When the supposed leader of your country calls a deadly virus, “Kung Flu,” he is being racist. Deliberately. It’s not ignorance, and it’s not a slip of the tongue. It’s a calculated move. You’re not going to change his mind.
But when your Uncle John says, “Kung Flu,” because he heard the supposed leader of the country say it, you have options.
I’m not going to pretend I have used any of these options. I despise confrontation. I’m trying to get over that. Fortunately, I’ve made it a habit over the years to mostly be around kind and sane people who don’t mind if we disagree every once in awhile. But there have been times that I am so astounded by someone’s biased comments that I wish I had a cheat sheet to help me get those conversations started. Or stopped. It turns out that there are some other people out there who have apparently had discussions with my Uncle John, and they have come up with a few ways to respond to his bigoted words.
Racism Interruptions is a collection of civilized phrases that are excellent alternatives to the expletive-filled replies that may fill your head when Uncle John spouts off at the next family dinner. This page, created by the graduates of the Oregon Center for Educational Equity (which does not seem to have a working website any longer) was tweeted by Jennifer Gonzalez (@CultofPedagogy). Laminate it and stick it in your wallet.
Teaching Tolerance has its own 4-step process designed explicitly for confronting Coronavirus racism here. It includes: Interrupt, Question, Educate, and Echo. I was a bit concerned when I read the last heading, “Echo,” but relieved to see that we should echo the anti-racist comments of others – not blustering Uncle John.
And if you do happen to get invited to the White House before November, start doing push-ups every day to strengthen your arms, and tattoo this to the palm of your hand, “Dude, pick another word,” so you can hold it up repeatedly.
It won’t work, but he’ll have to pause a long time to read it, and he might just forget what he was saying.