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Mixed-Race Teen Has Perfect Response To Sister’s Boyfriend’s Offensive ‘Joke’ About Her Hair

Mixed-race teenage girl.
Maskot/Getty Images

Everyone has been guilty, at least once in their life, of speaking before thinking.

Where we say something which we realize either doesn’t make sense, or likely might not sit well with others.

Most of the time, we are able to realize this, and can smooth things over with a simple apology.

In far too many cases, however, people might not realize just how literally thoughtless what they just said was, and as a result end up digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole.

Redditor aita_pretending was used to people making insensitive, sometimes flat-out-ignorant, remarks all owing to the fact that she was mixed-race.

But when her stepsister’s boyfriend made a highly questionable remark about her appearance, the original poster (OP) wasn’t going to let it slide.

Much to the fury of her stepsister, and the humiliation of her stepsister’s boyfriend.

Wondering if she handled the situation as well as she could have, the OP took to the subReddit “Am I The A**hole” (AITA), where she asked fellow Redditors:

“AITA for pretending not to understand a joke so that my step sister’s boyfriend would have to explain it?”

The OP explained how after he stepsister’s boyfriend made a remark about her appearance, specifically how she lucked out in one certain area being mixed-race, she made him eat his words.

“I (18 F[emale]) live with my dad, his wife Hannah, Hannah’s daughter Grace (20 F), and our younger brother (8 M[ale]).”

“Grace really only comes to stay on the weekends since she’s in college, and this time she brought her boyfriend Issac (21 M) with her.”

“I’m biracial, my dad is white and my mom is black.”

“Honestly I don’t look anything like my dad so most people don’t even think I am mixed.”

“We like to joke that I got his personality instead of his looks.”

“People tend to say offhanded stuff to me about how I don’t look the way they think I’m ‘supposed to’.”

“I’m kind of used to it especially since my dad ended up married to a woman that is also white so like every time I’m with them it obviously looks like I’m the odd one out.”

“I’m not afraid to correct people, but sometimes that gets exhausting and I’ll just play dumb instead.”

“Grace and I had planned to get lunch together and her bf Issac ended up coming along with us.”

“She wants him and I to get to know each other better since she really likes him, so I figured that’s why she brought him.”

“While we were having lunch, my mom’s side of the family was brought up, and then Issac said that it must’ve been a shock to my dad at least for me to end up so dark since most mixed kids are lighter in complexion than I am.”

“But then he said that at least I ended up with ‘good hair’ so I didn’t lose out completely.”

“Grace didn’t speak up and say anything to him about it, so I pretended not to understand what he meant and asked what was so good about my hair and what it was he thought I was losing out on anyway.”

“He got flustered and said ‘well you know…most girls with your skintone have curlier hair’.”

“So then I asked why he thought my hair was good just because it wasn’t that curly.”

“He said he felt it just looked nicer.”

“So I asked why he thought that textured hair didn’t look just as nice.”

“He kept blubbering out excuses and digging the hole even deeper for himself, and finally Grace told me to cut it out and leave him alone.”

“I paid for my part of lunch and left after that.”

“I didn’t tell my dad or Hannah what happened, but it’s obvious enough that Grace is mad at me.”

“My dad asked that she and I solve whatever the problem is, because he hates seeing us be so tense around each other.”

“Grace ended up telling me that she was pissed because I made her boyfriend look like a jerk by playing dumb.”

“I told her that I didn’t have to make him look like a jerk because he already was one, but she said that I drew the problem out more than necessary and made it worse than it needed to be when I could’ve just told him that he f*cked up.”

“I mean I could have done that, but I don’t think it should be my job to, and plus I feel like it was probably more effective to get him to explain his logic outloud rather than have me tell him he was being a jerk.”

Grace is insisting that I should have just told him point blank, and bc I didn’t, she thinks I’m an AH’.”

“My dad just texted me to ask if something happened at lunch with Grace’s bf so I’m pretty sure when him and my stepmom get home later, I’m going to tell him what happened since it seems like he already knows something did.”

“Also, I do wanna say that my reluctance about telling my dad and Hannah isn’t because I want to protect Issac or anything, it’s because Grace is my step sister and I care about her.”

“I know she really likes this guy and I really only feel bad bc even though I know I didn’t really ruin anything for her, it feels like I did.”

‘The situation just sucks I guess.”

Fellow Redditos weighed in on where they believed the OP fell in this particular situation by declaring:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

The Reddit community agreed that the OP was not the a**hole for making Isaac explain exactly what he meant in his remarks regarding her hair.

Everyone agreed that the OP did exactly the right thing by making Isaas reflect on his words then and there, and that Grace’s anger likely stemmed from the fact that she was also upset by what Isaac said.

“Hi there.”

“I am also biracial, black and whit, and was raised by my blond haired blue eyed white mom.”

“So I can empathize with having to deal with very frequent micro, and sometimes macro, aggressions.”

“Playing dumb is often the most effective way to get people to comprehend their own prejudice.”

“Grace is angry because she has to either admit she is willing to accept that her boyfriend has these beliefs, unfortunately common for people to think this way, she and her boyfriend may both need to work on their own beliefs, or maybe end things?”

“Probably not unless this was a tip of the iceberg comment.”


“Good for you.”

“NTA.”- Comfortable-Dress-53


“You did him a big favor by humiliating him and forcing him to reflect on his racism.”

“If you’d called him a jerk he could’ve just got mad at you and moved on.”

“You dragged it out and he’s going to keep feeling it.”

“Maybe it won’t change him, but there’s a chance that it will.”

“You don’t owe him anything, but you went above and beyond in giving him an opportunity for personal growth.”

“Whether or not this was your intent, you were exceedingly generous.”

“Hopefully he learns from it.”- UrsaGeorge

“NTA and well done.”

“Isaac was being racist, and he made himself look bad.”- lihzee

“You’re definitely NTA.”

“Grace’s boyfriend is a racist.”

“It’s ‘diet racism’ but it’s still pretty f*cking racist.”

“And Grace is the bigger a**hole for not calling it out herself.”

“OP should call Grace out for being an enabler.”- warmnakedturtle


“What you did is called the Socratic method of teaching & there’s a reason it’s still practiced in classrooms thousands of years later, that sh*t works.”

“Grace also needs a dose of it regarding why she thinks you have a duty to make racists comfortable.”- psatty


“If Grace wanted it just said outright, why didn’t she speak up?”- westerlies_abound

The OP later returned with an update, sharing how her father and stepmother responded when she told them about what Isaac said.

“I ended up telling my dad and Hannah what happened when they got home, and they both told me that I did absolutely nothing wrong.”

“Hannah said that she would talk to Grace about it, and my dad basically said that Issac was no longer welcome anywhere near our house.”

“Dad also gave me a mini motivational speech where he reiterated that I look perfect just the way I am and that colorist/texturist/racist bigots have no place in our family or our home.”

“Grace drove back to campus a while ago so I guess Hannah is gonna call her later to talk with her about what happened.”

One can only hope that Isaac thought he was making a harmless observation about the OP’s hair.

Whether or not that was the case, however, it was still important for the OP to help him realize that his observation likely wouldn’t be viewed as harmless to many others.

Evidenced by the fact that when asked to explain himself, even he couldn’t explain what he meant.

Written by John Curtis

A novelist, picture book writer and native New Yorker, John is a graduate of Syracuse University and the children's media graduate program at Centennial College. When not staring at his computer monitor, you'll most likely find John sipping tea watching British comedies, or in the kitchen, taking a stab at the technical challenge on the most recent episode of 'The Great British Baking Show'.