How do discussions around racism make you feel? Do you believe it’s an overflogged issue and wish people- especially black people- would please give it a rest already? Does it make you feel like leaving the room? You might be happy to know that you are not alone.
It’s quite common for people to find discussions of oppression and crime uncomfortable especially when they share similarities with the oppressor or criminal. For example, most muslims might hate for 9/11 to be brought up as they are scared it might end up in a hate speech about Muslims. Males get antsy when the rape of females is being talked about.
I think the reason is because it makes them feel personally attacked. It almost feels like an accusation. You are left feeling confused about what to say or do. If you keep quiet, are you endorsing the greatest mass kidnap in the human history and its residual effects (racism/slave trade)?
Since you are scared of being thought to be endorsing the crime or oppression that is being discussed, your first thoughts are to put up a defence urgently. You want to put ut out there that you are one of the good ones. So, you blurt out the first defence that comes to mind.
Typically, the defence is a less-than-clever one. ‘I went to Kenya with my family last year’. ‘My neighbour is African. Our kids are good friends’. ‘I wore braids for 2 weeks last month’. This adds to the awkwardness and ruins your chance to actually express what your stance is.
I urge you to calm down and listen to the discussion. It might just be someone expressing their frustration about personal and genuine or perceived encounters of racism. It’s unlikely to be directed at you specifically. Don’t rush to put up a defence or dismiss their concerns or opinions.
If history is brought up, remember it is useful to discuss these things that tbey may never happen again.