use social psychology theory to explain what would lead someone to confront the person who made the offensive comment or joke, when doing so may likely make them the target of the joke teller’s retaliation.
Though this happened years ago, I still remember it vividly. When I was in 7th grade, my friends and I were at lunch talking about a test that most of the class had not prepared for. One of the white Latinas in my class who was labeled as a ‘popular’, had come up to my friend and I holding a large a chicken nugget and said, “Look it’s shaped like your country” and proceeded to laugh and make clicking sounds with her mouth. For context, my peer and I are black and the nugget she had displayed was shaped like Africa. No one knew what to say and she was the only one laughing. Apart from her labeling a continent as a country, my peer and I are both Afro-Latino, so our offense was strictly toward her bigoted behavior and clear lack of knowledge. Looking at it from a social psychology viewpoint, staying mute in this instance can hold different perceptions. Even if a joke is “funny”, it does not negate those that find it offensive, I firmly believe that intent does not equal impact. One of the factors to rule in with this girl specifically was the reasoning behind her so-called joke. There’s the possibility that she made the joke toward us based on negative stereotypes or the conditioned ideology that Latin culture holds toward Afro-Latinos that is primarily fueled on colorism. Regardless of her intention behind it, it was not kind. Aronson et. al (2019) notes that prejudice attitudes hold negative intent and through that meaning, there is the chance that she was trying to provoke us by using phrasing that can be perceived as harmful.