How to Tell Someone They Said Something Racist

During a time when racial oppression and identity are being discussed with such a passionate and necessary frequency, Jay Smooth provides some much needed guidance for how to hold someone accountable for their racism in a more constructive way.

Rather than calling people out for being a racist — even if they have demonstrated themselves to be exactly that — he argues that we should focus instead on how and why the language they used was oppressive. This way, people can reflect on and address the impact of their actions, rather than focusing on defending their character or intentions.

This is the sort dialogue that can lead to transformative justice, critical self-reflection, and potential healing for all parties involved.

Please read more Everyday Feminism articles about accountability, privilege, and dialogue:

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Jay Smooth hosts New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, WBAI’s Underground Railroad, and founded one of the first hip-hop websites, In 2007 he started the first Hip-Hop videoblog at, which has since blossomed into an important, award-winning website. He been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, was named a “Breakout Star” by New TeeVee, and his podcast was cited as one of the “Best of 2008” by iTunes. Follow him on Twitter @jsmooth995.