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When a family member is a racist.


Ohdanigirl
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Aaaaaaugh! :cursing: I really just needed to let out a virtual scream. I have a close family member who is always making racist comments about Mexicans. :banghead::banghead::banghead: Hello, I am half Mexican.

 

I am usually not a person who plays the race card, or sees racism in many things, but it has gotten really annoying. I have started limiting my time with this person, but it is someone my children love dearly. I have tried addressing it, but we just had a blow-up over it, and I am so frustrated. I tried to say something like, "those type of comments are not necessary." They got agitated and responded, "well it is true." I then said, "I think we should hang-up to avoid a fight." They hung up on me.

 

I just don't know what to do. I love this person very much, but don't want to continue subjecting myself, and possibly my dc to their comments. I am in tears, and just wish I had someone here to understand and give me a hug.

 

I am so sorry to throw something so personal out there. I usually avoid personal subjects on the board, but I just needed to vent.

 

Thanks.

 

Danielle

 

ETA: I meant to put this on the Gen board. Sorry.

Edited by USDGAL
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Here's a giant hug :grouphug:

 

I'm also half Mexican. Sometimes I cannot believe the junk that comes out of my (white) families mouths. It's as if they have no idea how rude, offensive, hurtful, and embarrassing their words are.

 

I don't see it ever changing either.

 

Having said that, my first racist experience was my Mexican grandma going off on the "pin*he so and so's"... :blink:

 

It's hard to balance genuine love and genuine disappointment for family members.

:grouphug:

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It does suck. Will this person read an email or a letter from you? You might be better off calmly presenting your position in that kind of communication. I wouldn't let the kids be around them if they're spewing garbage in front of them. My mom will occasionally make mildly racist comments to me but never in front of my kids (who are half Latino). That would be a firmly drawn line for me :(

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:grouphug: I'm really sorry. I wish I could offer advice, but all I can offer is my sympathy. You can't make people think differently, but they really should have more tact and respect than that, at the very least. I hope you can work it out happily, but if not, I don't think you should feel guilty in the slightest if you choose to limit exposure of your dc to that sort of talk. Sometimes the bad outweighs the good. Only you know for sure.

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Well, that is just plain rude. I am in an interracial marriage. I am 100% spanish (born and raised in the usa) and my husband is caucasian( he can trace his family line all the way back to the mayflower). It is unfortunate, but we have dealt with the same issue when we first married. I love them dearly, but I didn't tolerate it for the sake of my sanity and children. What I have learned over the years is that they find it to be humorous and really didn't think they hurting my feelings. Family can make things complicated

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I'm really sorry that you have to deal with those remarks. If you choose not to limit your family's time with this person, maybe you could just talk with your dc about those type of comments. I've had those discussions with my own children when they were young and when they heard those remarks, they would say something. Sometimes when it's "out of the mouths of babes," it causes a little more reflection.

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One question I would have is how old is this person? It can be much harder for an older person to change long habits of speech or perceptions. Also, if your children are close to this person, am I correct in assuming that aside from this character flaw this person is basically a good person? If this person is a beloved grandparent, for example, I would probably try to ignore it and just talk to your children privately about it.

 

If this person is not someone who is basically a good person then I would be more likely to address it and/or start putting some distance in the relationship. In other words, is this person unkind in other ways? Dishonest? Manipulative? Inconsiderate? If so, and the racism is happening in a context of a host of other character struggles, then distance in the relationship is probably best for everyone.

 

If the person is more of a peer of yours (not an older person) who is also an all-around decent person, I would probably address this more aggressively. In that case, calm and repetitive is the way to go. Each and every time a stupid comment is made, respond with something calm, short, and to-the-point, like, "That's untrue and unkind." or "Don't speak about people like that."

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I'm really sorry that you have to deal with those remarks. If you choose not to limit your family's time with this person, maybe you could just talk with your dc about those type of comments. I've had those discussions with my own children when they were young and when they heard those remarks, they would say something. Sometimes when it's "out of the mouths of babes," it causes a little more reflection.

 

Totally off-topic, but I love your screen name. :)

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Thanks everyone for your responses, understanding, and advice.

 

I just spoke to my brother in the US, who was very helpful. He was able to understand my frustration in a way others in our family could not. Unfortunately, as someone mentioned, you often deal with this stuff within family when you are biracial, or in a biracial relationship. I mean, we all deal with racism or discrimination in some way or form sometime in our lives, but being biracial and getting it from your own family just sucks even more.

 

It is difficult enough trying to straddle both cultures, without others tearing one apart.

 

I have yet to decide what I will do, but I will definitely speak to my dc about these kinds of comments.

 

Thanks.

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:grouphug: I so hear you. Our three eldest are AA and I had to close the door on my grandfather because he was so prejudiced. He used the n-word all the time. When he used that word to describe our eldest daughter (who was 9 months old at the time) we said that we would not speak to him or see him until he realized how divisive and ugly his behavior was and truly apologized for it. It never happened. He died a year ago and I didn't even go to his funeral.

 

There is enough poison in the world. I didn't want my children to hear it or have to face it from someone who should have known better.

 

It may be time for you to reevaluate your relationship and walk away. It sounds very painful for you to have to deal with. Tell your dc that you have a need to be treated with respect and until this person is capable of showing you respect, you aren't going to see or speak to him/her.

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Is there a way to get the word back to him in a non-confrontational way that this is endangering your having a relationship at all, especially with the kids?

 

I did this once. DH has a relative who uses the n word. When DD was a baby, I heard him do this once when she was in the house, and I told DH that I would not bring her back or stay there if she would learn that there, because it's just not right and also it is downright dangerous to talk like that (I hated making that second argument as it totally misses the point, but I was laying it on as thickly as possible to be effective.) He passed the word to someone else, and that person had the discussion with the offender and it never happened again. That was 15 years ago. I never really thought that this would work, and am very thankful that it did.

 

It was helpful that I genuinely love and have a relationship with these people, and so they did not in any way suspect that I was looking for trouble.

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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

 

I absolutely adore my BIL, but at one family event he started making Mexican jokes. :tongue_smilie: I told him to cut it out, that older DD is 1/2 Mexican and *she was in the room*. But, even if none of our family had any Mexican heritage, I won't tolerate that attitude being modeled in front of them.

 

It's happened a few times, but he always stops when I tell him to. Still, it hurts to think that that kind of crap lurks in his heart.

 

He's not a racist about "heritage" Mexicans (IOW, "my grandmother is from Mexico, but I look/speak/act like a typical 'white' American" type of thing) but the negative cultural expressions we see a lot of in this area. Regardless, he needed to just *shut.up.* and deal with his issues on his own time.

Edited by shinyhappypeople
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:grouphug::grouphug::grouphug:

Certain of DH's relatives make the most appalling racist comments. :glare: When I've spoken up about it, they have the nerve to tell me that "there are black people and there are n-----s. You grew up among black people and have never been around n-----s." :banghead: So not only are they racist but they're snobs as well. One reason why I very glad we live on the opposite coast from these folks.

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:grouphug: I so hear you. Our three eldest are AA and I had to close the door on my grandfather because he was so prejudiced. He used the n-word all the time. When he used that word to describe our eldest daughter (who was 9 months old at the time) we said that we would not speak to him or see him until he realized how divisive and ugly his behavior was and truly apologized for it. It never happened. He died a year ago and I didn't even go to his funeral.

 

There is enough poison in the world. I didn't want my children to hear it or have to face it from someone who should have known better.

 

It may be time for you to reevaluate your relationship and walk away. It sounds very painful for you to have to deal with. Tell your dc that you have a need to be treated with respect and until this person is capable of showing you respect, you aren't going to see or speak to him/her.

I'm sorry you had to go through this. I would have done the same thing. We had a discussion with family members prior to adopting our two youngest children (AA), and made it clear that if they wanted to continue in a relationship they would need to change their ways. They changed, and have become loving grandparents.

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I just really want to tell you how very sorry I am. I cannot imagine.

 

The only thing I have to share is what a friend once did. When she got the 'but it's true!" line she asked if it was true about her children and true about her, because they are part Latino. It did make a small difference over the long term.

 

And remember, you have the trump card. You have the kids. If it gets that bad you can always take the kids home or reduce visits. You can also limit your discussions to things about the kids. Don't allow yourself to engage in conversations that will lead down bad paths. You could also just not respond. You could be quiet and not answer or say "I don't know what to say to a comment like that." and just leave it there.

 

Only you can know what is right for you and your family.

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That has to be so upsetting- I would be livid. I'm sorry you are having to deal with that. I can't believe some of the stories I hear on here- like the grandfather above with the 9 yo. That's absolutely terrible.

 

I can't give advice...I'd be going no-contact as I can't stand someone treating people like that (especially when called on it and they continue or get angry?! Hah!). I don't know the relationship and I know everyone's different, so I won't presume to tell you the same, but just know there's a lot of people who think you'd have every right to cut off such a damaging, disrespectful relationship. If not, I hope you find a way to draw a new line in the sand and a way to deal if they cross it.

 

Hugs to you- again, I'm so very sorry there are such jerks in the world. :glare: :grouphug::grouphug:

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Wow, I'd tell the person to get bent.

 

I'd also tell him/her, "I can't believe you have the gall to make racist comments, in front of me, about my ethnicity. If you continue to do so, you won't be seeing us."

 

Then I'd follow through. Imo, it's not wise to teach your children that you will put up with this type of behavior, for any reason whatsoever.

 

My FIL was racist and came forth with some real doozies both before and after we adopted our kids. We made plain to him that those types of comments were a one-way ticket to never. seeing. us. again. At one point, we actually packed up our stuff and our children (the in-laws live 4 hours away) and were on the verge of walking out the door before FIL apparently saw the error of his ways. He never made comments in our hearing again.

 

No matter how much your children love this person or what his or her redeeming qualities may be, imo the worst thing you could do is model for your kids putting up with racial hatred and excusing it for any reason.

 

Now, my dh's grandmother is nearly 90. She still uses the word "colored." She will probably never change. The difference is that she uses the word the way we use black or African American. Were she to use the n-word or speak hatefully, I wouldn't care how old or sweet she was. We'd not be around her.

 

Tara

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I think you can use that family member as a learning lesson for your child. There are so many people in this world like that and you can show your children how that type of thinking is wrong and hurtful. Sadly we can't change anyones minds when it comes to narrow mindedness. I have a close family member who is similar. So many people were raised in racist homes and sadly a racist viewpoint seems ingrained in them. They know I disagree and abhor their viewpoint, but I still love them.

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Aaaaaaugh! :cursing: I really just needed to let out a virtual scream. I have a close family member who is always making racist comments about Mexicans. :banghead::banghead::banghead: Hello, I am half Mexican.

 

I am usually not a person who plays the race card, or sees racism in many things, but it has gotten really annoying. I have started limiting my time with this person, but it is someone my children love dearly. I have tried addressing it, but we just had a blow-up over it, and I am so frustrated. I tried to say something like, "those type of comments are not necessary." They got agitated and responded, "well it is true." I then said, "I think we should hang-up to avoid a fight." They hung up on me.

 

I just don't know what to do. I love this person very much, but don't want to continue subjecting myself, and possibly my dc to their comments. I am in tears, and just wish I had someone here to understand and give me a hug.

 

I am so sorry to throw something so personal out there. I usually avoid personal subjects on the board, but I just needed to vent.

 

Thanks.

 

Danielle

 

ETA: I meant to put this on the Gen board. Sorry.

 

I don't really have an answer but :grouphug:. One reason (amongst several, but certainly a significant one) I left Waldorf schooling was encountering such situations, but it is easier to leave a school and hs than to deal with it in a family. Is a Miss Manners' stunned shocked silence a possibility?

 

Are your children biological such that the comment that affects your race also applies to them? Whether yes or no, it seems like this is an important issue for them to learn how to deal with, no matter how much they love the family member involved. Possibly the effect (or potential effect) of the comments on the children, if there is love there in both directions, would be a way to try to find a route to turn things around. You didn't say what the comment was, is this something that as racism also tends to be emotionally abusive? (Some comments may show prejudice and racism, but not be particularly emotionally destructive, others may be both.)

 

Good luck.

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I have a similar issue. My husband's grandfather and some of his cousins are racist. There haven't been any incidents in front of the kids so far thankfully but it makes me so mad. My family does mission work in Africa and my parents are actually living there now. DH and I have been praying about serving there some time in the future and DH's grandfather pretty much mocked us for that. One time we went to visit and they were telling racist jokes and DH's 14 year old cousin was getting in on them, even telling ones calling Obama foul names. Everyone was laughing like it was OK. Ugh. Joke about the president all you want but leave his race out of it! It hasn't happened in a while though, I'm thinking MIL must have given her dad a talking to!

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I am also in an interaccial marriage. My husband is Thompson Indian, Mexican and Scottish. While it makes for interesting family tree talks, some people let loose slurs without even realizing it! Some things people have heard or said for so long they don't even realize what they're actually saying by using the words.

 

I hope this gets sorted out really quickly for you!

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Wow...that is really terrible. :grouphug:

 

 

My husband's family will pull out some extremely racist language every once in awhile (including the n-word). I am trying to find a way to deal with that because my kids are old enough to understand that type of thing. My kids don't see race at this point. I would love to keep it that way for as long as possible. Some people are just so ridiculous. I completely understand the problem though because your kids love this person. Maybe if you explain that your kids are also part Mexican...

 

Again, I am so sorry. :grouphug:

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