How You Can Handle the Problematic Aunties and Uncles This Holiday Season

The holidays are officially in full swing, and with the extra time off and reasons to gather in community, you know it’s about to go down. As much as we love family time, bringing everyone to the table inevitably brings out everyone’s -isms. Racist aunties, sexist grandpas, and cousins who do the same – and inevitably try to laugh it off or tell you that these are “facts.” This becomes even harder when you’re returning home from college or elsewhere. It can quickly take the joy out of breaks and replace it anxiety, or require you to intentionally hide parts of your own identity or beliefs to your family.  

Here is some general advice from MuslimGirl that will help you avoid, disengage or confront holiday visitors that espouse racist, homophobic, sexist banter because, quite frankly, we can’t take it anymore. The stakes are just too high.

1. Ask the Right Questions:

There are times where letting people continue to speak leads to a level of transparency that brings a level of exposure that they’re even uncomfortable with. To borrow from the American Friends Service Committee guide to combatting Islamophobic comments at the Thanksgiving table, sometimes asking the right questions makes a big impact. “Can you explain why you think that?” can slow the conversation down, and exposes the offense and ridiculousness of the comment at hand.

Would you like a large glass of eggnog to wash down that ego?

2. Throwing down? Be Smart and Strategic:

The stakes are too high to let harmful stereotypes fly. While you may have ignored or feigned a chuckle (problematic) in Obama’s “post-racial” America (LOL), this level of complacency might not be your thing at #Thanksgiving2017. Don’t be afraid to come to dinner armed with some vital facts, but if the dinner table isn’t best place for WWIII to go down (it’s not), plan on engaging at a later and less time-sensitive time. Be sure to take down their e-mail address before they go home, or make sure you’re connected on social media, and spend the next year spamming them with research and scholarship from QTPOC academics, artists and public intellectuals.

You look like you haven’t found time to hit the gym this year, so why don’t I serve you some facts instead of pumpkin pie?

3. The More the Merrier:

Make sure you have an ally in the room or bring one with you. Rely on a sibling or cousin with similar values, and make time to connect about the frustrations you’re experiencing about the comments (no matter how big or small) that have been made. If you feel isolated at home, be sure to bring a friend or roommate home for the holidays. Worst case scenario, have a group chat ready for your entire clique to connect on about the holiday craziness.

You spilled some cranberry sauce on your shirt. Oh wait, that’s just your ignorance.

4. Be Honest and Disengage:

“Grandpa, I’m so grateful that I’m able to spend time with you while I’m home from college. I don’t think the conversation we’re having is a good one, so I’m going to change the subject.”

“Auntie, it’s so nice to see you tonight. I don’t agree with what you’re saying, they are not appropriate, and I am uncomfortable with the comments. Please stop.” 

5. Redirect:

“This isn’t a conversation I’m going to have with you. Would you like to have another cup of tea?”

“That’s not okay, can we not talk about this. Did you see how cute that baby is?”