Ever had to correct a racist relative? Here's a handy guide on how to do it.

You're minding your own business, scrolling the feed, liking pics of toddlers at the pumpkin patch, and suddenly there it is:

"I'm glad that illegals are facing consequences! Illegal immigration is ILLEGAL! I can't afford my doctor bills, why should I pay theirs?"

Oh. Hi, Aunt Linda.

GIF from "Cinderella."


You know it's your job to collect her, right? (That's "collect" in casual vernacular meaning "make her stop" or "go pick her up and get her under control.") You're supposed to blow your ally whistle and snatch Aunt Linda so she can't do anymore harm.

But then this debate happens in your head:

She's wrong and she needs to know how wrong she is!

Whoa whoa whoa. She's from a different time.

Tell her off, right there on her Facebook page!

I don't want to offend her, though. And hey, everybody starts somewhere.

That's white supremacy talking! Unfriend her! No mercy!

Be kind — try to understand her point of view!









It's a tough call. You know you should deal with Aunt Linda. But how?

How do you wade through the swamp of warring voices in your head? How do you collect Aunt Linda?

Fear not: We're here to guide you through it. Stop chewing your fingernails, and let's get to work.

1. Know your goal.

First, let's redefine "collect."

It's not your job to save Aunt Linda's soul. It is your job to make her uncomfortable about casually demonizing immigrants on the internet.

When you collect folks, don't worry about being perfect. Your goal is to speak up, challenge racist ideas, make mistakes, learn from them, and keep going.

Think of yourself as a human Taboo buzzer when a friend, relative, or back-asswards stranger strays into unacceptable territory. It's not OK, Aunt Linda!

2. Be patient. Invest in the "half-wokes."

It takes time to help people empathize. Don't expect a sudden transformation.

Aunt Linda might not change today, but guess who else read her post? A whole crew of half-woke white people who see that her post was cruel and racist but also don't fully understand the politics of why. They have good intentions but have not yet learned that intentions don't really matter unless they act on them.

Invest your time and energy in those people. Some of them will get defensive and storm off. But others will grow. Remember that when you reply to Aunt Linda, those people are reading (and learning).

3. Get angry.

Yes. Aunt Linda has just said something really offensive. You get to be pissed off about that!

Anger is the appropriate emotional response to witnessing the systematic and interpersonal dehumanization, humiliation, and violence against other human beings.

4. But don't get too angry.

Boy oh boy, does it feels good to lay into a racist without mercy! The problem is that's not your anger.

You're angry with Aunt Linda on behalf of other people — the people of color she wants to deport who have to hear her say "all lives matter." And the madder you get, the better you feel. You are genuinely mad, but be honest:  You're also kind of impressed with yourself.

Recognize what exactly you're doing here. You're stealing anger rooted in someone else's suffering and harvesting its fruit to feed YOUR pride. If you're getting angry about other people's pain, then your anger had better be serving those people, not yourself. So yes, get angry. But never forget whose anger it is.

5. Hit the books.

The tools of your trade are facts, stats, knowledge, and more facts. Here's an example of a helpful response:

"Aunt Linda, it's a common assumption that undocumented immigrants drain public resources. But actually, most undocumented immigrants pay taxes and contribute to social security, are employed, and aren't even eligible for most social safety nets. Check out this article: 'Do Undocumented Immigrants Overuse Government Benefits?' Or this one: 'Immigration Myths Debunked.'"

Not only will you be rooting your argument in fact, but you'll also be sharing resources with those other conversation watchers who can turn around and share them with their Aunt Lindas, too.

Include a couple of salient details in your comment; don't just post a link as your entire response. And never forget to check your sources.

6. Assume everyone is capable of learning.

Many of us white allies make excuses for people who say racist things — "She's so sheltered" or "He grew up in the South." These excuses help you blame a person's racist actions on something else, effectively claiming they're irreversibly racist. Not only is that untrue, but it says something about you, too.

What you might not realize is that you're side-stepping and, worse, enabling. Don't get it twisted: Making excuses for racists turns you into an apologist.

Every person who can type something racist on the internet is also capable of typing something not racist on the internet. Stop inventing excuses for them.

7. Remember you're not anyone's hero.

Collecting people is highly visible and often dramatic. As these conversations get heated, responses get more poetic, powerful, visceral, and staunch. Sometimes you'll type or say something transcendently awesome, and you'll feel like anchorman Ron Burgundy.

GIF from "Anchorman."

When you catch yourself trying to get in the spotlight, stop.

"It's obvious to everyone, it creates aggravating extra work for the people of color you want to help, and it's a transparent bid for everyone to recognize that you are one of the good ones," explains Mia McKenzie of Black Girl Dangerous.

Stay focused. Your job isn't to show off how great an ally you are; it's to show Aunt Linda that what she said was wrong and to protect the people she's hurting.

Along those lines, if you're ever in that conversation with Aunt Linda and your friend Ana hops on to offer her perspective as a daughter of immigrants, your job just changed. Your turn to talk has ended; you are now the "liker" of everything Ana says and the bodyguard who protects Ana's space to speak.

Remember, you are not the hero, and this isn't about you. Stay focused.

8. Be brave, and don't give up.

If you're doing this right, Aunt Linda will get mad at you, you will lose friends, and you will get a reputation for being an evangelical anti-racist. But if you are as anti-racist as you like to think you are, then you won't be scared of the consequences of speaking up about it.

You still have it easier than people of color because you still get to choose when and where you engage in conversations about race. If you're tired, imagine how exhausted people of color must be. If you feel hopeless, keep going as if you had no other choice because the people you're fighting for do not.

Show up. Speak up. Go collect your racist aunt. That's what integrity looks like.

This story was originally published on Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

More

Disney has come under fire for problematic portrayals of non-white and non-western cultures in many of its older movies. They aren't the only one, of course, but since their movies are an iconic part of most American kids' childhoods, Disney's messaging holds a lot of power.

Fortunately, that power can be used for good, and Disney can serve as an example to other companies if they learn from their mistakes, account for their misdeeds, and do the right thing going forward. Without getting too many hopes up, it appears that the entertainment giant may have actually done just that with the new Frozen II film.

According to NOW Toronto, the producers of Frozen II have entered into a contract with the Sámi people—the Indigenous people of the Scandinavian regions—to ensure that they portray the culture with respect.

RELATED: This fascinating comic explains why we shouldn't use some Native American designs.

Though there was not a direct portrayal of the Sámi in the first Frozen movie, the choral chant that opens the film was inspired by an ancient Sámi vocal tradition. In addition, the clothing worn by Kristoff closely resembled what a Sámi reindeer herder would wear. The inclusion of these elements of Sámi culture with no context or acknowledgement sparked conversations about cultural appropriation and erasure on social media.

Frozen II features Indigenous culture much more directly, and even addressed the issue of Indigenous erasure. Filmmakers Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, along with producer Peter Del Vecho, consulted with experts on how to do that respectfully—the experts, of course, being the Sámi people themselves.

Sámi leaders met with Disney producer Peter Del Vecho in September 2019.Sámediggi Sametinget/Flickr

The Sámi parliaments of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the non-governmental Saami Council reached out to the filmmakers when they found out their culture would be highlighted in the film. They formed a Sámi expert advisory group, called Verddet, to assist filmmakers in with how to accurately and respectfully portray Sámi culture, history, and society.

In a contract signed by Walt Disney Animation Studios and Sámi leaders, the Sámi stated their position that "their collective and individual culture, including aesthetic elements, music, language, stories, histories, and other traditional cultural expressions are property that belong to the Sámi," and "that to adequately respect the rights that the Sámi have to and in their culture, it is necessary to ensure sensitivity, allow for free, prior, and informed consent, and ensure that adequate benefit sharing is employed."

RELATED: This aboriginal Australian used kindness and tea to trump the racism he overheard.

Disney agreed to work with the advisory group, to produce a version of Frozen II in one Sámi language, as well as to "pursue cross-learning opportunities" and "arrange for contributions back to the Sámi society."

Anne Lájla Utsi, managing director at the International Sámi Film Institute, was part of the Verddet advisory group. She told NOW, "This is a good example of how a big, international company like Disney acknowledges the fact that we own our own culture and stories. It hasn't happened before."

"Disney's team really wanted to make it right," said Utsi. "They didn't want to make any mistakes or hurt anybody. We felt that they took it seriously. And the film shows that. We in Verddet are truly proud of this collaboration."

Sounds like you've done well this time, Disney. Let's hope such cultural sensitivity and collaboration continues, and that other filmmakers and production companies will follow suit.

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