Whether you’re in the playground, the classroom, or by the office watering hole, calling out discriminatory behaviour or ignorant jokes can be difficult.
Trying to muster up the courage to intervene and “make it awkward” for someone that is speaking or behaving in a discriminatory manner often results in Positive-Action Paralysis*.
So, how can you conquer PAP and #MakeItAwkward at school or at workplace? Four words to keep in mind: Get The Lettuce Out (or, as the cool kids say, Gee Tee Elle Oh).
Have you ever had a piece of lettuce stuck in your teeth? You didn’t know it was there, right? And you’re always grateful for that friend or co-worker who actually tells you about it, and doesn’t let you walk around all day looking like an idiot.
Often, people who make ignorant jokes don’t know how harmful they can be. Similarly, people who engage in discriminatory behaviour sometimes do so without recognizing it or thinking about the ramifications.
Lets think about that racist remark or other discriminatory actions as if they are a piece of lettuce in your friend or colleague’s teeth. You can’t let them go on like that. Give your peers the benefit of the doubt. If they’re behaving in a negative or harmful way, they probably want to know about it. Respectfully explain why their words or actions are inappropriate and damaging.
*Positive-Action Paralysis: Occurs when a bystander witnesses or overhears discriminatory language or behaviour and is unable to intervene due to a lack of appropriate social tools. PAP is often followed by feelings of regret and anger for not doing more.