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Wedding Woes

Sooooo... my future in-laws are a little racist.

I've dated Ben for 4 years and he's an amazing person. I just feel like I have to stick up for him and say that he's a great guy, extremely accepting, and his family frustrates him as much as me. I just want to clarify that he is not like them. And I'm not even going into the issues with his estranged brother. This is all about his parents. And I'm not even going over the horrible things they've said on socioeconomics, physical appearance, disabilities, religion, etc; this issue is all about their casual racism.

They make tons of insensitive comments all the time, but I'm a patient person, and I behave around them for the sake of keeping peace. But a few times I have literally bit my tongue. When my niece was born, I showed a picture to FILs. My niece is half-Caucasian and half-Hispanic. An hour later at dinner FMIL went on a diatribe about having biracial children, saying it was a burden on the child, that having two cultures confuses the child, and that it's "not normal." WHAT? They also use the term "those people" and the phrase "I'm not racist, but..." a lot. I own my own business and they've only been inside it three times. I have an extremely open hiring policy, and they always say they don't like to go because "there's all sorts of different types of people there!" And just today I heard that at my engagement party, one of my black employees gave her a mini cake and when she turned away FMIL said "It's hard to see if her hands are dirty." She was WEARING GLOVES!

I do not tolerate any form of bigotry in my workplace. I'm usually quite the loudmouth when it comes to calling out bigotry. So it's driving me insane that I have to bend my back so far to accomidate that behavior for the sake of avoiding drama, but they've been especially awful since the engagement. That or I've been noticing it more. So frustrated.
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Re: Sooooo... my future in-laws are a little racist.

  • Have fun with the rest of your racist life. You know these people will be trying your kids this.
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  • I don't think you have to "bend over backwards" when their behavior is even a little racist.  I have family with very set views on people and society based on the same factors you listed but they know not to bring up their views when I'm around.  I don't think you have to be rude about it; I started with an honest "we're going to have to agree to disagree" and with some relatives it has grown to me leaving the room when certain topics of conversation come up. 

    I would talk to your FI and come up with a plan of action you both can carry out - whether it's bean-dipping away from certain topics or being honest that you don't share their opinions and can't continue the conversation or even knowing when to leave the room for another drink/bathroom break/need to take this phone call (or even leave to end the get-together).

    And ditto PP; if you are planning on having kids, you'll need a plan to talk to your kids about why whatever grandma/grandpa/Aunt Sue is unacceptable.
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  • My fiance's mom is black and his dad is Jewish. His dad's mom was incredibly racist while she was alive. (She once had my fiance at about age 5 deliver the following message to his mom: "Tell your mother she's a black woman with a black heart!") I would just try to minimize interaction with these people, if that's possible. My fiance turned out okay, and no one else in the family is racist, so that's gotta provide a bit of hope? ;) Sorry you have to deal with it, though; it's sucky. 
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  • Ah, the racist IL's.  Yes, I'm familiar.  The thing that has gotten me through is speaking as objectively as possible--assertive, but not obnoxious.  Whenever they say something that I feel is out of line, I counter it:  not with "You suck" but with "Actually, my uncle is Mexican, and his family has been in the US for longer than the Polish side of my family--he put himself through school and worked his way up to VP in a Fortune 500 company" or "Our neighborhood is pretty integrated, so I wouldn't call it a 'white neighborhood' or a 'black neighborhood,' why?" or "Actually, one of the men who works for me is black, and he doesn't expect anything to be handed to him--he works as hard as the rest of us."

    I feel like if I get all wound up and "OMG, you're RACIST!!!" then it's easy for them to dismiss me.  But when I say "I don't agree with what you just said, and this is why" then they at least have to concede that not ALL black people expect the government to care for them, not all Mexicans are lazy criminals, etc.  They might just being saying that to shut me up, but the end result is that a) we don't have these conversations as frequently, and b) I can't make them NOT say racist things in front of my kid, but I can make it very clear during (and after) that in our family, we don't agree with what Papa said, and here is why. 

    You won't change them, but you can at least try to shut down some of the insanity when you're around.  (Those are for-real examples, BTW.  On his first visit to our house, FIL saw one of our neighbors mowing his lawn and asked if we lived in "a black neighborhood.")
  • Unfortunately I come from a family of nasty bigots and what I've learned to do is just walk away. In the middle of their rants and from entire relationships...just walk away. Nothing you say or do is going to change their attitude and listening to the bs that falls out of their mouths is just going to make you stabby.
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