How do you stand up to a group of white female bullies when you are an ethnic racial minority male in the US? Many answers on bullying involves confronting a single, male bully without resorting to physical violence.
In actuality, the worst kind of bullying happens when groups of white female students gang up on a single ethnic racial minority student (i.e. an ESL student). In this scenario, group dynamic, race, and gender all factor into the equation. The violence incurred is never physical, almost always psychological. How should one confront or cope with such situation?
You have to deny the girls what it is they want. Generally, they want to be seen as cool and to socially exclude the minority or person who is “other.” They are looking for power and social status. To deny them this, you have to not submit to their power display AND, make them look bad socially.
Having something to say in response to their most common slurs is needed. Doesn’t matter what it is. It can be a joke that makes them look bad or stupid for being so horrid. Or it can be something as simple as “that’s rude.” The key is to say whatever is going to be said calmly and in a neutral tone of voice. It is best to practice it by having a friend hurl taunts at you until you can say your go to phrase easily and bored when challenged. It is also important to practice making eye contact (or if that is to uncomfortable, practice looking at an ear or the top of the head – as long as you don’t look down). The combination of bored tone of voice and standing your grown while not displaying submission is what you are looking for. This is what “standing up to a bully” looks like. You don’t argue with them or engage with them. You say your chosen go to phrase and look them in the eye or as close to their face as possible and wait for them to respond.
They will most likely respond by challenging you again verbally. When they do, you repeat your go to phrase. You do this as many times as is needed for them to choose to walk away and disengage from you. It doesn’t matter what they say verbally to you. Just that you respond and don’t back down – make them leave you.
Document and report every incident. And I mean every single incident. Bullying is a habit and it is broken as all habits are – through consistency. By documenting everything they are doing and reporting them, you are raising the cost associated with bullying you. They not only won’t get the response from you they want, they will also get in trouble. Consistency is key.
They will almost definitely up their attacks on you in order to get you to stop reporting them. Don’t stop reporting them. You are doing them and everyone else in the school a favor by holding them accountable for their racist and ethnic slurs. They will escalate and retaliate. That means they don’t like what you are doing and believe it or not, it means what you are doing is working. The escalation is an unfortunately necessary part of their learning to stop. The key is to be consistent in how you respond to them and how you report them. If you are lenient, you will let them get away with it and that will keep them going. You have to be consistent. It’s critical to get them to stop, even when they get really really nasty. Just remember, if you are documenting everything, then as they get nasty and really nasty and really obnoxious, they are increasing the consequences that they will receive. They are digging their own hole.
Finally, if they threaten violence or engage in actual violence against you – that is criminal behavior. Report them and do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. But report it. If they threaten you, simply say – if you do that – I will report you – in a calm tone of voice with eye contact. If they do whatever it is, report them. But document the threat made even if they back down. If they physically attack you, defend yourself, get away and report it and get medical care and document it. We have a family suing a local school because the girl was battered by a bully and needed medical care as a result.
If they move into the cyber world – do not respond. Pretend like you didn’t see it but capture screen shots all the same and report them. What gets them to stop is the consistency of your reporting and the consistency of your neutral response to them.