Post # 1
My FH is from the North and I love him dearly, I am latina…. so meeting the family and staying with them for a couple of weeks was a culture shock to me. I need to know if my feelings are really justifiable about my stay….
I know his family loves me and they are kind people, more than civil to me in my stay… but I don’t know whether some comments I’ve recieved are racist or just plain insensitive. My family is mixed as it is and I even have a beautiful African American sister by adoption. My very first night in the house I was shown a ‘funny’ book my FH’s high school sister made. Their school assignment was to make a book about a social issue and they made one on the KKK…. but she made it pop up book style. Complete with lynching and marker pictures of racism. I was HIGHLY offended and told my guy later. He did apologize for the actions and I only forgot about the incident because 1. she is in high school and i don’t expect a lot of maturity out of a ‘funny’ project and 2. his immediate family has never met my family, so they don’t know culturally how this book would affect me.
This was the first night. Over my next few travels up north with my fiance things got little better. Yes, I encountered some sweet, wonderful people although their very white culture is different from mine. I met a lot of aunts and uncles I am excited to be related to. However.. I was still bugged by the few comments and incidents I received during my stay.
His brother chiding me after I said I’d rather not go to a baseball game due to the heat…. this guy actually told me quite seriously, “don’t all hispanics love baseball?” Mildly miffed at this. FH had no idea since I didn’t bring it up. This guy also made comments against AA people and ‘nappy hair’.
I also encountered extended family who STILL have the Hitler-approved idea that beauty is defined by white features and blonde hair/blue eyes etc. Here I am brown as anything and have these relatives compliment me on my teeth… as if that’s the only thing nice they can say about my FH marrying me! :/
I am blessed to have an incredibly supportive man in my life who loves me and thinks I’m beautiful… but I admit to you all that I don’t FEEL beautiful when I am with his very white family. I feel like I am constantly wishing I fit in better than I do now.
I am afraid to say all this to my fiance, thinking that he adores his family and if I say anything bad about them it may turn his heart from me. But this really is the reason I hate visiting them. Not the family itself…. but the comments and way I’ve felt treated when I am up there.
🙁 I’ve never experienced racism before… I don’t even know if this IS racist…. but I do know it’s making the transition into a new family harder than it has to be.
Post # 3
I would definitely talk to your FI and tell him that you were offended by what was said/done while you were there. I’m sure (I hope) his family wasn’t trying to be racist at all, and it was probably all just a bad attempt at humor. If they aren’t exposed to a lot of people from different cultures, they might be trying to “make jokes” or what not to ease their own uncomfortability…?
Post # 4
Talk to your FI and tell him how you are feeling. Don’t accuse, and make sure to start off with “I feel” so he knows that you are not pointing fingers. I’m sure he will understand, and talking about the issue will help. He might even tell his family to lay off the insensitive comments. I hope things get better. I have very racist future in-laws, and it drives me batty. I wish people could just open their minds and hearts!
Post # 5
@SimplyChic11: if he loves you, then he’ll listen. true loves knows no bounds.
seriously, though, a marriage, and any serious relationship, is built upon several key factors. One is communication. Without an open communication, your marriage isn’t going to be a good one.
So, talk to him, calmly and rationally. Tell him what was said, how it made you feel, and ask about figuring out a solution. That could range from him talking to them about it to you being given permission to correct them any way you see fit. (personally, you’re way ahead of me, ’cause I wouldn’t have been nice, lol.)
I’m sorry you had to deal with that with his family and I hope it all smooths over quickly with few feathers ruffled. 🙂
Post # 6
I’m not sure about the KKK book, or what comments they have made to make you feel like they believe only in blonde hair and blue eyed beauties. But I’m very sorry they’ve made you feel this way.
I will say, I’m white and hispanic and have a very diverse set of friends. Right or wrong in some people’s eyes, we all joke with each other about cultural stereotypes (ie by black BM recently told me I don’t like watermelon bc I’m white etc). It certainly isn’t meant in any way to be racist, although I’m sure some of the comments coming to someone outside of our cirlcles may see it that way.
The joke his brother made is definitely one I could see being said in my group of friends. Does the brother have any hispanic friends? It could be that he does the same as we do with his group of friends and that’s why he felt okay? I doubt he meant it to be taken as badly as it has been. He is a jokster in general and just trying to be funny.
I think the best thing you can do is to talk to FI about it. If you’re really that uncomfortable with it, I’m sure he’ll talk to his brother. Or you could let it slide and next time the brother makes a joke simliar to that, joke on him about something??? Sometimes that friendly ribbing can help bring you closer.
Post # 7
Racism is defined as” profound /global judgement on the bases of race, ethnicity, or skin color, and demonstrated by discriminatory language and behavior.” (social justice article)
I am taking a course on Multiculturalism and this is one of the targeted “ism” if you are offended by what is being said than you should mention it let your voice be heard. I know that it is difficult being the fiancee in the family and what will they say.
Or you can opt to show them your family pictures that way they can see that you have siblings from different ethnicities it is when people become aware that they reflect,pause, and think before they act.
As for the project in high school, you were right it was immature children taking a project that was suppose to be educational and informative to another level.
Talk about your family past it is when you share common ground.
Or you could be the jokester as one the bees mention next time say …
Post # 8
All I could think is that I feel sorry for people raised to think that those kinds of comments are okay. It also makes me so glad that I am part of a family who is not like that. My sister-in-law is latina, I have an Uncle who is Puerto Rican, so cousins who are part that and part white. I have a gay cousin. My brother has Asperger’s Syndrome, and a half-brother who is special needs. My sister has dated AA men in the past. My great-grandmother was Jewish. We have so many different cultures represented in our family and we have never, EVER made them feel any less of a person. I was taught to love everyone and to never judge. I was taught from a young age that even though someone may look different than me, they still had red blood and was just as important. I was encouraged to ask questions and to learn about others. I was taught to be accepting of all human life.
I’m sorry that your FI’s family is not like this. I know how incredibly blessed I am to have been raised in a family like this, and I know it’s a rarity. Just know that your FI must be a very amazing person to be raised in the same atmosphere and to never have had any similar attitudes towards you or other cultures that some of his other family members have. You need to tell FI the comments, that is the only way that any change can happen. Most of the time, people say those things because they don’t understand just how truly hurtful they can be, nor have they ever probably been reprimanded for it. Like Ghandi says, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
Post # 9
Thanks for the support/encouragement/advice. It is much appreciated 🙂
I do agree that they could honestly be joking, but also agree that I do not understand people from this background at all. I pray I DO understand eventually and make some connection with the family that is positive.
SoonToBeeMrsD, what a wonderful outlook your family has! Your mixed family sound a lot like mine and isn’t it wonderful? Personally, I love living in a family where everyone looks different because of different parents etc…. it certainly teaches you how to appreciate people.
Post # 10
I just want to say, you have every right to be angry. I’m sorry your FI’s family is like that. I don’t even understand how a pop-up book showing LYNCHINGS, for god’s sake, could be considered “funny.” That makes me furious. Lynchings happened to actual human beings, not cartoon characters. @#$**&^@#?$!!!!!
Anyway, I think you should talk to your FI about this. Tell him everything, make it clear you’re not blaming him for his family or even rejecting them, but that you need his help in coming to terms with it. It might be very hard for him to hear – people can be extremely defensive when they or people they love are pointed out to have said or done racist things. But if he loves you, he needs to take this seriously.
Post # 11
Update: Did talk to FH about this last night and it went well…. glad I did! I wish things were different with future family but can only hope they do change as time goes on. :/
Post # 12
- Wedding: July 2010 - The Tower Club
I’m so glad your talk went well! To me, the most important thing would be to make sure your fiance is always on your side about this. One of the only things worse than experiencing racism is having those experiences dismissed (“oh well, they didn’t really mean it,” “it’s just a joke,” etc.).
Mightywombat makes a good point. Also, if the issue of racism comes up again with his family, it’s sometimes more effective to tell someone how their actions hurt you personally (ie., it’s really painful that you seem to think my fiance has less value because she’s Latina) than to tell them, in general, why their actions are wrong.
Post # 13
As someone who comes from a very white background (i.e. I’m white and grew up surrounded by white people – we considered the kids with italian ancestors to be “exotic” at my high school), I want to encourage you in two ways. First, you’re right that they don’t mean to be hurtful – their insensitive and racist comments and thoughts are bred out of ignorance, not malice. And it’s great that you can see that, because not everyone in your shoes would be able to.
Second, for a lot of these people, you are going to be their first real experience with diversity. While it’s not necessarily fair, this places a level of responsibility on you – they’re probably (on some level) bewildered by you, because you probably don’t meet their expected stereotypes. But what an opportunity you have – to show them how wonderful diversity is, how wonderful you are, how beauty is more than what they think it is, etc.
I guess I see it from the perspective of … this is their circumstance, not their intentional choice, and you have the chance to help them improve that circumstance and broaden their perspective.
Definitely not an easy place to be, but it sounds like your FI is great and supportive, and hopefully together you can show his family what a joy it truly is to embrace diversity in many forms. 🙂
Post # 14
I agree with some of the previous comments regarding the fact that these people could really just be thinking that they are being funny. However, what may seem “funny” to one group of people may seem “rude” or “derogotary” to others, the latter seeming to be how you have taken it, which is understandable. I personally think that when one gets involved with a community (not just culture but even friendship circles) that you are not use to, it will take time for you to catch up on thier mannerisms and characteristics. It’s like vabride2011 said, in a circle of people who are fimiliar with each other, a joke made will be understood between those people, while an outsider may frown upon it. My FH and I are dating for 8 years and up until recently, there were STILL things about the way he handles certain things and different ways of thinking to mine that I discovered because we are from such extreme different races. There are also a lot of things that my family regards as extremely important that his family simply does not. But I can not hold it against them because that is just how they are. But what is important is that my FI has learnt how we “operate” and has adapted and knows how to interpret the way we speak and think because of all the years that he has spent amongst us. Unfortunately I haven’t had that opportunity with his family because they are overseas. Perhaps in a few years time one of them will pass a remark and you be able to handle it better than now, simply because you know that person better and what you should or should not take seriously.
Perhaps his high school sister was proud of her little creation and wanted to show you whilst also thinking it might make you laugh. If I understand correctly, the assignment was to make a book about social “issues”. To my understanding, an issue is also interpreted as a “debatable concern” and I would certainly deem the KKK as a HUGE problem that needs to be confronted. Although the book had pop-up’s etc, what message was she trying to bring across with it? That she was supporting the movement, or that she was bringing awareness in a “humourous” manner that could attract younger people.
Knowing that your FH comes from a background different to yours, you obviously expected to be different and you will therefore feel it in everything they do or say. Which is why it would also be more respectable for them to be careful in the way they speak to you. But at the same time, you want them to feel easy around you and not as though they walking on ice.
Post # 15
I think I should include a little more detail in relation to our talk yesterday. It’s clear to us both that this is an issue, not just humor but certainly humor related. :/ His family loves offensive humor…. and I come from a family that can be very funny, but never ever jokes about things people can’t change. He said a lot of it comes from his father, who although IS racist to a degree…. is tactful and doesn’t say these things in front of me… while siblings are tactless and simply talk how they’ve been raised. I am very thankful FH takes after his mother’s side of the family. I adore my FMIL and her side of the family as, although very English and white culturally, they were loving and accepting of me when I met them.
FH’s father looks down on other ethnicities and cultures mostly because he is very European and very religious, our guess is that he simply perceives most other cultures BUT white to be less than ideal or even sinful compared to how he was raised.
I’m sorry but as much as I adore FH, I’m not sure I can live with the knowledge that I am merely an ‘exception’ to the rule that most other ethnicities as a whole are not as good as being white. :/ It frustrates me and him and I certainly hope we can be the change we hope to see in this family.
I am planning a destination wedding after I graduate university in the spring, one which will take place out of the country with my hispanic extended family. I keep trying to focus on the fact that I will receive a lot of love from FH and his mom and my immediate family, instead of the heartbreak I feel about not wanting these people or ideals to affect my tropical wedding. I have to admit I am nervous about announcing my wedding plans to his family.
Thanks for the encouragement.
Post # 16
It’s really sad that in this day and age, you still find racist people who think the white race is superior to others. Its so beautiful when two people from completely different races/cultures look beyond race and cultural differences and fall inlove. But then it is dampened by the ugly stares and comments of people who are narrow-minded and racist. I tend to adopt the “don’t care about them” attitude. They must live with the misery of seeing “their” people living open and humble lives. But in your case, it’s you FH’s family so obviously it won’t be that easy to just simply ignore it.
I recommend that you focus on the positive energy you receive from his mother’s side of the family. I would also be very proud of your FH given that even though he has grown up around racist people, he is not like that and even went against them by being with someone from another race. That truly reflects a great character and strong personality. He didn’t care what they would have to say about it. It’s rare that parents negative characteristics do not rub off on their children.
Regarding his father’s side, if it gets really bad, I would recommend you or FH confront them about it.