When an elderly lesbian spoke of finally feeling brave enough to wear a rainbow pin in public, those around the table applauded her courage.Among participants in our round table discussions, family moments represented some of the greatest difficulties: How to speak up to the people closest to you, those you love the most, whether in response to a single instance or an ongoing pattern. What roles do elders and children play, and how might their words carry more weight or impact?
Your classmate insults something by saying, "That's so gay." And you stand there, in silence, thinking, "What can I say in response to that? Or, frustrated or angry, you walk away without saying anything, thinking later, "I should have said something." People spoke about encounters in stores and restaurants, on streets and in schools.
They spoke about family, friends, classmates and co-workers.
Those anti-Semitic remarks are putting a lot of distance between us, and I don't want to feel distanced from you." Reach out. If you choose to continue with them, I will take the children and leave.
And I'm informing you that racist 'jokes' or comments will not be allowed in my own home." Describe your family's values.
Your spouse's/partner's family may well embrace bigoted "humor" as part of familial culture.
Explain why that isn't the case in your home; explain that principles like tolerance and respect for others guide your immediate family's interactions and attitudes. Although you may not be able to change your in-laws' attitudes, you can set limits on their behavior in your own home: "I will not allow bigoted 'jokes' to be told in my home." Follow through.
The Southern Poverty Law Center gathered hundreds of stories of everyday bigotry from people across the United States.
They told their stories through e-mail, personal interviews and at roundtable discussions in four cities.
In this case, during her next visit, the woman and her children left when the father-in-law began to tell such a "joke." She did that two more times, at later family gatherings, before her father-in-law finally refrained.
A woman's young son tells a racist "joke" at dinner that he had heard on the playground earlier that day.
When a Native American man at one roundtable discussion spoke of feeling ostracized at work, a Jewish woman nodded in support.