With the protests currently underway in the United States and multiple countries against the murder of George Floyd, who is the latest victim of police brutality, it made me wonder how each and every one of us deals with institutional racism and the broader institutional xenophobia.
Part of dismantling institutional racism is being open to change and accepting mistakes. There is no shame in asking for an apology or accepting an apology. There are, however, nuances to an apology. The apology should be true and shows acceptance of responsibilities for own’s action. Many times you would hear apologies like
“I am sorry if you felt hurt”
This is not an apology. It makes apology conditional and questionable. It makes it sound like the victim is responsible for their own hurt and they could have avoided it if they just “didn’t feel hurt”. Instead, try
“I am sorry for my actions and apologize for my behavior which cause you harm”
Much better. Let’s break it down
- Acknowledges one’s actions.
2. Acknowledges one’s behavior.
3. Acknowledges that one’s actions and behavior caused harm.
If you ever hear a non-apology, gently remind them that the apology should be about taking responsibility. Do not be forceful and put them in a spot. Be gentle yet still stand your ground.