racist MIL - Mothering Forums
Multicultural Families > racist MIL
maptome's Avatar maptome 08:00 PM 03-01-2010
DH's cousin, who is white, had her second baby with her husband who is Mexican. I made a comment that her second doesn't look at all like the first. MIL says something along the lines of, "Well that's what happens when you mix blood. Some look white and some turn out dark." DH is white and I'm Asian and I was pregnant at the time. She's said many racist things in the past, but that was the first time that I've been hurt.

And when DD was a few months old (7 months, now) MIL made a comment about how DD was "white" like her.

Before I had a child, I didn't really care about all of the stupid things MIL says. Now, I'm worried about my daughter hearing some of this stuff. I want DD to love and respect her grandmother, but I also want to protect her from the racist comments.

Advice?

Jaesun's Dad's Avatar Jaesun's Dad 08:17 PM 03-01-2010
I didn't find the comments you cite to be deliberately racist. A bit ignorant and insensitive, but in the context described it doesn't seem very venomous to me.

Long before my son was born I began calling my father on his um ... "cultural insensitivity" and xenophobia. He's my dad, and I love him but I won't let comment slide by. I didn't stand for it before, and I certainly won't stand for it now. If something she says bothers you then bring it up or have your husband bring it up if you're uncomfortable. Sometimes people don't mean to be offensive in their words, and letting them know their words were perceived as hurtful can help them avoid those mistakes in the future.

Or not ... my dad's "apology" after I called him out on his insensitive comments in regard to the Olympics (...something about the Asian dominance in skating but not phrased very eloquently...) was worse than his comment in the first place. But the guy's 78 years old he's not going to become magically politically correct all of a sudden, and he does love his grandson very much I know despite it all :-)
maptome's Avatar maptome 08:53 PM 03-01-2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaesun's Dad View Post
I didn't find the comments you cite to be deliberately racist. A bit ignorant and insensitive, but in the context described it doesn't seem very venomous to me.
She never says anything intentionally racist in front of me, but she is definitely a racist. She is also in her sixties, and I know that she will not change. About anything. I've given up trying to tell her things. And DH just lies to her to avoid talking to her! Digressing. I guess maybe I am sensitive to the things she says because I know where she's coming from. I guess DD isn't going to get warped or anything because she spends relatively little time with MIL.
Jackies Ladybug's Avatar Jackies Ladybug 09:02 PM 03-01-2010
yeah, my MIL is really similar, she will always take the opportunity to bring race, sex or sexual orientation into the conversation when possible. my husband and i have put our feet down on this and at this point our conversations are pretty much limited to the weather and dd's newest milestones.
even mentioning what we picked as a boys name elicited a response of "thats a N**** name!" HOLY CRAP WOMAN! can you not say just ONE decent thing EVER!?!


anyway, i totally can relate, and i'm really sorry you have to deal with it.
eepster's Avatar eepster 01:00 AM 03-02-2010
My MIL is a racist too. I can't really offer much advice though since MIL and I no longer speak to each other.
Swan3's Avatar Swan3 02:54 AM 03-02-2010
My ILs are also racist, but the comments you've mentioned here don't seem racist to me. THey're kind of a statement of fact no? I have one light and one dark child and I've always known it's because of our "blood mixing" or I'll quote Forrest Gump "you never know what you're gonna git"...maybe I'm less sensitive in that regard. What does bother me is comments about races/cultures/religions that are generalizations, good OR bad. In our case, my ILs are xenophobes...and use racial slurs. I call them on it and ask them if they'd like our daughters to repeat the things they say to their diverse group of classmates. It's working so far!

Some people are more focused on race... and mention it a lot but it may not be with bad intentions. What are this woman's intentions? Does she think it's interesting (I do!)? Or does she obviously place a higher value on skin colour? Does she show more affection to the child that looks more like her?
Eclipsepearl's Avatar Eclipsepearl 06:40 PM 03-02-2010
This is a tough one. I have similar, although it's not racial.

I get comments about my children being "dark" like their dad. One friend looked in the crib and said "I guess there wont be any blond babies!" and last weekend, a friend of my dh's said "None of them are blond like you? You didn't get any blonds?"

It always bugs me because it makes it sound like the fact my kids are not light like I am is somehow a loss. Often, and this is not a comeback everyone can use but my whole family has brown eyes and black hair (well obviously there were a few blue eyes floating around but we have never figured out the hair...). I was a bit of a joke growing up (the mailman, etc.) and felt very self-conscience that I didn't look like the other members of my family.

"No, I guess this blond business starts and ends with me!" or sometimes I say "Well, at least they look like the rest of their relatives-on my side too!" Then, it's obvious that any "blond" comments might mean insulting my whole clan lol!

I wouldn't worry about it too much. Call her out if it's overtly "racist" or insensitive. For example, if she says something about your child will be good in Math automatically because of his background. Use some sort of line about not reinforcing stereotypes or pegging people. You can keep it light and change the subject. If your child picks up on any of this, just tell them that older people have some weird notions, old fashioned, out-of-date ideas, etc.

If she gets out of hand, have your dh talk to her. It's his mother and his responsibility. This can be a revenge tactic for having two children marry people of different backgrounds. Don't play into it. Many grandparents rile up their dil's and sil's, only to be nice as can be to the grandchildren.

It also might be the adjustment to letting go of her fantasy of having white, blond, blue eyed grandchildren. She may have pictures of her friends' white, blond, blue eyed grandchildren shoved in her face on a regular basis and this might make her feel that hers' wont measure up.

Let her get over this and give her time and space to get a grip on reality. In time, she'll establish a relationship with her grandchildren and be able to appreciate their individual merits. The whole race thing wont matter, or matter as much. Right now, they're small or not born yet and she's obviously dealing with some issues. When her grandchildren are real human beings, showing off artwork, good grades and cartwheels, you may see a real change in her attitude.

We all know that it's easy to love children who don't have any of your physical traits. Adopted people love their children just as much as biological parents do and having a child look like you doesn't increase the love between a parent and child. Expectations can be tough to let go but they can be reshaped. That just has to sink into her heart!
redvlagrl's Avatar redvlagrl 02:01 PM 03-10-2010
Ehhh, MIL's can be so frustrating. Mine has said some nice stuff too, like "all my friends think I'm so lucky to have a half asian grandbaby. I can't think why". Or when she mentions our nephew's cousins (who are half black) she always refers to them as his "dark" or "black" cousins.

We let it slide because it's nothing too bad but it does irk me.
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