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AIBU to not want my parents / grandparent to be racist? Set in their ways?

(52 Posts)
DeFluffMyFanjo Sun 06-Sep-09 19:10:27

My parents are v traditional and my grandmother even more so. They're quite racist in that although they'd never be horrible to anyone of another race (ie treat them differently, say anything to their faces) my father does use the c word and comments about why 'they' were good at running / athletics etc were common when I was younger (for those who don't understand what I mean - 'being chased by lions/living in the jungle', sorry).

Anyway, it never usually comes up in conversation thank God, and a few comments that have been made, in front of my 4 yr old DD, I have stamped on fairly hard.

But, the other day I tried to explain why I found it offensive, and that I felt they were letting themselves down by such thinking. After all they are intelligent, nice people and these thoughts/words are really beneath them. I didn't get very far sad

So my question is, should I let it lie as they are a product of their upbringings and a different time/place, especially my 90 year old grandmother, and I'm getting nowhere, I should I persist in trying to 'educate' them? BTW I don't hold out much hope of success. What do others do in these circumstances?

thesecondcoming Sun 06-Sep-09 19:16:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TheFinger2 Sun 06-Sep-09 19:19:46

god thats really sad!my grandparents were the same.my grandad wouldnt even let my mate uae the toilet at theirs as she was a 'darkie'.
keep on at them and hopefully they will give up with their comments - my grandparents eventually did!

MissSunny Sun 06-Sep-09 19:20:02

Message withdrawn

MissSunny Sun 06-Sep-09 19:21:06

Message withdrawn

nickytwotimes Sun 06-Sep-09 19:21:08

Loving the name, defluff.

It is very tricky because with my ILs, the more I try to argue, the more they say things as they seem to think racism is funny. hmm
I am firm with them when it comes to ds though. I do not let their dodgy comments go unchallenged and I certainly would never let them use racist slurs without asking them not to use such horrible, offensive words.
Fwiw, I don't think you will change them, but you can ask/demand that they keep their views to themselves.

golgi Sun 06-Sep-09 19:23:05

My grandparents are similar. Things like referring to a shade of brown as 'n' brown. However, my grandma has trouble grasping who we are when we come to visit, so getting into discussions about it seems fairly pointless. I disagree as gently as possible, she takes no notice.

DeFluffMyFanjo Sun 06-Sep-09 19:24:59

Not the 'C%%T' word!! The 'c££n' word. Sorry, trying not to be offensive. Rhymes with moon.

My Grandmother is hilarious, lots of 'I saw a doctor at the hospital the other day, he was [stage whisper] a darkie, but he was really good'!!!! Jeez.

I'm definitely trying to be firm when dd is around because I don't want her to think its ok, or even at her age repeat something not understanding it.

It just saddens me because while I can write off my grandmother due to her age / upbringing, my parents are intelligent people and I hate to feel ashamed of them.

FabBakerGirlIsBack Sun 06-Sep-09 19:25:07

YANBU, obviously, to not want them to be racist.

You have a right to try and make them see sense though.

Hassled Sun 06-Sep-09 19:27:30

I have ILs like this. All you can do is make damn sure they know you disagree with them - it is unlikely you'll change them. I have to remind myself that the ILs are nice, caring, kind, thoughtful people - but not of the generation or background where they would ever challenge their own upbringings. They haven't had the education that would allow them to question what they were told as children, and have lived all their lives in a very rural, very white environment.

My ILs have a similar attitude to gay people - but when they met my gay brother and his partner, they couldn't have been nicer. And they liked my brother - I think it did open their eyes a bit.

DeFluffMyFanjo Sun 06-Sep-09 19:30:56

I forgot that prejudice, I'm not even allowed to mention anything to do with anyone who might be gay / bi, I get a stern 'We don't talk about disgusting things thank you.'

MaryMotherOfCheeses Sun 06-Sep-09 19:32:13

Can you train your 4 year old to ask "Nana, why do you use such nasty words? They make me sad".

Well maybe not....

MaryMotherOfCheeses Sun 06-Sep-09 19:35:23

I'd be furious with them when they're saying such disgusting things themselves.

I think you have to persevere but gently. I don't think you should say it's illegal cos that will give them the opportunity to moan on about political correctness gone mad, or some such. But I do think you need to persevere.

kathyis6incheshigh Sun 06-Sep-09 19:39:49

My grandma changed her mind quite fundamentally very late on. She used to make comments like 'Why do they need to come here?' etc. When she met a lovely friend of mine who has an Indian dad and found out she had been to a private school she said 'Aren't our schools good enough for them?'

Anyway, in her mid 80s she had a fall. Initially she was sent to one of those hellish hospitals you read about where the nurses don't bother to feed old people etc. After that she was lucky enough to be sent to a nursing home which was run by a lovely Asian family who quite simply treated the elderly patients well and with respect. She told me after this she had been wrong about Indians....

So people do change their minds. However I'm not sure you can get them to through persuasion, they have to be convinced themselves.

(Actually, funnily enough, the friend I mentioned above had the opposite experience with her English granny, who reverted to her earlier racism when senile.... she would make comments to my friend about Indians oblivious to the fact that her grand-daughter was in fact half Indian....hmm)

TinyPawz Sun 06-Sep-09 19:51:25

I feel your pain!!

I have a mixed race dd and my mum & brothers have little phrases that drive me up the wallangry. They think that it is ok to use these terms when refering to someone off of the tv or in the street. I hate it..... everytime I bring it up, they manage to turn it round like I am being unreasonable because they have always said those things.

My argument is just because you always do it does not mean that it is rightsad.

posieparker Sun 06-Sep-09 19:53:15

Elderly people of 90 is one thing, ignorant racists of 60 is pretty foul.

LissyGlitter Sun 06-Sep-09 20:25:28

My nana can come out with some gems- she always smiles and goes out of her way to be nice to a woman in the village who is married to a black man because "it must be so hard for her" and makes a big deal out of hugging the black people at her church because she worries that others might not. I can't really tell her off for it, because she is actually being really nice, but I feel sorry for these people trying to go about their daily lives and being harassed by an elderly woman because of the colour of their skin!

She once asked me if garlic is that thing that Indians always smell of - I didn't know what to say! It was obvious she meant curry, but if I said that I would be confirming to her that it was ok to say things like that...

She used to work in a charity shop, and one day two blokes came in and looked at some bedsheets that were for sale. She was so embarrassed that they might be "you know, some of them" that when they asked how much the sheets were she told them they were tablecloths and not for sale! Poor blokes. They were probably just housemates or something anyway.

I tend to gently challenge what she says, but generally she is actually quite liberal, just stuck in the past. For example she is quite vocal about believing that men should do their share of childcare and housework, but is still shocked when she sees my DP change a nappy, and always remarks on how lucky I am to have a man like that.

TheFinger2 Sun 06-Sep-09 20:25:59

*MISS SUNNY*
Yes until this day it still annoys me that my grandad said those things (He is 90 now). But thankfully I had a fab mum who kicked him into place!!He now knows better than to make rasicst comments in front of either of us,wink.

pinkthechaffinch Sun 06-Sep-09 20:42:48

My mum's the same. She's done some sterling work with her MIL, my grandma over the years.

I know she still holds right wing, conservative and racist views, but she does try not to voice them in our hearing.

I have a mixed race ds, and sometimes, they do slip out though, she can't help herself.

When he was 4, he was climbing up the bannisters and it was 'oh well he would be good at climbing, wouldn't he?' and he's 'got such an amazing sense of rhythm'- when actually it is poor average hmm

chegirl Sun 06-Sep-09 20:51:36

Wrong is wrong, no matter the age. I think it is important to chanllenge racism and predjudice when we can.

If it is someone you love who is otherwise a nice person (IYSWIM) it can be done gently but firmly. You dont have to call some a facist bastard to get your point across. Older people are perfectly capable of learning and changing their views, to think otherwise is surely another form of predjudice?

My family used to say stupid, ignorant things like 'lets play spot the white man' if we were going through an area of the city with lots of black people. Not vile but casually racist all the same. As I became older and more aware I started pulling them up. I got a lot of 'ooooooh get her' type crap but it worked. My mother would dig her eyes out with a spoon rather than admit to the things she used to say out loud i.e. ' I dont mind them but I dont like it when they touch white women (watching a dance group on top of the pops)'

They still like to say things like 'well there isnt really any racism about nowdays is there'. Like they would know hmm

They used to say similar things about disability too and I got loads of stick for objecting to that.

I sound like a right prudey PITA, bundle of laffs dont I!

I am glad I did it. My kids are black, its important.

Portofino Sun 06-Sep-09 20:52:32

pink!!!! shock

coolma Sun 06-Sep-09 20:55:05

missy glitter that is funny - My mum is hilarious about our gay friends 'has x got a you know - a "friend" yet?'

footinmouth Sun 06-Sep-09 21:07:10

I have mixed views on this. I wonder whether sometimes people like that should be left to it.

I am black and my in-laws never liked me from the start because of this. When my daughter was born, her 'grandad' said 'well, I suppose half a n**r is better than a full one' and loads of other derogatory comments which were designed to have a dig at me and my self-esteem. I went on to have two other kids and the comments got worse.

12 years later, he has completely changed around. I haven't changed, I'm still me. I wouldn't have wanted to make him change. He would have had to do that of his own accord.

I do still resent him for the shit he put me through though, but I guess anyone would when someone was talking about your precious children like that

chegirl Sun 06-Sep-09 21:14:56

foot I wont write the words that spring to mind - too rude.

You have more forbarance and dignity than I, thats for damn sure.

You have definately come out on top but it must have been a strain sad

Mumcentreplus Sun 06-Sep-09 21:16:24

You can always teach people no matter their age...

I have happily educated random people who thought it was acceptable to tell me to 'Go back to my own country and other gems (duh! this is my country) smile.if they will learn is another thing!..

but it's important not you let those comments pass... you don't want that kind of bigoted crap to pass on to another generation..or your DC to see it as something acceptable for any reason..

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