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Wedding Woes

In good fun, my ass.

Dear Prudence, 
I am an ethnically Chinese man who is married to a white woman. Her family has been very welcoming toward me, but, on occasion, they still say racially inappropriate things to me. They make “Chinese fire drill” jokes, suggest I write birthday cards in Chinese, and ask my wife if she’s comfortable being driven around by an Asian. I tend to join them in the assumption that “this is being said in good fun,” since I don’t genuinely believe they dislike me or my ethnicity. However, this behavior does annoy me, and I don’t feel like my Chinese heritage should be reduced to a party trick for their amusement. Quite frankly I don’t see these jokes ending anytime soon. My question is: Is this the sort of thing that warrants a family meeting where I air my grievances, or is this something I just need to come to terms with?

—Interracially Incensed

Re: In good fun, my ass.

  • Jokes are all in good fun until someone is offended. LW should talk to his wife and let her know that he feels uncomfortable and then she needs to shut this down with her family. 

    Kind of off topic but related, for my book club I just read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. It was pretty good and struck a good conversation about racism towards mixed families. The father in book is Asian American and the mother is White. It also talks about pressures put on women being a stay at home mom versus career. I'll put out a warning that it is a sad book but worth a read.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • Not cool.    Wife needs to speak up and say that it's unacceptable.   
  • Agreed that the wife needs to speak up, but she may not even realize the jokes bother him if that's what she grew up with.

    My husband is 1/4 Chinese. He was over my parents' house one day for a holiday, my whole family was there and my little cousin started talking gibberish-like. My grandmother asked him- are you speaking Chinese? This bothered my husband (then my boyfriend) and he left the room. I followed him and asked him what was wrong- he told me that what my grandmother said bothered him, and explained it to me. To me, I wouldn't think about stuff like that bothering him because it's what I grew up with, but once I knew I went back to my family and told them that what they said bothered him and if they could please not say stuff like that. And guess what- it stopped. We never had a problem again and this was years ago when DH and I were still in college and dating.

    This man needs to speak to his wife and she needs to tell her family to stop.
  • Joking or not, people need to learn when enough is enough. Wife needs to step in and say something.
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