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A UNC student is apartment-hunting with her mother. They are in a restaurant, making friendly conversation with people at another table. Her mother asks which neighborhoods are good for students. The man at the other table says, “Pretty much all of the neighborhoods in town are fine; we try to keep the illegals and hoodlums out in Durham.” She says, “I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. How do you confront a stranger in a restaurant? Or do you? I’ll never forget the shock and anger I felt at that moment.”

Possible Responses

  • Say nothing. A questioning, disapproving or astonished glance may be an effective response in a situation where speaking directly may be unsafe. Keep it moving.
  • Say something. If you do choose to respond, state clearly, “I find that offensive. If that’s true it makes me think less of Chapel Hill”.
  • Accent your surprise, “Illegals?”
  • Before leaving, speak to the owner/manager of the restaurant about the incident and the negative effect it had on your dining experience. End with, “perhaps you should speak to him so you don’t lose more business.”
  • Report the incident to a local advocacy group. Many local groups track these moments and can recognize patterns and work with local government in ways that you may be unable to.