It’s that time of year again! The holidays mean no school, quality time with friends, and stuffing your face with great food. However, for some people, it may also mean visits from your racist uncle or small talk with the religious fanatics of the family. Even in the season of cheer, dealing with relatives who aren’t politically likeminded can be challenging. That’s why Revolution Now has compiled these helpful tips so you can speak your mind without setting grandpa off on a tangent about the “good ol’ days.”
The Scene: Uncle Ricky is on his fifth apple pie martini and relaxing on the couch. A holiday commercial featuring a gay couple shows up on the TV screen. “Why do they always have to make everybody gay these days,” he grumbles as you hand him his peach crumble.
If your goal is to diffuse the situation, a passive and calm response is key. To avoid a real conflict, saying something lightly will smoothly justify the usage of LGBT+ characters in a show or commercial without sparking retaliation.
- “Everybody else on that show is straight.”
- “Some of my friends are gay, and it’s nice for them to see themselves represented.”
- “That actor is gay, so maybe it’s just to seem more realistic.” (only if the actor is actually gay)
Now, the bolder approach here is to challenge his beliefs. While keeping in mind that an argument may ensue, these remarks could open the door to an honest conversation:
- “Why not?”
- “How come this bothers you?”
- “What harm does it do to represent the LGBT community on television?”
The Scene: Grandpa just committed the ultimate party foul - using a racial slur over dessert. You’re not sure if anyone else heard, or if he knows it's a slur, but he said it nonetheless. In this situation, it is best to educate your grandfather in a kind manner.
- "Grandpa, you shouldn’t talk about people of color that way.”
- “Nowadays, it’s considered impolite to use that word.”
- “Be careful about saying that, grandpa. Some people may get very offended.”
The Scene: Grandma has just walked through the door, ready to pinch your cheeks and give you a kiss. She comments about how tall you are, and how you’ve become “such a beautiful young woman!” Soon, she cannot refrain any longer from asking the question: “do you have a boyfriend yet?” You laugh and say no, but later at dinner, she keeps prying - “maybe you would find a boyfriend if you wore more makeup,” or “boys these days don’t like girls who are so opinionated.” Your discomfort grows as she continues to try forcing you into these stereotypes.
You know she means well, but her backwards thinking is seriously hindering your ability to enjoy the night. Perhaps you’re even struggling with your gender identity or sexuality, and these comments are only rubbing salt in the wound. But there are ways to get yourself out of the hot seat. So if granny’s giving you the third degree, use these playful phrases to end the interrogation.
- “I don’t know why I don’t have a boyfriend either!”
- “The boys at my school aren’t good enough for me!”
- “Let’s just enjoy the holidays and I’ll fill you in on my boy woes later.”
If you don’t want to take the playful approach, these comebacks will also get the job done:
- “Thank you for the advice. I’ll keep that in mind.”
- “I want to focus on my schoolwork.”
- “I don’t want a boyfriend right now.”
- “I like the way that I look without makeup.”
If you really have the time and the right relationship, it could be helpful to confront her and tell her why this makes you uncomfortable. Saying something small will probably avoid more questions this year, but unless you really talk to her about how questions about a boyfriend make you feel badly, she won’t stop in the future.
The Scene: While sitting by the fireplace, the conversation takes a deadly turn to political matters. Your older cousin brings up immigration, calling immigrants “job stealers” and “terrorists.” Here are some statistics so you can combat his statements with facts:
- “Studies have shown that immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than native-born people.”
- “The chances of an American being killed by an undocumented immigrant terrorist is 1 in 10.9 billion per year.”
- “In the US, there hasn't been a single American killed on U.S.A. soil by a terrorist from one of the seven countries included in the President's travel ban that has been stayed by courts.”
If your cousin still refuses to acknowledge these facts (which you know he will), you can pull up the receipts right here:
- Immigrants are Less Likely to Commit Crimes STUDY
- Odds of American Being Killed by Illegal Immigrant 1 in 10.9 Billion Per Year CATO ANALYSIS
- No American Killed by Terrorist From 7 Travel Ban Countries CATO ANALYSIS
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong way to respond to bigotry from a loved one. Above are just some suggestions that may help you find your voice in these tedious situations. While it’s tempting to keep to yourself and not stir the pot, keep in mind that some of your family may be suffering in silence. One of your relatives may be hiding their sexuality or secretly dating someone of a different race, and these hateful comments could be affecting them. Showing them that they have an ally in the family could drastically improve what might otherwise be a stressful time for them, and you just might educate your loved ones in the process.
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