MARCH 16, 2023

What To Say When Someone Tells You “I Don’t Need To Change”

It started out like any other DEIB training, when a White woman executive cut in…

“Listen,” she said, “I don’t need to change. My daughter has dated Black and Latino guys, and it doesn’t matter to me. I even helped out a Black friend by letting her sleep in my basement when she was struggling.”

Maybe you’ve heard it before too, someone asserting that they are not racist, or that because they have Black friends, or maybe that their husband or wife is “a minority” they don’t need to learn and change.

How should People of Color – or anyone, for that matter – respond to someone who is confident that they don’t need to change?

Affirm & Encourage

I responded to the woman by saying: “I can see that you’re an ally, so thank you. I’m going to challenge you that we all have room for growth and change, and you can use your voice to help others.”

This approach works because by making her feel comfortable, she’ll be more open to listening.

We Can All Grow, Always

I encourage all people to continually raise their awareness.

I work hard at this myself every day.

As our awareness is raised, we make better choices.

With higher consciousness comes responsibility. When you have a deeper understanding, it’s up to you to educate others.

Do you speak up when someone around you makes an uninformed assumption, acts with a bias, or makes a racial slur?

If not, maybe there is room for change.

I want you to use your privilege and power to amplify the voice of the voiceless.

Use Stories

Returning to the woman who didn’t think she needed to change, I next shared a story with her about entering a restaurant in front of a White couple. The hostess completely ignored me and seated the white couple instead.

“What would you do if you’d seen that?” I asked her.

“I would have turned around and left,” she responded.

“I appreciate that,” I said. “But before you did, would you tell the manager or owner why you’re leaving? They’ll hear it when it comes from you, a White woman. If I said something, I would come off as “just an angry Black woman.”

Do you see the difference?

It’s not easy to call allies into higher awareness, giving them what they need to be bold and speak up.

If you want to learn about how this can strengthen your organization, send me a note. I’d love to chat.