Ask Athena: Crocodile Tears

Pushing back when biased peers play the victim. 

Q: A parent at my son’s school made what I thought was a very white-privileged assumption so I spoke up, only to be pulled aside later and chided for “making a scene” in front of the students. Unfair! I had been firm but not loud or disrespectful. Why is it OK to be supremacist out in the open but anti-racism is considered rude?


I want to support you in calling out white-privileged behavior in front of students. Or, any kind of racist behavior. There are a lot of details missing here, but let me describe the parameters that I think should be generally followed. Athena prioritizes educating and understanding over being seen as “right” or being part of the cancel culture. First, the person calling out the behavior should not point fingers or call names. The reaction to that will focus on the accused. That is where defensiveness and divisions start.

Instead, the behavior should be questioned: “I am hearing this assumption, and it sounds to me like white privilege. What are you trying to say? I think, instead, we should be thinking about…” Get people thinking about the content and why it is important to draw attention to it. When someone is “attacked” in public, people will rally around that person. Instead, you want people to think about the content of the words that are being said and how harmful they are to everyone in the room.

The reason bullies get away with bullying behavior is because people don’t stand up to them.  Maybe people don’t even recognize what they see or hear as supremacist. Standing up and speaking out is part of resisting this behavior. Students need to see adults standing up and taking a stand.

It has to happen even if it makes people uncomfortable. People might have chided you because they see an individual going after another individual.  But, it really doesn’t matter if people think you are rude. If you are speaking out against had behavior, you are doing the right thing.  Who cares if it violates some unspoken social norm. It should. Keep it up.

But also make sure you are checking your own privileges or assumptions. We all carry biases. That it why you should focus on understanding and growth. It helps us all.

— A


After generations of being conditioned to avoid discussing racism with other Caucasians, it’s often quite socially uncomfortable to call out each other’s racist and privileged behaviors. But it’s so important that we do, because otherwise our silent complicity enables hurtful and even dangerous words and actions.

The good news is, anyone can effectively push back by starting an open and compassionate conversation. Learn more! The White Anti-Racism Caucus of RECLAIM-PHL aims to address the ways the culture of white supremacy permeates our society, ourselves, and even our advocacy efforts. Organizers sponsor local events and campaigns to promote multiracial power networks to create a more equitable world for everyone.

Fun Fact: diversity isn’t just a fun and fair way to live, but it’s also financially rewarding! Harvard Business School reports that firms are 33% more profitable when their executive/management teams represent cultural and ethnic minorities. A study by Boston Consulting Group found diversity boosted a company’s innovation as well as revenue. Tell all the die-hard Capitalists in your circle that integration should be their number one priority ❤️💛🤎🤍🖤💰💰💰💯 .

AGREE? DISAGREE? Please leave your remarks below in the Comments.

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Read last month’s Ask Athena here.

About Athena 44 Articles
When she’s not advising mortals, Athena spends her time on earth in NW Philly with her husband, two sons and a day job where she’s paid to tell important people what to do (naturally). Send your questions to

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