Sometimes my friend is kind of racist. I mean, he knows half of my family is Native, but he says the most wack stuff sometimes. How can I call him on it and explain it so he understands?
You know, Zack, my instinct is to tell you that if someone makes fun of you, they are not really your friend, but this one might be more complicated. Because sometimes people who say racist things don’t realize that they are being inappropriate. Plus you obviously think you friend is worth your time, because you’ve written to me about it, so here goes.
There are some things you can do in this situation. First – and this is kind of a like duh – but talk to your friend. Speak up the next time you hear him say a racist comment or joke and tell him how it makes you feel. The thing is- people often ignore small comments or jokes, because they don’t know what to say. But the issue is that staying silent (or laughing along or even smiling a little) can make him think you agree or that it’s ok. He might not actually realize that he is being offensive.
If he responds pretty well and apologizes, you can share with your friend the things you value about your Native culture. Your friend might learn a lot from you about tolerance, and when not to say stupid stuff! Geez!!!…We are always learning as people, and maybe there are just some lessons your friend still needs to learn.
On the other hand if this doesn’t work and your friend responds negatively, maybe you should reconsider your friendship. Because, Zack, a friend that doesn’t respect your culture, values, and opinions is not someone you want to keep around.