I hope this is fair usage, but a lot of White people don't know that they want anti-racist speakers to follow these rules:


Given the dominant conceptualization of racism as individual acts of cruelty, it follows that only terrible people who consciously don’t like people of color can enact racism. Though this conceptualization is misinformed, it is not benign. In fact, it functions beautifully to make it nearly impossible to engage in the necessary dialogue and self-reflection that can lead to change. Outrage at the suggestion of racism is often followed by righteous indignation about the manner in which the feedback was given. After years of working with my fellow whites, I have discovered (as, I am sure, have countless people of color) a set of unspoken rules for how to give white people feedback on our inevitable and often unconscious racist assumptions and patterns. I have found that the only way to give feedback without triggering white fragility is not to give it at all. Thus, the first rule is cardinal:

1. Do not give me feedback on my racism under any circumstances. If you insist on breaking the cardinal rule, then you must follow these other rules:

2. Proper tone is crucial—feedback must be given calmly. If any emotion is displayed, the feedback is invalid and can be dismissed.

3. There must be trust between us. You must trust that I am in no way racist before you can give me feedback on my racism.

4. Our relationship must be issue-free—if there are issues between us, you cannot give me feedback on racism until these unrelated issues are resolved.

5. Feedback must be given immediately. If you wait too long, the feedback will be discounted because it was not given sooner.

6. You must give feedback privately, regardless of whether the incident occurred in front of other people. To give feedback in front of any others who were involved in the situation is to commit a serious social transgression. If you cannot protect me from embarrassment, the feedback is invalid, and you are the transgressor.

7. You must be as indirect as possible. Directness is insensitive and will invalidate the feedback and require repair.

8. As a white person, I must feel completely safe during any discussion of race. Suggesting that I have racist assumptions or patterns will cause me to feel unsafe, so you will need to rebuild my trust by never giving me feedback again. Point of clarification: when I say “safe,” what I really mean is “comfortable.”

9. Highlighting my racial privilege invalidates the form of oppression that I experience (e.g., classism, sexism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, transphobia). We will then need to turn our attention to how you oppressed me.

10. You must acknowledge my intentions (always good) and agree that my good intentions cancel out the impact of my behavior.

11. To suggest my behavior had a racist impact is to have misunderstood me. You will need to allow me to explain myself until you can acknowledge that it was your misunderstanding.




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Ken Festa

Ken Festa

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