“I have a friend who keeps making offensive jokes about LGBT people and racist comments about Black people, but I don’t say anything. I don’t want my friend to be mad or hurt her feelings,” a colleague told me.
My reply, “If you are really a diversity champion, if you support equal rights and opportunity for everyone, then you need to say something. You’re not helping anyone when you let homophobic or racist statements slide. You are supporting ignorance and even withholding information that might benefit your friend and her view of the people who are different.”
I don’t believe in attacking people but I do believe in education. If you don’t stop friends when they make homophobic jokes about LGBT people, racist comments, or any other kind of bigoted statements then you are actually supporting them and not supporting diversity. Silence means consent.
This is not about some exaggerated sense of “political correctness,” (whatever that means these days.) It is about not standing there while people are being dehumanized.
It is also to your detriment if you only speak up about your own group or issue. Support for diversity, inclusion, and equality can be contagious but if you maintain a narrow definition, perspective and willingness to interact with other groups, diversity remains stuck and stagnant.
Don’t’ be lazy. Find out what is offensive to different groups and create your own strategy for educating others, particularly your friends and family.
Simma Lieberman is a Diversity and Inclusion strategy consultant, speaker and coach with a serious sense of humor. Invite her to speak at your next conference, meeting or event. Simma@simmalieberman.com or 510-527-0700.