Being anti-racist means being willing to have hard conversations with your friends, and being willing to lose them if they won't listen. That's just how it is. If you think you can call yourself anti-racist and also never face hard choices and never lose anyone... like, that's cute and all but just not how things work.


Racist friends: Arguments and counterarguments 

"But they're a good person!" Fine, then they should be willing to do the right thing and listen to moral arguments.

"They've been good to me!" So are you really okay with their treating others like crap for who they are?

"They're my friend!" How good of a friend are they, really, if they don't listen to you and don't share your core values?

"...I don't want to be alone." You won't be. Take it from someone who has lost multiple friends over racism. You'll find better friendships where you don't have to constantly edit yourself down to be palatable to your friends. You'll make new and better friends that you can be your own shape around. If you find yourself biting your tongue half your time around them, they're not your friends. You deserve better.

Also I know it can be hard to talk to a friend about their casual bigotry, but don't you do them an insult by assuming they will brush you off or even turn on you if you speak to them? If your speaking up does sour the friendship, at least you know you did them the honor of believing the best of them. It's only a shame that they didn't live up to your trust.

And if you know for a fact they will react badly, or have in the past... how and why are they your friend?

And I lay this charge mostly on people with some level of freedom and privilege, and I only include freely-chosen relationships with some level of emotional intimacy, hence friendship. Keeping up civil appearances with family, bosses, and other acquaintances for one's own support, sustenance, or social peace is often not a matter of choice, especially for marginalized people. Elective relationships that one enters into expecting mutual openness and honesty, on the other hand? Bigotry absolutely should be a deal-breaker.

@ljwrites tbh even as an otherwise-marginalized person in a bad position I think a lot about exactly how much I can push back against this stuff

I understand deeply and personally how being trans means in some sense I'm never safe so I think it's reasonable to negotiate how much safety I can sacrifice for racially marginalized people without doing anyone irreparable harm

@nisima yeah it's a delicate balance but something we should all think about, ideally.

@ljwrites This part is so important. Avoiding giving someone the opportunity to handle hard information well is doing them a major disservice and also means like a hundred different things about what I've already decided about them.

like, I'm not convinced it's possible to really get to know someone without seeing how they handle conflict, and if I am avoiding giving someone the chance to show me their quality, usually it's because I already know I can't trust (and don't respect) them.

so what exactly am I losing there? If I've learned they can't be trusted, odds are I'm already a way better friend/relative/partner to them than they're being to me, which means I'm the one who is more difficult to replace. People who make it scary to be honest with them about major values stuff (is the world fair? should it be?) are abundant and low value.

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