What would you do?

by Linda Okazaki

What would you do if you were in a class of 40 colleagues, and one person used a racial slur, thinly veiled as a joke? Would you have the courage to stand up to that person? Or would you sit silently? Would you carefully explain why the words were offensive? Or would you laugh at the so-called “humor?” Would you tell that person that it doesn’t matter if the room is all white? Or would you agree that it is ok to use derogatory language, as long as there are no people of color present?

It shouldn’t matter if the room is all white. Racial slurs are always offensive. But we also need to realize that we really never know who is in our midst. Despite appearances, we are not all white or straight or Christian. We are Jews and Buddhists, we are Asians and Blacks and Latinos, we are in mixed-race relationships, we have mixed race children, we are LGBTQ.

I am proud of the colleague who stood up to racism. What would you do?