How Do I Tell My Grandma Her Racist Boyfriend Isn’t Invited to the Wedding?

He says racist things to my POC fiancé

Q: I realize that it is expected to invite the partners of your guests, whether you’ve met them or not, and I’m sure it’s even more expected when you have met them and they’re family. However, in the age of a Trump presidency and marrying a person of color, I feel strongly about not allowing folks who have expressed racist views toward my partner at our wedding. My grandma’s boyfriend says something extremely racist and inappropriate about my partner every time we’ve seen him (which over the years is less than a handful of times). He also has a drinking problem and gets very loud, so our planned open bar would make him even harder to control. Obviously I want my grandma to be there, but not more than I want my guests and future spouse to feel safe. What is the best way to navigate this situation? We are just under a year out from our wedding, so time is on our side in that way, and we haven’t sent out save the dates yet.

—No Old Person Exception (to racism)

A:Dear NOPE,

Your gut here is right. No old racists at the wedding insulting the couple: fair. Your feelings are reasonable and your priorities are in perfect order. Don’t invite him.

That’s not to say it’ll be easy. Grandmom likely won’t be the only one upset by this choice. But what was that old poster hanging in my high school? Something about how doing the right thing isn’t always easy. Really, the only real way to make this easier would have been to not wait until the wedding to address it. There were a small handful of occasions where he said something racist? Call it out in the moment, every time. (And maybe you did, I don’t know.) When you do that, when it comes time to make these harder stands, it isn’t altogether a surprise.

Whether or not you’ve called it out in the past, at this point, I’d phone Gran and tell her personally that her man isn’t invited. Maybe wait till those save the dates are shipping, but be sure to do it a while before the wedding. This way you can express everything you’d like to say, let her know just how much you hope she’ll still be there, and clearly explain why her boyfriend isn’t included. She’ll have time to think about what you’ve said, and if she ultimately chooses to also skip the wedding (which: spoiler alert, is pretty likely), at least she’ll have had time to not just make a knee-jerk decision. You still care about your grandmom. Letting her know personally, early, is the gentlest way to handle her feelings without compromising your standards. Boyfriend isn’t thinking about other folks’ feelings, so somebody should. And I’m sorry that in this case, you seem to be the one who has to do that emotional labor.

—Liz Moorhead


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