Pro Tip: Reactions & Doing Better
Within the past few months I listened to a podcast that featured a Native-American academic as a guest. She talked a lot about Native appropriation and how it’s quite shitty and racist to use terms such as “spirit animal,” “having a pow-wow,” and “low man on the totem pole” (which doesn’t actually make sense if you know anything about totem poles).
I had no idea! I used the term “spirit animal” all day and every day. And that’s really, really terrible.
But now I know better. And now that I know better, I am trying to do better. That’s my responsibility as an ethical and moral human.
(tip: instead of using the term “spirit animal” I now use the term “patronus”)
The same goes for the racist things you used to say as a child, perhaps a childhood nickname or colloquialism. If you learn now that it’s hurtful to people, then it’s your responsibility as a decent person to stop using it. Not to be defensive and say “well, it wasn’t racist in the 60’s” because actually, yes it was. It’s just that no one called you out on it. Just because something is common doesn’t mean it’s automatically not terrible.
This year I’ve had to call out a number of people on social media for posting shitty things on social media when they otherwise say that they are an ally (to people of color, to women, to the LGBTQ community, whatever). There are a number of people who have just been hidden from my social media timelines so I don’t see anything they post anymore. Some of the people though, I would like to see most of what they post so, there ya go. Currently, I’ve logged out of Facebook on my phone and on the computer and I’m taking a vacation from it.
But here’s a tip: If you post something that hurts someone and that someone points it out to you, the right response is to say, “I’m sorry I did something that hurt you / I’m sorry I didn’t pay attention to what I was posting / I’m sorry I wasn’t being the best ally” and then maybe think about deleting the post.
The wrong response is to say “What about me?” or “I didn’t think about it so oh well” or “Calling me out on something makes me uncomfortable so instead I’m going to point out how you’re wrong for calling me out and make myself feel better.”
If you know better, then DO better.