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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Indianapolis, IN
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    Racial remarks from family

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    I am curious if any of you have experience dealing with racial remarks from family members. I don't even want to go to my family's Christmas dinner now.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    West MI
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    4,259
    Not my family, but my DH's late grandmother liked to call anyone not-white "ethnic"...as if that was politically correct. And she would rant and throw out stereotypes at ever given opportunity. Thankfully she passed away before our DS was old enough to pick up on any of her BS. For years I warned my DH that if his grandma ever said anything overly offensive in front of her kid that I would not keep my trap shut. She (and her childless son) also apparently criticized our parenting behind our backs, until my MIL put her in her place. Our son has ADHD and Aspbergers. He is a sweet, kind, and loving kid, but can be pretty wound-up. Before either of his diagnoses he was a handful. Had I known she was making these comments behind our backs I would have taken her to task in front of everyone. Nasty biotch, she was.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
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    55
    years ago I was dating the man I am now (had a marriage to someone else in between, long story LOL). Anyway, I took him home to meet my family. BF is Philiipino. I honestly never thought of our relationship as interracial until I was talking to my brother after the trip and he asked me what I was doing dating "The Chinc." Needless to say, i don't have a very good relationship with that brother anymore, especially now that BF is back in my life. And for the record, I still don't think of him as anything else than a man who is very sweet to me and treats me better than any man ever did.
    L

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Erin, Ontario
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    188
    Yes I have this same problem. I actually have had it twice. (I was married, divorced and am re-married) The kids dad's family was racist and made comments when we were there with our children. I limited the amount of time we spent with them. But I have to say, my kid's were not the least bit influenced by their behaviour. My kids (now 22 and 27) still go to family get togethers with them and then they come home and tell me stories some times and roll their eyes. The kids know that they are not going to change the ignorance of their family members. My current in-laws are also racist and I only see them once a year at Christmas. My MIL is in her 80's and she comes to our house for dinner more often. I had to tell her straight out one day that I am not racist and I don't want her to talk that way in my house. It is funny that both men were or are not racist even though they grew up in those families. I have talked to my husband about his family and his feelings about other races etc. He truly doesn't see people differently because they are of another race or religion etc. Considering how his family behaves, it would be pretty hard for him to hide that from me. They are brutal.

    ETA: I just re-read OP. I go to the family Christmas get together because it is the one thing I can do for the man I married who is so good to me and so loving. He really loves his mother (warts and all) and it makes him happy that I go and pretend. He knows how I feel and he respects my feelings so that we go at the last minute and leave at the earliest possible moment.
    Last edited by DebSP; 11-25-2012 at 04:11 AM.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    Well, I haven't been so forgiving with my extended family about this. In the end, my kids were not influenced at all, because we discussed all the terrible stuff they heard and they ultimately ended up rolling their eyes, too.
    DH's parents were terribly racist, but not in an overt way. It would slip out, though. My maternal grandparents and my aunt and cousins who live locally, are some of the most xenophobic people I know. Holiday dinners when my kids were growing up were always political fights. Heck, I have my grandfather on video, talking about back in the day, when "Rose Kennedy was (insert Yiddish word for having sex) with all of the Jewish boys." Yes, this was the tone of my family. It was so awful, it was funny. These people are/were afraid of anyone who is different. For example, for quite a few years, they rented a house on the Cape, where another family who sat near them on the beach had a multiply handicapped daughter. They went on and on about this girl. It was like they were repelled but fascinated. Another time, when my oldest cousin was about 12, he went to visit my parents in AZ. They were in the grocery store and a guy with a gun hanging in a holster walked by (needless to say, you don't see this in MA). Apparently, my cousin had such an anxiety attack when seeing this "cowboy," my mom had to bring him out of the store and go home. And if a person of color ever ended up in their neighborhood, they talked on and on about it.
    I guess what I did worked, because my my youngest son first joined the Marines, he told me he had more in common with the kids who grew up in the ghetto than the "rednecks" from small towns who just had no life experience with different types of people.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Uncanny Valley
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    My in-laws are that way. DH is totally NOT (obviously I hope) - we don't spend a lot of time around them, but when we do I just mostly follow his cue and let it pass. And wait till we get home. But I've had a lot of practice, probably way too much, pretending everything's okay when it's very much not.

    I'm 1/4 Chinese but don't particularly look it. Growing up, my parents vocally supported civil rights but quite properly made it clear that it wasn't about us. It wasn't until I read Loving v Virginia when I was in law school and mentioned it to my mom, that she told me that she and my dad would've preferred to get married at a church in Virginia, but legally couldn't. I was floored.

    So it was with that in mind that once, after probably one too many glasses of wine, when DH's cousin made a remark at the dinner table, that I let slip the line I'd been keeping inside for a while: "It's amazing the things people will say when they assume you're white."



    ETA: But we have no children. That makes it all very different. I think probably if we did, I'd figure that kids are going to hear that stuff sooner or later, and family occasions are probably as good a time as any to have to explain racism to a child.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 11-25-2012 at 05:22 AM.
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    3,176
    Sometimes racist, sometimes clueless, often kind of mean.
    We've got the whole assortment. I will only go to family gatherings if enough of the people I like will be there to make it worth putting up with the ones I don't like.
    Each day is a gift, that's why it is called the present.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
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    I made it clear I didn't find those sorts of jokes funny. Then my sister-in-law divorced that guy so I don't have to put up with it.
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    10,889
    I rarely see my family, which is sad but there are reasons for it. Winding Road, I am sorry to hear that you had to endure this - that would be very upsetting. {{{WR}}}

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
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    Quote Originally Posted by WindingRoad View Post
    I am curious if any of you have experience dealing with racial remarks from family members. I don't even want to go to my family's Christmas dinner now.
    Then don't. I'm not sure of the details, but perhaps it would be appropriate to tell the offending party or parties that unless and until they can behave, you'll spend your holidays elsewhere. I don't want to assume anything in terms of what happened, but you might ask J how he would prefer you approach it.

    Of my family's various faults, overt racism isn't one of them, but they have plenty of other issues that have warranted me keeping my distance, from my siblings specifically. While I am sad about that, I don't regret the decision to estrange myself from them, as it's brought a lot of peace to my life that was otherwise lacking. I'm not suggesting that you have to go to that extreme, but life's too short to subject yourself and those you love to that particular flavor of abuse.

    Hugs; I'm sorry you're having to deal with this.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

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  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
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    the dry side
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    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel View Post
    Then don't. I'm not sure of the details, but perhaps it would be appropriate to tell the offending party or parties that unless and until they can behave, you'll spend your holidays elsewhere.
    /\ this.... it is the standard proper approach via ettiquette, whether you follow Miss Manner, Emily Post or the advice columns.
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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
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    13,394
    I was starting to soften my attitude toward my aunt until this thread reminded me that my life is better without her and her kids. I just wish my kids had more relatives to be with now. Their spouses don't know anyone except my dad and brother

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    I was starting to soften my attitude toward my aunt until this thread reminded me that my life is better without her and her kids. I just wish my kids had more relatives to be with now. Their spouses don't know anyone except my dad and brother
    Crankin, I grew up without much of an extended family. Both of my parents came from extremely troubled families and each of their siblings had their own set of problems (as do most of their children), problems that made my parents keep their distance. While I'm sad that I largely missed out on aunts, uncles and cousins, even if I'd had relationships with them, they would have never lived up to some Norman Rockwell type ideal anyway. That horse had long since left the barn. So, in a lot of ways, I'm glad I was spared those possibly toxic relationships. My family of choice is what counts the most, and I've appreciated that (and put my efforts into it) for a long time now. The return on that investment is much more satisfying.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Posts
    55
    I should say (in addition to my previous post) that my 11-year-old son on the other hand had really no inkling my BF was Asian until we told him. Up until then he thought BF just "had a really good tan!" There is hope for this generation after all.
    L

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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    491
    My father is extremely racist; ironic given that one of his brothers is adopted and black. He wants nothing to do with this brother. Even more ironic is that my sister had a child with a black man, so he has a mixed-race granddaughter. He loves this granddaughter more than anything and can see past her skin color; yet, I'm now dating a guy who is of mixed ethnicity, and my father doesn't want to hear anything about him.
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