In an interview with CBC News, the woman identified herself as Carla Waldman, and since then, people have tracked down her Facebook page and bombarded it with comments.
The rant was racist. It doesn’t matter what happened before the camera was turned on. It doesn’t matter whether or not the family whom the rant was directed at said something rude to her about her parking. The rant was racist. That’s the inescapable truth.
However, bombarding the woman with comments and shouting at her accomplishes nothing.
Calling Someone A Racist Is Counter-Productive
For the record, I am Asian. The overwhelming amount of comments in support of the Asian family was nice to see. It brought out the best of people.
However, calling the woman a “racist c***”, or an “old hag”, or “skanky white ass”, which countless people have publically done on her Facebook profile? What does that accomplish? It’s not going to make her any less racist. In fact, it might just make her double-down on her beliefs.
Calling someone a racist, even if accurate like in this case, just makes the person defensive. It diverts attention away from that person’s racist actions and towards whether or not the person is a racist. Most importantly: It won’t make the person any less racist.
Even if the person feels a semblance of remorse, they will inevitably get defensive. It’s how you get the “I’m not a racist” non-defense defense, which Waldman has already given.
This isn’t to say that you should say nothing. But if somebody says something racist and your goal is to correct them, a more tactful approach, like “That comment was kind of racist”, would be more productive.
It’s a very small thing, but it makes a humongous difference, as it allows for the conversation to be centered around the action, rather than the person.
The Bigger Picture
The racist rant in Richmond was heinous and disgusting, but it doesn’t bother me as much as one might think.
What shocked me the most was the bravado of the woman and how naked her racism was. But it didn’t bother me. Just last month, a woman threw her backpack at a teenage girl on the bus for not speaking English. A teenage Muslim girl was verbally-abused. People who think and act like this exist.
Overt racism like this does not bother me much. Covert racism is what bothers me, as well as institutional racism, and systemic racism.
What bothers me is the people who think the same things Carla Waldman does, but display it in much subtler ways, such as overlooking a job applicant, or profiling based on race-based stereotypes.
What bothers me is the people who disguise their racism, then go on to commit race-driven mass murder, or the people who are completely unaware that their beliefs are racist.
“Better the Devil you know than the one you don’t”, the saying goes.
In the grand scheme of things, Carla Waldman’s racist rant is a blip on the radar. It’ll die as the news cycle progresses. However, what we can do is learn from it, and use it to facilitate a larger discussion.
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