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HomeHow Do I Deal With a Racist Family?

Before we talk about how do I deal with a racist family, let us first find out what racism does to the victim. Racism lowers self esteem, makes you feel useless and scared. It not only hurts the individual, but also the fabric that holds our society together. It is both stupid and pathetic to say we believe in freedom and still discriminate people based on their skin color or otherwise.

The good thing is that some of us are more sober than others. We view all human beings as equal. That is why it bothers us when a family member opens their beautiful-God-given mouth and spew venomous words which are laced with racism. We wonder how to make them understand that it is just not okay to hurt other people’s feelings in this way. The following are ways of answering the question, how do I deal with a racist family?

Target their conscience:

This is not about you winning the war and losing the battle. It’s not about you arguing with them until they keep quiet. Yes, they will keep quiet, but they will remain resentful, angry, and defensive – worst of all, they won’t change. When dealing with family members who are racists, address their conscience. Bring to the fore their good attributes and tell them what they just said does not match your view of them.

Separate the behavior from the person.

You don’t say “you are a racist” to your family member and expect a decent conversation. Calling them racists will lead to defensiveness, anger or aggression. Be tactful and accommodating as you talk to them.

Choose your battles wisely.

Scan the environment before dealing with racism. For instance, is the person in a good mood? If the coast is clear, proceed cautiously, diplomatically and respectfully. Avoid yells, insults or condescending tones. Actually, if there is no way the conversation can be held in a calm environment, it would be better to avoid it. Stay calm even when the other person hits the roof. If you stay down, they will see the folly of staying up there.

Keep your righteousness to yourself.

I need to remind you that your relative may not see anything wrong with what they are doing. You will be doing a disservice to yourself if you appear to show them how socially cognizant you are. None of us enjoys people rubbing their righteousness to our face – especially if we are wrong – it makes us feel guilty.

Avoid the “I do the talking you do the listening” approach.

Be willing to give them a hearing. Allow them to express their ideas and listen intently – and for goodness sake – remove that smirk off your face. Remember, communication is both verbal and non-verbal and they will most definitely notice any negative body language.

Be the role model.

The most effective way to deal with racism is to be a non-racist yourself. Be careful what you say about people of different cultures or backgrounds. Don’t preach water and drink wine.

Get into their frame of reference.

Try to get into their mindset and challenge their thought processes respectfully. Find out why they think the way they do. What is to blame? Background? Media?

I agree – dealing with racism among family members is not a walk in the park. However, someone has to do it. This is my final advice though – bring cheese and chocolate on the table – keep the knives away. There. you now have the answer to, how do I deal with a racist family?


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