I have a family problem that I need your help with. I’m sort of caught between my boyfriend and my relatives, or actually my grandmother to be more specific. My boyfriend is black, and it’s taken some time for my mom to get used to that but she’s gotten to know him and really loves him to death now. The problem is her mom, my grandma. My boyfriend and I have been dating for almost six months now and I didn’t even tell her until about a month ago because she is very prejudiced. She would never hurt a fly but it’s just how she was raised. I told her I had a boyfriend but not that he was black, and I feel bad about that. I was raised to not be prejudiced at all (even though I think my mom is a little bit) and I don’t think I should have to tiptoe around someone for their wrong thinking.
Anyway, my grandma’s birthday is coming up and our relatives are getting together for a party next month. I want to bring my boyfriend, but my mom says it will only make drama. But like I said, why should we have to tiptoe around when we’re not the ones who are wrong? I’m very angry at my mother for not sticking up for me, because as long as she (grandma) is allowed to go on like this, things don’t get better. What should I do? Oh, my boyfriend, by the way, is a saint, and he says whatever we need to do is fine with him. He’s a great guy!
Fed Up With Racism
Dear Fed Up,
Your mother is right, sort of. You shouldn’t be OK with racism, obviously, but you don’t want to create a huge conflict at a large gathering, and I seriously doubt your sainted boyfriend deserves to be put through that either. I’m not saying her views should be accommodated, or even tolerated, but you have to think about what your ultimate goal is. Do you want to change her beliefs, or just show her how mad you are at her? If it’s the former, and I hope it is, you’ll want to pick your moment. A big occasion in your grandmother’s honor ain’t it. Let the party come and go, and talk to G-ma about your boyfriend first, before she meets him. Be patient with her; give her time to get to know him like your mother did. If she can’t ditch her inner Clampitt, that’s when you let her know that she can hold any opinions she wishes, but they won’t have an audience. If she can’t hold her tongue and at least be polite, she won’t be spending much time with you. But don’t worry, it won’t likely come to that. She may need more time than your mother took, but she’ll learn to probably tolerate, and possibly love, anyone who loves you, regardless of race. Good luck to you.