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View Full Version : Hey, cousin, I swear I'm not a racist.



kct webber
08-14-2008, 02:53 PM
My cousin coming to town has, once again, brought up an issue that I'm concerned about. He, like me, is a white guy. He is dating a black woman. He has been dating her for years and they are, as far as they are concerned, married.

Now, half of my family (mother's side; cousin's side) is from the south it is obvious that many of them, especially the older ones, are quite against interracial relationships. Let me be clear here and say that I'm not implying that all southerners or even all "older" southerners are racists. I'm just talking about certain members of my family here.

The problem is--beyond the racism--is that this woman will not come around. When they come to visit, she stays at the hotel. I don't really blame her. But I've never met her. She's basically my cousin's wife, and I've never laid eyes on the woman.

I've tried inviting them to my house, or offered to take them out to dinner, away from the 'offenders' but there is always some excuse. She doesn't feel well, she's tired, blah blah blah. Everyone--including cousin and wife--knows exactly what this is, but no one wants to address it. I've confronted my cousin about it directly, but I'm certain much of this choice is hers. I am, of course, unable to speak to her. And the excuses continue. Frankly, I'm a bit ashamed of the whole situation.

This woman is, as far as I'm concerned, family and so I want to meet her and get to know her. How would you tackle this?

KTC
08-14-2008, 02:56 PM
Be straight. Say you want to meet her...that you've been dying to meet her and welcome her to your family because your cousin is important to you and his wife should be too. Just be straight. Tell him you can do it outside the limelight of the family, but that you have to do it because she is part of him and he is part of you so you really want to meet her.

Phoebe H
08-14-2008, 02:59 PM
Do you send birthday cards or Christmas presents specifically to her? Any sorts of rituals like that that tell her that you consider her family?

Do you ever talk to her on the phone or send her emails? Starting with non-face-to-face communication might be easier.

Or you could just flat out tell your cousin how you feel and see what he says.

kct webber
08-14-2008, 03:07 PM
Be straight. Say you want to meet her...that you've been dying to meet her and welcome her to your family because your cousin is important to you and his wife should be too. Just be straight. Tell him you can do it outside the limelight of the family, but that you have to do it because she is part of him and he is part of you so you really want to meet her.

I've told him in quite a forward way how I feel about it. It was a great deal like what you just said. But I've yet to get past the excuses of why she can't go out, yada yada. I'm just kind of wondering if I should force the issue. I'm kind of offended that they've lumped me in with all the racist dicks in my family--and I haven't gone so far as to tell him that. Maybe I should...?


Do you send birthday cards or Christmas presents specifically to her? Any sorts of rituals like that that tell her that you consider her family?

Do you ever talk to her on the phone or send her emails? Starting with non-face-to-face communication might be easier.

Or you could just flat out tell your cousin how you feel and see what he says.

You know, that's a damn good idea. I don't make it a habit to send cards or presents to anyone, but in this case, I might make an exception.

KTC
08-14-2008, 03:11 PM
I've told him in quite a forward way how I feel about it. It was a great deal like what you just said. But I've yet to get past the excuses of why she can't go out, yada yada. I'm just kind of wondering if I should force the issue. I'm kind of offended that they've lumped me in with all the racist dicks in my family--and I haven't gone so far as to tell him that. Maybe I should...?


It sounds like their backs are up because of the others maybe...maybe some have actually gone so far as to say not nice things to them? This would mean that she would be pretty shell-shocked and not really up to taking a chance. I don't think confrontational is what you want...but I think you have to convince your cousin first...he's probably acting sentinel to make sure she in no way gets hurt. He'll have her feelings ahead of yours, of course. I would go with an emotional plea to allow you to become a part of their lives before I'd go with telling him about your feelings and your being offended. I'd say it's a fine line...but one that you should be able to cross. I'm sure that once you do she'll be fine. It's up to your cousin to trust you enough to sell you to her.

Siddow
08-14-2008, 03:31 PM
Has anyone met her?

kct webber
08-14-2008, 03:36 PM
Yeah, KTC, she's definitely got her back up. No one has said anything directly mean to her--I think it's more a passive, obvious thing, like everyone is way too... formal, maybe. Anyway, the tension, I'm sure, was obvious to her. That's just as effective in putting someone's back up, though.


Has anyone met her?

Yeah, my aunt, uncle, grandmother and a few other family members have met her. I think that's why she doesn't come around anymore.

Siddow
08-14-2008, 03:46 PM
Ah, then, we know she's real. :)

I'd have to wonder about a person who was so dead-set against interacting with my SO's family. I can't stand the majority of my in-laws--they make really assinine remarks to me--but when my husband wants to visit, I grin and bear it, for him. They're just not allowed to come here. They can insult me all they want on their turf, but I'll be damned they'll do it on mine.

So your cousin must have made it clear to his gal that he is perfectly fine with her dissing his family, or she's a real piece of work and you should pity the poor man having to put up with it.

KTC
08-14-2008, 03:50 PM
So your cousin must have made it clear to his gal that he is perfectly fine with her dissing his family, or she's a real piece of work and you should pity the poor man having to put up with it.

Or--wait for it--he's attempting to protect her. I'd certainly put my life partner first in this case.

Still...he has to be able to convince her which family members are 'safe'.

Siddow
08-14-2008, 03:55 PM
Or--wait for it--he's attempting to protect her. I'd certainly put my life partner first in this case.

Still...he has to be able to convince her which family members are 'safe'.

Why, if it's a matter solely of him protecting her, does he drag her out of town to sit by herself in a hotel room while he yucks it up with the racists? That seems almost cruel, to me.

kct webber
08-14-2008, 04:10 PM
Why, if it's a matter solely of him protecting her, does he drag her out of town to sit by herself in a hotel room while he yucks it up with the racists? That seems almost cruel, to me.

I've sometimes wondered why she comes along. I never got the impression that he was dragging her, but then, I've never observed their relationship. I would have to point out though, that if she has enough of a say about things that she can insist on not interaction with us, then doesn't stand to reason that she has enough say about things to stay home if she wants.

Tink
08-14-2008, 04:23 PM
Kct, everyone is different. My Uncle-In-Law has a wife whose the same race as my family but she was born and raised in the north and she has nothing but contempt for his side of the family that lives in the south. He comes once, sometimes twice, a year to visit us 'southerners' and has been doing it for many years but she has only came with him twice. She thinks we are beneath her. I don't know why. I don't know if someone did something directly to her yrs. ago or what...I have been to her home and she was 'not' rude but she let me know in a round-about way how she felt about her husband's 'southern' family. I was stunned at her obvious contempt for us and after I realized how she truely felt I never returned to her home.
She claims to love her husband but how can she truely and yet maintain her awful feelings for his family? I know loving one doesn't mean you have to love the other but in this case how can that be defined as 'true' love? The uncle makes excuses for her every year and some people have finally learned to not even ask about his wife...Its sad.
What I am trying to get at is perhaps your cousins SO just simply don't want anything to do with his family...and he is covering it up with excuses. I don't know, of course, and this is just a suggestion--but maybe you should just leave well enough alone and accept the fact that you may never, ever meet her.
...but, and this is something I would do if I truely wanted to get to know her, I would go to the motel/hotel they are staying at and simply knock on the door of the room they are staying in and stick my hand out and say, "Hi, I have been dying to meet you and/or it is an honor to finally meet you. My name is Tink. Would ya like to go out for dinner? Etc., etc...." Then I would do all I could do to win her over (if she is worthy) with my winning personality. ;)
But, like I said, that is something I would do because I can be forward like that at times...it doesn't work for everyone.
Whatever you decide to do, Good Luck! :)

robeiae
08-14-2008, 04:30 PM
I agree that you should be open and honest with your cousin, re KTC's post.

That said, you don't really know what's been said between the two of them.

Two possibilities, however remote:

1) Your cousin has painted YOU in a negative light to her. Certainly, you don't want to think this could be the case, but it's possible.

2) Your cousin's relationship with this women is partly built on his presentation of himself--to her--as the one member of his family that has grown beyond racism. This is armchair psychology, so I can't really speak to the specifics, but I have known people that define themselves in just this way because it benefits them in this kind of relationship. They want their partner to see them as "better" than others. It's a power thing, really.

Just some things to think on, though. Hopefully, if you make an open and honest attempt to meet her, your cousin will respect you and things will work out.

kct webber
08-14-2008, 05:10 PM
...perhaps your cousin's SO just simply don't want anything to do with his family...and he is covering it up with excuses. I don't know, of course, and this is just a suggestion--but maybe you should just leave well enough alone and accept the fact that you may never, ever meet her.-Tink

I never got that impression. An aunt who met her--and who couldn't care less what color she is--said that she was really sweet and that she wished she would come around more. From what the aunt said, the woman was quite pleasant. But in that part of the family, that one aunt is not in the majority. If she does 'not want anything to do with the family' I get the impression it's because of tension caused by a few people from the family as a whole. That's what I want her realize--we're not all like that. I think she knows that--she knows it about the aunt I was talking about, anyway. That said, she does have reason to have her back up. I don't really blame her for that.

Robeiae:

I don't think that he has portrayed ME personally in a negative light, but maybe he has done so about the whole family. It's not that I think it impossible, I just don't have a clue why he would have.

As for that other thing... That's certainly possible. He doesn't seem like the type, but like I said, I've never seen them together.

Tink
08-14-2008, 05:24 PM
...but, and this is something I would do if I truely wanted to get to know her, I would go to the motel/hotel they are staying at and simply knock on the door of the room they are staying in and stick my hand out and say, "Hi, I have been dying to meet you and/or it is an honor to finally meet you. My name is Tink. Would ya like to go out for dinner? Etc., etc...." Then I would do all I could do to win her over (if she is worthy) with my winning personality. ;)
But, like I said, that is something I would do because I can be forward like that at times...it doesn't work for everyone.
Whatever you decide to do, Good Luck! :)


...perhaps your cousin's SO just simply don't want anything to do with his family...and he is covering it up with excuses. I don't know, of course, and this is just a suggestion--but maybe you should just leave well enough alone and accept the fact that you may never, ever meet her.-Tink

I never got that impression. An aunt who met her--and who couldn't care less what color she is--said that she was really sweet and that she wished she would come around more. From what the aunt said, the woman was quite pleasant. But in that part of the family, that one aunt is not in the majority. If she does 'not want anything to do with the family' I get the impression it's because of tension caused by a few people from the family as a whole. That's what I want her realize--we're not all like that. I think she knows that--she knows it about the aunt I was talking about, anyway. That said, she does have reason to have her back up. I don't really blame her for that.

Of course, if she has been mistreated (and from what you've said, she deff. has been mistreated) by parts of your family she is being very careful not to put herself in the line of fire again...
but with that said-Do you think that you could do something as bold as I suggested above? If so, then perhaps you will be able to mend some of the harm done by other members of ya's family, just by showing her you care enough to initiate the meeting...I know that it is considered rude to barge in on people if not invited but that may be the only way you will get to meet her if you can't reason with your cousin.
Either way, I do wish you luck and I hope you do get to meet her and get the opportunity to show her that not all 'southerner's' are racist.

kct webber
08-14-2008, 05:45 PM
Of course, if she has been mistreated (and from what you've said, she deff. has been mistreated) by parts of your family she is being very careful not to put herself in the line of fire again...
but with that said-Do you think that you could do something as bold as I suggested above? If so, then perhaps you will be able to mend some of the harm done by other members of ya's family, just by showing her you care enough to initiate the meeting...I know that it is considered rude to barge in on people if not invited but that may be the only way you will get to meet her if you can't reason with your cousin.
Either way, I do wish you luck and I hope you do get to meet her and get the opportunity to show her that not all 'southerner's' are racist.

Sure, I could do that. I think I would leave it as a last option, though. I have it in me to do that--I've done stuff like that before--but usually when I don't care if people like me or not. I just don't want to try to force her into a relationship that she may not want--yet. ;)

TrainofThought
08-14-2008, 05:48 PM
Hey kct, I didn't read everyone's response. I'd say keep trying if it's really that important to you. Maybe talk to her on the phone?

When it comes to family, we expect them to be supportive and understanding, wanting them to accept our choices, so when that's broken it's very hard to get it back. I have certain family members that are EXTREMELY JUDGMENTAL, and though they want me to come around with my lovers (okay, I'm not sleezy, I'm just referring to my history :)), they have no problem putting them down. So, through the years, my private life has remained that - private. I don't even discuss it with my mom, sister or brother who I love very much. Then again, I'm the type that HATES questions about my lovers (again, not sleezy, talking history). It's a safety thing and helps to avoid questions and insults.

I wish you luck. :Thumbs:

My cousin coming to town has, once again, brought up an issue that I'm concerned about. He, like me, is a white guy. He is dating a black woman. He has been dating her for years and they are, as far as they are concerned, married.

Now, half of my family (mother's side; cousin's side) is from the south it is obvious that many of them, especially the older ones, are quite against interracial relationships. Let me be clear here and say that I'm not implying that all southerners or even all "older" southerners are racists. I'm just talking about certain members of my family here.

The problem is--beyond the racism--is that this woman will not come around. When they come to visit, she stays at the hotel. I don't really blame her. But I've never met her. She's basically my cousin's wife, and I've never laid eyes on the woman.

I've tried inviting them to my house, or offered to take them out to dinner, away from the 'offenders' but there is always some excuse. She doesn't feel well, she's tired, blah blah blah. Everyone--including cousin and wife--knows exactly what this is, but no one wants to address it. I've confronted my cousin about it directly, but I'm certain much of this choice is hers. I am, of course, unable to speak to her. And the excuses continue. Frankly, I'm a bit ashamed of the whole situation.

This woman is, as far as I'm concerned, family and so I want to meet her and get to know her. How would you tackle this?

Tink
08-14-2008, 05:48 PM
Can you give her a call?

escritora
08-14-2008, 06:32 PM
Forcing yourself into her life as suggested by others is a mistake. When your mission is to open doors, you’d be a fool to purposely make her feel uncomfortable. But I see from your responses that you are too smart to go that route.

Mela
08-14-2008, 06:51 PM
We have a friend, lives in Ohio with his wife. She came out about seven years ago for a bat mitzvah, was insulted by a pair of women I call the "Arsenic Sisters" and hasn't come back since. But that was 7 years ago - we've told him since that we'd welcome her out and that she doesn't have to see the ASers but now it's a problem over leaving the dogs alone. Can't leave those dogs. Can't go to weddings, can't go on vacation, can't attend anything outside of her little circle in Ohio. I don't think we'll ever see her again.

But I'm wondering, like others, why she bothers coming at all. Visiting and not making an appearance is sending a possibly deliberate? - message to members of your family. I'm here, but I could care less about seeing you, so there, take that. One wonders who exactly she is trying to punish.

I'd be blunt. Tell him what you're thinking and if that doesn't solve things, I'm afraid you'll have to move on.

escritora
08-14-2008, 07:05 PM
Another possibility is that he asks her to come along in the hopes that she will change her mind once she is in the area. As her way of compromising, she goes. We don't know what happens behind closed doors and the conversations they have.

The decision to make a big deal out of her not visiting is on the hands of the cousin. This situation may be an ongoing debate between the couple or it may not. In either case, it’s their issue, not one else's.

Kitty Pryde
08-14-2008, 08:37 PM
If you have already extended yourself in a kind manner to no avail, my advice would be to give it a rest. My perspective, as a woman in an interracial couple (I am white and my partner is black), is that life is too short to put up with racist bulls***. Now, you are not a bigot. That's very clear. But this woman seems reluctant to interact after meeting other members of your family. Is it fair? Is it ideal? Does it make you happy? No. But. This is my interpretation of her behavior.

If you went on vacation and had to choose what to do for the day, would you choose, 1. hang out in a cool place, check out the locals, go for swim, chill or whatever, or 2. meet people who are going to judge you to be different, bad, or inferior to them based on the way you look? From her perspective, why would she put up with that even for a second? As I said, life is wayyyyy too short to deal with bigots. Have you ever been places or events where you are the only white person in the building? can you remember how it felt to have all eyes on you while you just tried to go about your business? Acutely uncomfortable, even if the people there are kind and welcoming! Now add to that the discomfort of being judged for no sensible reason and possibly insulted. Those type of situations are very heated, and in some cases (though i'd assume not in your family's case) can quickly turn violent. I think the emotions surrounding her visiting with your family are greater than you are envisioning.

my partner and i go to 'typically black' places , and we also go to 'typically white' places as well. 99 % of the time there is no problem. That other 1 % of the time we try to lay low and get the fudge out of there as fast as possible before anything happens, and we DON'T go back. Bottom line, I desperately don't want to be somewhere where people are hating me or my partner. There are too many places and people to enjoy without being hated on, why would I bother? And why would she?

Clair Dickson
08-15-2008, 01:45 AM
As to why she might come into town just to stay in the hotel-- I'd do it. I like to travel with hubby, and if he was doing somethign that I wasn't part of, I'd still want to travel and hang out at the hotel. It's a change of pace.

As for the rest, I'd ask cousin one last time why he won't introduce you to his partner. If he hedges, then tell him that you're sorry that he can't include you in this part of his life, but that if he changes his mind, the door is open. Then back off. You can't change people. You can only do your part-- the rest is up to him and his wife.

Snowstorm
08-15-2008, 07:37 AM
I agree with Clair Dickson. Perhaps race has nothing to do with her isolation, and your relative doesn't want to hurt your feelings. Maybe she's shy or not that social. Sounds like you've made the effort. I hope for you and your family things all work out.

kct webber
08-15-2008, 08:56 AM
If you have already extended yourself in a kind manner to no avail, my advice would be to give it a rest. My perspective, as a woman in an interracial couple (I am white and my partner is black), is that life is too short to put up with racist bulls***. Now, you are not a bigot. That's very clear. But this woman seems reluctant to interact after meeting other members of your family. Is it fair? Is it ideal? Does it make you happy? No. But. This is my interpretation of her behavior.

If you went on vacation and had to choose what to do for the day, would you choose, 1. hang out in a cool place, check out the locals, go for swim, chill or whatever, or 2. meet people who are going to judge you to be different, bad, or inferior to them based on the way you look? From her perspective, why would she put up with that even for a second? As I said, life is wayyyyy too short to deal with bigots. Have you ever been places or events where you are the only white person in the building? can you remember how it felt to have all eyes on you while you just tried to go about your business? Acutely uncomfortable, even if the people there are kind and welcoming! Now add to that the discomfort of being judged for no sensible reason and possibly insulted. Those type of situations are very heated, and in some cases (though i'd assume not in your family's case) can quickly turn violent. I think the emotions surrounding her visiting with your family are greater than you are envisioning.

my partner and i go to 'typically black' places , and we also go to 'typically white' places as well. 99 % of the time there is no problem. That other 1 % of the time we try to lay low and get the fudge out of there as fast as possible before anything happens, and we DON'T go back. Bottom line, I desperately don't want to be somewhere where people are hating me or my partner. There are too many places and people to enjoy without being hated on, why would I bother? And why would she?


This seems to me to be exactly what the issue is. That's why I've tried to get with them outside the normal 'family' setting--so they don't have to worry about that. In the end, what they are willing to do is up to them. But I hate that she assumes that it has to be like that when it doesn't.

A couple people have mentioned, basically, that there is only so much I can do to put myself out there. I realize that. But I don't feel like it's time to give up yet. However, if they insist on staying isolated for long enough, I'm not above shrugging them off. I won't like it, but I've done it before. I haven't spoken to my grandmother on that side of the family for about 10 years. I'd rather it not come to that in this case.



I appreciate everyone's comments. Thanks. :)

joyce
08-15-2008, 06:38 PM
Maybe you should just show up at the Motel they are staying at and visit. What could they do......not open the door? Has anyone in the family gone to where they live for a visit?

My first hubby was Heinz 57, which only ended up with my daughter turning out to be one exotic and beautiful looking woman. My second hubby's family was from Virginia and from the start I knew they had concerns about my hubby being with me. I just continued to be myself and after five years I know his mother fell in love with me.....I mean who wouldn't?:D I spent many years feeling uncomfortable but refused to let them run me away. I loved my hubby and daughter and I basically felt like "F you if you don't like me or the kid". 19 years later and we are still going strong!