What Do I Say to My Fiancé’s Family after They Called Me Racist?

All because I spoke out against Trump

woman gazing at the sky

Q:I am in an interracial relationship. I am Black, and my fiancé is white, and I haven’t shied away from my feelings about the current administration in the U.S. But I have always been vocal about a lot of things—it’s just my nature. Last week, a family member of my fiancé’s called him and asked (word for word), “How is she going to marry you when she’s such a racist?” He also asked if I have any “white friends.”

I have met his family, and even though they live in another state, we get along great. But our interactions are limited to one or two visits a year… and social media. But apparently, now that I am not a supporter of their current president… I’m the racist. It’s laughable, and it’s offensive. I am offended that they would have the audacity to even hint that I am a racist. I’m a Black Woman, and I think if anyone would be against racism or discrimination, it would be me. I have prayed each night for God to help me let this go.

Under any other circumstance I would call the family member and let him know exactly how I felt about his questioning. I have also tried very hard not to post anything I think they would be mad about, which is very frustrating to me. I have never posted anything pertaining to race, due to the fact that has nothing to do with why I don’t agree with certain policies and activities.

I need advice on how to deal with this, because we still have five months to go before the wedding, and family is very, very important to me—I want to make sure my fiancé’s family joins the celebration. I also don’t want to see them and have everything I’ve been holding in for five months comes spilling out at the rehearsal dinner. What do I do?

–Swirl Problems
A:Dear SP,

This is your partner’s battle to fight, for two big reasons.
First, it’s his family. I always get a bit of push back from commenters when I talk about this, but if it’s his family and you’re just starting out together, leave it to him to handle them. He gets their dynamic, he knows how to address them; you’re just getting to know them, and (trust me) you don’t want your first interactions to be negative. In this situation, especially, it’s also about beginning to build a foundational expectation that he defaults to your side, not theirs—that he’s got your back in all things, but especially when you’re right and they’re wrong.
Jareesa adds:
Fiancé needs to handle his family, and he needs to have her back a hundred percent. To me that means letting the entire family know that they aren’t going to change or put up with this shit, and if anyone has a problem with her, they have a problem with him, and they need to keep it to themselves. Anything less than that response would be unacceptable to me.
The second big reason he needs to handle this is because he’s the white dude. You’re not obligated to explain yourself or your perspective. Najva wants to tell him:
OMG dear white man, SCHOOL YOUR FAMILY. Teach them that reverse racism doesn’t exist. Do the work. He should be like, “If you don’t see I Am Not Your Negro and 13th and then read Between the World and Me and The Underground Railroad, then you can walk out of my life, bye.
Long-term, at least you’ve got this person’s number now. You know what to expect (and yes, sadly, you can expect more of it). Jareesa suggests:
You should also think about what you’re signing up for and how you want to deal with these folks moving forward, ’cause it’s only gonna get harder. When you have kids who are biracial, how will his family behave? Think about that and also talk to your partner and make sure he’s going to support you if there’s more conflict with his family.
On top of all that, I would stop changing your social media habits to suit them. I get it. I agree that we all have to make concessions to coexist peacefully with in-laws. But we’re talking about your opinions, your politics. Don’t filter these things to make anyone else comfortable. Jareesa adds:
A lot of people are using “That’s racist!” as a way to shut down dissent or conversation about true racism, discrimination, and issues that people of color face, which I also think this family member is doing. Basically, he wants her to stop bringing any attention to the fact that she’s not a privileged white person like the rest of the family.
Najva says:
Don’t change your public stance or soften it for white feelings, sorry not sorry. Post about race 24/7 because racism is real and it exists.
I realize that these things don’t change the anger and resentment you’re carrying. You’ve still got a bunch of feelings and an obligation to sit across the room while this person eats a chicken dinner you paid for. I get it. But if he didn’t already, having your partner handle it in an explicit, definitive way as described above may settle some things for you emotionally, and it might make it feel less pressing to give his family a piece of your mind. And giving yourself a pass to be yourself on social media without regard for how they take it might help, too (they have an “unfollow” button just like the rest of us). Beyond that, I’d talk to your partner. Think through what might set off the everything “spilling out” that you’re afraid of. If it does, what would your ideal response look like? And what happens if everything unravels in a way that’s less than ideal?


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