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Tips for people who say things that are a little bit racist

May 15, 2016

Ken Livingstone, Azealia Banks, Boris Johnson and no doubt more people nobody was listening to, said words that were interpreted as racist recently. Disaster! What are the protocols? I’ve identified a glaring lack of them. Keep this guide handy in case your tongue slips. Stay out of the “I’m not racist…” quagmire of the damned that will inevitably haunt your twitter mentions for a day or so.

TIP 1: Listen

If your comment has generated a hashtag, a Comment is Free article and/or an appearance from Dizzee Rascal on Newsnight, you are in deep trouble! Do not panic and for goodness sake do not respond. Not just yet. The first thing to do is listen. Who is cricitising you? Why? Do they have a point? Keep your eyes and mind open to the idea that you might have made a mistake. If, after doing this, you think “yeah, maybe ‘sand ni**a’ is a racist thing to say”, proceed to tip number two…

TIP 2: Do not try to “prove” you are not racist

There is no evidence you can submit to prove you are not racist. I don’t care if your best friend is Chinese, your boyfriend is black or your dentist is Bengali. You might still think people from Pakistan smell funny. Your personal relationships do not say anything about your beliefs; your black boyfriend might hate black people as much as you do. We are still working through 400 years of extremely well taught self hate, dontchaknow?

Putting the brown people in your life up as ‘racism insurance’ is actually the next step up on the ‘racist behaviour ladder of dumbness’ followed only by telling me how you only sleep with [insert race here] men/women and how you buy your lentils from the ethnic food aisle and not the whole foods section. The former makes you sound like you have a fetish. The latter makes you thrifty, not open-minded.

You can only be judged on what you do and how you act at any particular time. Having a few black friends on your Snapchat won’t change or excuse the fact that you dropped the N-bomb instead of asking for nuggets. So if you do that, or something similar…

TIP 3: Own up

Saying something racist and being racist are two different things. Owning up isn’t a confession you’re a bigot. It’s an acknowledgement we live in a tricky world that was designed by racists in the purest form; where the privileged are dripping with the rewards of colonialism and the rest are trying to get to Lesbos. We absorb the inequalities of this world whether we like it or not. And sometimes those inequalities pop out of our mouths like spit spray.

Saying something racist and being racist are two different things. Owning up isn’t a confession you’re ignorant. It suggests you don’t want to be.

TIP 4: Apologise

Tips 1, 2 and 3 make sense? The word is ‘sorry’.

TIP 5:

If all of the above fails, try to be right wing and definitely become a politician. You can say what you like because people will expect you to be a little bit racist. It doesn’t matter if you want to build a wall around Mexico, ban Muslims from your country or suggest the President of the United States is and always will be Kenyan. That’s just you, ‘doing you’. As you please.

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