I had a bit of a quandary I mean I was in a bit of one some time ago. This is it:
If you were teaching someone who made what you felt to be an inappropriate comment with regards race, would you:
a) challenge the student to justify the comment?
b) move the conversation to what you hope will be an enlightening and meaningful discussion on racism?
c) change the subject?
d) state your position and refuse to teach the student?
As a self-confessed coward, my choice is c) on most days, or if I’m feeling mentally fluent and on top of things, a). I cannot in all conscience choose d). The client has paid and it behoves me as teacher or trainer or facilitator (what ARE we called these days?) to soldier on with the lesson regardless. b) is too risky, unless all bases are covered and some sort of Plan B is in place.
I’m surprised at myself in that I would not feel the same sense of trepidation if the – ism was anything other than racism. I’m quite happy to approach, deal with, manage, work around, with or through any of the others, but racism has me dumbstruck. I know that’s because I’m South African and race was and still is to a certain degree a hugely important and challenging thing here. And as such my views are concretised and inviolable – racism CANNOT prevail.
The other -isms? Maybe my views just aren’t as strong, or I tend to be a bit beige and see everyone’s point of view. I’m going to read Willy on PARSNIPS again and reflect on my answers to the very thought-provoking questions he poses.
I’ll get back to you Willy.