How do you apologize for hating black people?

How to sincerely apologize - a guide

In the series of articles “How do we actually talk to each other?” We deal with various forms and theories of communication. Many of these methods are taught in psychology, for example - they are often as simple as they are logical. They can be integrated into our daily life without any effort. We at think that a reasonable culture of debate is important for our togetherness.

There are a few things that I have done that I am genuinely ashamed of. Worst of all, I was sober with some of them. There's one memory that hasn't really let go of me for years.

I had a colleague, let's call her Ivie. Ivie was born in Germany, her father comes from the Ivory Coast - she is black. We worked closely together for over two years. We got on well and of course we made jokes with each other. We found some of them good, some rather medium. It built up the better we knew each other. Until someone like this suddenly came from me: “Well, Ivie, they had to take your drums away from you here in Germany when you arrived. You all do that in Africa all the time. ”Ivie suddenly fell silent. Even if she walked over it, I noticed how much that sat.

How it doesn't work

Ouch, am I embarrassed. How does that shitty, racist joke get into my head? Today I sink into the office chair in shame as I type this. I never apologized to Ivie for saying that. If Ivie had pointed out to me at the time that I had insulted her racially, I would certainly have gone completely on the defensive:

"Do not take it too seriously. Honestly, everything has to be so terribly politically correct these days. "

I would probably also have explained to her that it was not my intention to offend her and would have apologized like this:

"I'm sorry you got this the wrong way."

That is of course so wrong. Instead of apologizing, in the end I would have accused her of having misunderstood my insult and that she shouldn't have acted like that.

What I should have done

But what exactly do you say? A study by Steven J. Scher and John M. Darley, published in 1997 in the Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, provides the theory. The pair presented a short story to 32 psychology and anthropology students in which one guy, Ralph, fails to keep an important appointment with a customer and only calls him a few days later. Without knowing how Ralph would behave further, the students should evaluate his character. Then came the second part of the story, in which Ralph apologized. In four different ways. And again, the students should rate the character. It was tested which excuse would best restore his reputation. The most effective way to apologize therefore consists of four steps:

Step 1: express your remorse

In any case, start with "Sorry that ..." or "I'm sorry that ..."

Step 2: take responsibility

Name what you've done. Do not justify yourself - no defensive "but" or "if you" follow up. Even if you did not have any bad intentions, the hurt happened and it is real. Just say what went wrong - if you're not sure, ask and listen.

Step 3: If possible, offer adequate compensation

"If there is anything I can do to make it right, please let me know." Before apologizing, think about this step. What can you really do And what is appropriate?

Step 4: promise it won't happen again

And then don't just say it, change your behavior too. This, too, is an essential part of the sincere apology: learning from your lousy feelings of guilt and changing your behavior. The Youtuber Chescaleigh even pleads for thanking you for being shown your mistake.

Even if I didn't make it then, I would now like to apologize to Ivie.

Dear Ivie ...

… I am sorry. I insulted you racially and thus degraded you. You can be sure that I won't say that again. In the meantime I have fortunately learned a little more sensitivity for such situations - partly through you. Thanks for that.