January 18, 2010

Monday Manners 1/18/10

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Inspired by it being Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today's manner is about how to respond to racist or degrading jokes.

I have a confession.  There was a time in my life when I thought a joke was a joke and if it was funny, I'd laugh.  It didn't seem like I was doing anything wrong since I would hear jokes about every race, religion, gender, etc.  But I was wrong.

So how do you handle these awkward situations?  From a Miss Manners column in 2007:

"Stony face is, in fact, the basic correct response.  There is a less harsh version however, for relatives and others with whom you may have reason to continue dealing.  This is to look puzzled."

Personally, I like the idea of looking confused.  "I don't get it?  Was that supposed to be funny?"  Seems like a non-confrontational way to get the point across.

For more ideas, check out this thread on Democratic Underground.com:  What do you do when people tell racist jokes around you?


  1. Ha! I think I do a variation of the stone face - a critical "I'm still waiting for you to say something funny" kind of face. :)

  2. I've found that if I ask them to explain why it's funny it suddenly becomes very awkward for them. Lately my "I don't get it" face has been sincere. I really had no idea why they thought it was funny.