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Tips for White People in Racially Mixed Settings

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  • Listen carefully to what people of color say about their experience. Notice if you are tempted to assume that you have had the same experience or that you have an answer to a question they might be asking. Just listen and take in as much as you can.
  • Be conscious of how much space you are taking up in a conversation. We want everyone to participate, not just the few people who feel comfortable taking the stage. Consider pausing to give space for people of color to speak first.
  • Understand that there will not be automatic trust between you and a person of color. Many people of color have had very painful experiences with white people and don’t want to repeat them. They will need to get to know you before they can trust you.
  • If a person of color tells you that something you said or did something that offended them, apologize, tell them that you will try to learn from this and change your behavior.


  • Don't make personal comments about anyone’s physical appearance.
  • Don’t ask to touch anyone’s hair.
  • Don't comment on people’s speaking style, word choice, accent, or other aspects of how they express themselves, even if you consider your comment positive.
  • Don't touch or hug anyone without asking.
  • Don't ask personal questions that imply non-belonging, e.g., "Where are you from?"  "What (race) are you?" "How did you learn to speak English so well?"
  • Don't say that you have had the same experience as a person of color; chances are that you haven’t.
  • Don't suggest that if people simply work hard they will be successful. Racism creates barriers to education, employment, healthcare and housing. These barriers are real.
  • Don't expect people of color to educate you about racism.  People of color often have the experience of being expected to explain their experiences of racism to white people.
  • Don’t dismiss the impact you had by focusing on how you didn’t intend for it to come across that way.

-From the East Bay Meditation Center

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