January 5, 2021

Let’s face it: as kids we don’t get to choose who’s on the guess list for the holidays. Even though we would love to exclude racist Aunt Karen and Uncle Chad…


Speaking of that, according to Pew Research Center, “About six-in-ten Americans (58 [percent]) say race relations in the U.S. are bad, and of those, few see them improving.”


This statistic was taken in 2019, now two years ago! Of course, with the Black Lives Matter movement becoming more popular, we have seen some change, but some ignorant mentalities sadly have stayed the same.


Especially since, race is becoming more of an open conversation. So, I am here to coach you through what to do or say when the racist relative is on their way.


Cindy McMann, writer for The Mindful Word wrote, “Make the relative telling the [racist] joke walk you through why it’s funny. Nothing kills a joke like having to explain it step by step. As a bonus, they’ll also be walking you through why they’re an idiot. That could be very funny.”


I personally have never tried this approach, but in any situation when someone has to retell or uncover why the comment was amusing in the first place it heightens that what was said did not create the comedic relief (just a thought).


Another approach could be, (if this person is reasonable) pull them aside later and, say, ‘Hey, it hurts me and makes me feel uncomfortable when you say x,y, and z.’ So, with this vulnerable statement, you focus on your feelings and not accusing that person in the moment. Instead of going with your gut and, saying, ‘You’re a racist bigot!’ as tempting as that is to call them names, even when it is true, most people are willing to hear you out if you don’t start the sentence of with ‘You did this, and you did that and you are this etc.’


Or, if you would like to keep your conversation short, “I find your comments hurtful. Please don’t make these remarks in front of me again.”  Nadra Kareem Nittle said this on the website Thought Co.


But, if you think this person may be open to change, you could say, ‘Actually have you thought of this perspective? It’s quite enlightening I have found.’ and then explain. This way you keep your dignity by not exploding.


If you choose to use these strategies, I’m hoping you won’t have to shake your head when the racist uncle comes to Christmas or another family tradition.


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About the Writer
Jade Davis is a current senior writing and publishing major who works as the Senior editor-videographer-podcast creator-photojournalist position for the SIREN newspaper.

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