If you’re in an interracial relationship you know a thing or two about forgiveness. The world basically judges you from the time you leave your front door until you climb into your bed at night. And it’s too much for you to hate the whole world and so, you forgive. Oh, it’s not the in-your-face judgments that give you the hardest time. An interracial couple can actually deal with those on a pretty easy level. Being told about another person’s belief that you should stick with your own kind is easy to deal with in that you know to immediately terminate all contact with said idiot. The road that has a danger sign is easy to avoid.
But the road that has no signs or warnings is far more dangerous. It’s as though you’re walking along and minding your business when you’re suddenly smashed in the head with a giant anvil of racism. The closet bigot is more dangerous to you. If you have a supervisor at work that smiles in your face but is actively preventing you from being promoted behind the scenes; that can hurt your entire family. It’s the act of hiding behind the veil of acceptance that can absolutely destroy lives. Just look at what’s going on in the professional sports world.
But what should you do if you encounter this type of thing in your lover’s family? How do you get past that? What are the politics involved in discovering that someone who presented themselves as completely accepting of your relationship, but ultimately turning out to be spreading venom and hate to all of the other members? How do you handle the initial discovery? Should you forgive or should you hold them in a permanent light of skepticism?
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Here are 5 Ways to Handle an Interracial Hater in your lover’s family:
1. Engage through proxy: You may be as angry as a rabid dog when you find out that someone has been slandering you. Your first impulse may be to directly confront the gossiper and give him/her a piece of your mind. Big mistake. First off, families are like society in general. Not all members share the same beliefs. You have a better chance of swaying all doubters and cleaning up whatever poison the individual has said through demonstrated positive behavior. Don’t engage the individual. Instead, have your lover approach the person and inform them that you both are aware of what has been said and that you want them to stop. But it’s your lover’s family so only your lover can do this. If you do it things will probably not turn out well. Surely arguing will ensue. You’ll risk alienating yourself and providing the hater a level of support to the rumors (I told you so).
2. Maintain who you are: You haven’t been welcomed into the family as a member so ruining your chances of ever being accepted as a normal member is very easy. Be aware of the things the hater has said about you but don’t let it affect who you are. Continue to show up with a smile. Continue to engage everyone in conversation, and I do mean EVERYONE. Yes, even the hater. Show that person that your world is bigger than is small opinions. If he/she affects who you are with some unfounded lie, who really wins? Stay focused on the happiness of your relationship and those people who support you. Those that don’t will eventually come along when they see how much you are in love.
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3. Don’t attack your lover: Chances are that your lover is EXTREMELY embarrassed. No one wants to have members of their family classified as bigots. Believe me, your lover is probably more angry than you are. But don’t attack your lover. It’s not their fault. Every family has an idiot or two that will only be revealed when the right amount of light and a splash of water are thrown on them (lol). Instead, show your lover your intelligence and tolerance level. Don’t completely bash the family member that’s the hater because he or she may be deeply loved by your lover. It’s family. And no matter what, they will always forgive.
4. Forgive but don’t forget: How can you be in an interracial relationship and not understand this? You have to forgive. That’s the motto of the average interracial couple. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a complete idiot about it. This individual may have said some very hurtful stuff. But forgive. It will add two pounds of respect to every family member and your lover will love you even deeper for it. Forgive. But don’t forget. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. No bigot has ever been accused of a one sentence infraction. Bigotry is a lifestyle. And chances are pretty strong that they’ll step on your toes again. Be vigilant.
5. Allow yourself to be angry and then… let it go: Don’t walk around pretending you’re not angry. I have friends that don’t know how to manage their anger. They’ll be offended and instead of dealing with that anger in a healthy way they’ll walk around with the “Viagra Man” smile on their face. Don’t do that. The anger has to go somewhere. Vent to your lover. Tell your friends. And then… Let it go. Everyone is entitled to a mistake or two. And at the end of the day, the hater doesn’t live in your house or sit at your dining room table every day. Get over it. Let it go. Life is much too short to give someone that much power.
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While love is difficult and family politics can be worse than a presidential election, we all have to go through it. You’re not only hoping to marry your lover, you’re going to be marrying your lover’s family to a certain degree. Fight the battles that need to be fought. Stand up for your love and your lover. Sure it’ll rain. But don’t forget to walk in the rain and stick out your tongue from time to time. No one can ruin your day without your permission.