A few thoughts and meditations on Halloween and various other holiday costumes and jokes that one might want to reconsider:
1) If I’m ignorant of the ways in which my action is stereotyping and/or mocking, I’m still stereotyping and/or mocking. My ignorance of context does not change the nature of my action;
2) Describing myself as “ignorant” about something is not self-deprecating but a simple statement of fact—that I have something to learn;
3) My personal experiences of prejudice (homophobia, sexism, classism, etc) do not trump my white privilege;
4) The process of listening and considering other folks’ perspectives and experiences—especially when they are different from my own—is more important than any inconvenience or discomfort I may experience. Rather than “walking on eggshells,” this is an opportunity to learn;
5) If I offend someone out of my own ignorance (of which I have plenty!), I can apologize and thank the person for taking their time and energy to say something. No, I will not say, “I’m sorry you felt that way.” Instead, I will take responsibility for my behavior by saying, “I’m sorry that I said/did ________________ and I will make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Lastly, one of the teenagers in my life turned me on to this excellent video about how to apologize by Franchesca Ramsey (a.k.a. chescaleigh). Here’s what an authentic apology sounds like.
Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8xJXKYL8pU