Sometimes it helps to flip the script

11 Apr

In the spirit of my WPC workshop, for those of you who aren’t able to attend, remember this Romney moment from the 2012 presidential campaign?

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them (

The question for many of us then and now is: so what do you say back to that?

Go ahead. Take a moment. Address Mr. Romney.

If it helps, you might first:

  • Notice your gut response. Not just what it is, but what kind of response it is: emotional, intellectual, moral, action-oriented? Also, where that response comes from–what experiences or identities does it activate for you?
  • Reflect on why this comment wasn’t surprising. How it was, in fact, culturally and socially understandable. (I didn’t say correct, I said understandable.)
  • Take a moment to consider what this comment could be about/where it’s coming from. Please entertain at least 3 possibilities.
  • Discern what you have to say, and how it’s most effective to say it. (You may not know the latter until you try, or with practice. The point is simply to consider how to be effective, as opposed to just right.)
  • Now give it a try. Imagine or have someone play the role of Romney, or someone else you know who believes that 47% of people feel entitled. And say what you have to say. Aloud. So you can hear yourself.

And keep practicing. Because when you least expect it, you’re going to have a chance to respond live and in person. And not responding (because you’re unprepared or unwilling–it doesn’t matter which) is also a response.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (or MP3): we all have a responsibility to stay “fit” and practice our skills for responding to these everyday 911 moments when equity, inclusion and justice are on the line. Thanks for practicing with me.

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