hear. Who is your sibling most likely to listen to? A spouse? A parent? A child? Seek out other relatives who can help deliver the message.

This section focuses on family, specifically sibling relationships that can make addressing racist comments complicated, and emotionally taxing. Knowing ahead of these conversations how you might like to respond can reduce some of the tension.

Have you ever had to speak up against racism among family members? Share your experience with us in a comment below.

-Your Friends at Undoing Racism