*SPINOFF* How do you maintain relationships with racist friends/family members?

posted 2 years ago in The Lounge
  • poll: Have you ever ended a relationship because the other person held racist sentiments?



  • Post # 46
    696 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2018

    Like so many have said here, it’s shades of grey. My mum will sometimes make comments I see as “positive” racism, like describing women from Southern Europe as “glutäugig” (“coal-eyed”) or “rassig” (“hot-blooded”). She thinks she’s being nice and paying compliments. I do tell her these are low-level racist comments but I wouldn’t cut contact because of them. My uncle is a whole different kettle of fish. He is extremely offensive about refugees, about POC, Muslims, LGBTQI+ and people with mental illnesses. Every single time I see him, he says something completely unacceptable (last time he commented that kids who are troublemakers and/or have mental illnesses should be sent to “camps”. We’re German. When he says “camp” it doesn’t mean camping and living rough for a bit to get them on the right track.). I can’t refuse to see him at family functions but you BET I fight him on those comments but I did not invite him or his wife to my wedding. I do not have POC in my friend circle (there aren’t a lot of POC in rural Bavaria) but there are LGBTQI+ friends and friends who fight their mental illnesses every day. I would not have wanted any of them to be belittled and made to feel unwelcome when it’s him who is unwelcome.

    Post # 47
    9320 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper

    View original reply
    happiekrappie :  I cut off contact with a cousin after the 2016 election. She said some really awful things that I was disgusted by in general, and then started making personal attacks against me which were annoying but probably forgivable with time. But once she starting using anti-semetic rhetoric there was no turning back for me. I was pregnant at the time and my husband is Jewish. She has not met my child and probably never will. It’s funny because growing up Jewish my husband gets mad at anti-semitic bullshit but also has a somewhat “eh…it’s life” attitude sometimes. I didn’t grow up with it and I just never realized how awful it is. I’ve become a very fierce mama bear when it comes to anti-semitism. We’ve had some swastika graffiti in our schools lately and I RAGE against the parents who say “oh it’s just kids testing boundaries”. That shit doesn’t fly with me. 

    Post # 48
    4811 posts
    Honey bee
    • Wedding: September 2012

    I am lucky not to have any close family who are racists. I haven’t noticed any racism among my (very diverse) friend group, but I would not hesitate to call it out (and if it persisted, cut the person out of my life). 

    DH likes to tell jokes – usually dumb ones – and after a handful that contained ethnic “humor” (e.g., making fun of a particular accent, tradition, or group), I made it clear that I do NOT find those funny and they are not acceptable in our home. While his family is generally very open-minded and welcoming to all, I know he and his dad exchange jokes, so in the course of conversation, I’ve brought up that I think such jokes are inappropriate to forestall any similar jokes. DH doesn’t tell them around me anymore and from what I can tell, I think he at least thinks twice before telling them to anyone else.

    DH has never shown any signs of judging people by their race or ethinicity, nor of treating people differently based on those characteristics, so in that case, I’m willing to simply curb the inappropriate jokes, especially since he was receptive to my point.  But if anyone were to judge/treat someone differently (or spout racist comments in my presence without stopping when called out), that would be the end of any relationship with me.

    Post # 49
    628 posts
    Busy bee

    The only exception for me is elderly people who don’t know better. Apart from that, I have no interest maintaining relationships with racists.

    Post # 50
    852 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: September 2016

    My husband’s parents are die-hard republicans. They watch Fox News every night. However, I am not going to cut off all ties with them over this. My solution is not to talk about politics with them. Ever. Fox News is turned off if I am at their house. As long as they are not expressing their views in front of me, I am able to maintain a healthy relationship with them. (out of sight, out of mind) 

    I also believe that political beliefs are often a function of where and how you were raised. My husband grew up in the Midwest in a red state. I grew up on the East Coast in a blue state. I would like to think that I’m just naturally more tolerant, but I know my viewpoints were largely shaped by where I grew up. 

    Post # 53
    2701 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: September 2012

    I definitely call out racism/bigotry/sexism/etc. when I see it. But it depends on the person and relationship I currently have with them as to whether or not I kill that relationship. If I think I can change that person’s mind, I’ll maintain the relationship. If I don’t think they will change, I end that relationship. If it’s someone like family or long time friends whom I have a long and good history with, I will try harder to change their mind. If it’s an acquaintance or new friend, then I’ll be quicker to cut that person out.

    And, while I agree it’s extremely important to understand the more academic definition of racism (i.e. it’s only racist if there’s a power component) it’s also important to understand how the majority of people define racism (no power component necessary). It’s good to educate people on the difference but don’t be a dick about it. You (general) will end up pushing people away and your point will be lost. 

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