A 24-year-old woman wasn’t sure what to do after children from her husband’s family made ignorant comments to her. After arguing with her 32-year-old husband, she decided to turn to the Relationship Advice subReddit for help.
Redditor chokecherryii stated:
“Husband’s family is saying racially insensitive things about me to their kids.”
“As a bit of background, I am Native American (Cree) and my husband’s family are all Russian immigrants. He’s been here for about fifteen years, and we have been married for over 3 years now.”
“This past weekend we had a baptism and my husband is the godfather to his uncle’s new baby. We had a little party for it at our house, and his uncle’s family as well as his extended family was there.”
“During the party, two of his uncle’s sons (5 & 7) kept asking me what my race was. I told them I was Cree and to call me Native American.”
“They in turn called me an Indian over and over while finally asking me if I was a savage with a horse.”
“I have never heard this from any child before, especially children who have English as a second language. I’m honestly hurt and shocked, debating on never seeing his family again because children don’t just say things that haven’t been repeated to them.”
“My husband and I have been arguing all week because I said his family is racist and probably call me an Indian/savage behind my back. He thinks I am insulting his family, which isn’t entirely true.”
“Do I forgive them for being ignorant or cut all ties with them immediately?”
“I want to give them the benefit of the doubt that the only exposure to Native people they have is through movies with like cowboys and horses, but I’m very hurt.”
His family has never entirely accepted me even if they are nice to my face because I am not Russian or White. I love him and I don’t want to keep his family from him but I just can’t be a part of it if they think I’m a savage.”
Redditors had plenty of advice to offer.
“He needs to stand up for you and talk to his family about their kid’s rude, racist behavior. I don’t buy the excuse that these kids just magically picked up this language outta nowhere – but even if they didn’t learn it from their parents, it’s still something that your husband should address with his family, because you shouldn’t have to deal with racial abuse every time you visit his family.”
“Your husband needs to approach his family and tell them AT MINIMUM that the kid’s behavior needs to stop. If they aren’t willing to comply, then I don’t see why you should have to subject yourself to their racist nonsense.” ~ Throwaway321322323
The OP responded and revealed she had a son to consider.
“I agree—It came from somewhere, and even if they didn’t say it he should correct them because I don’t want my son growing up thinking that I’m okay with his family using that language to describe us.”
“It’s insulting and degrading… if he doesn’t agree then I just won’t be a part of family things anymore.”
The Redditor agreed.
“I think that’s a fair boundary! If your husband doesn’t like it, frankly, he can go kick rocks. If he wants to prioritize his family over you and your son…then he’s an a**.” ~ Throwaway321322323
“It’s not your job to teach people about racism. However, if you want to try and enlighten these folks, that would be your choice.”
“Are you certain that these children are repeating things they heard from family members vs. other influences? (They certainly heard it somewhere).”
“Your husband should not be OK with his family minimizing you, insulting you, etc. He chose to marry you and if he did that knowing that his family would hate you, I question his choices, I question why he never forewarned you about it, and I question why he tolerates it.” ~ aenflex
The OP responded again to say her husband has defended her in the past.
“I’m wondering the same things. Part of me wants to take the high road and send them some children’s books about native cultures but I don’t know if that will change anything.”
“I’m not certain they heard it from family, it might have been from TV or a movie but from what his family has said about me when we were dating I would not be surprised if they call me that.”
“He has defended me before multiple times (ex. I refuse to let my MIL cut my son’s long hair) but this time he just shut me out and refused to listen to me.”
A Redditor agreed that books for the kids was a good option.
“I think sending them some books is a great idea. At the end of the day it’s not the children’s fault.”
“And if you manage to reach them and show them who you are, you will in fact make a difference for the next generation :)” ~ iAmTheRealDeeDee
One Redditor pointed out that in Europe the words Indian, Red Indian and Savage are terms used in books, on TV and in movies for the people indigenous to the Americas.
“To be honest if they’re from Eastern Europe or grew up among Eastern Europeans it’s fairly possible they have mostly been exposed to the vastly outdated and problematic ‘savage with a horse’ image of an ‘Indian.”
“The word ‘Indian’ is still perceived as quite normal in my language which is close to Russian. There are a lot of old and famous adventure stories and films which portray Native Americans in the Wild West type of way, and for children or their uneducated parents these can still be the first thing they think of when hearing about your race, sadly.”
“It definitely is racist, even if the context might be a little different. When it comes to the children, I’d say a little education could go a long way, but for the parents I’m not sure, it really depends and might not be worth the struggle.” ~ Toby_Shandy
“I second the language thing. Kids call you Indian and probably said the horse thing because that’s what their parents said to them to explain what it means. Might have also seen it in a cartoon too.”
“I could see it happening with my family that’s also slavic and my best advice is to talk to them and explain why it hurt your feelings because they probably don’t get it at all. It doesn’t need to be a 3 hour therapy session, if they mean well they’ll get it real fast.”
“I know everyone is saying ‘It’s not your job to educate them about racism’ but that’s a bullshit stance to take here in my opinion because it’s a cultural thing and it’s also children who in their native tongue say Indian instead of Native American.” ~ PlesuciKaktus
On Redditor gave a response that the OP called really helpful.
“So you’re right to be upset and take this incident seriously. But I think the conversation with your husband has gotten out of hand.”
“It’s not about what those kids said and how it made you feel anymore. It’s about whether his family is irredeemably racist and whether you are going to allow them to be a part of your life and for your husband, what that means for him.”
“And he probably feels pretty powerless because whether his family has racist views is not really anything he can do something about.”
“Make it about what the kids actually said and did at the baptism. Ask your husband to refocus on that.”
“I would tell your husband that part of what you need is for him to have your back, particularly where you are vulnerable, and because you are Native American this is particularly important to you.”
“Your husband CAN do something about this: he can tell his uncle about what his sons said to you at the party and how badly it upset you and how he thinks they need to be talked to. He can suggest ways in which that could happen, and ways in which you can be involved, but I wouldn’t be too married to any particular way of resolving the situation.”
“These are young kids and it’s really the parents’ business how they handle it.”
“The response of your husband’s family to your husband will tell you a lot about who they are as people and where this kind of thing came from. And it’s really the adults whose racial behavior is important here. The kids can be taught better.” ~ PM_T*TS_OR_DONT
The OP returned with an update.
“My husband just called to apologize for our fights this week and told me he didn’t want to lose me over this. He offered to speak to his uncle and have us sit down together to talk about it tonight over dinner.”
“Hopefully this goes well. Wish me luck that we can make this a teaching moment and I don’t have to cut them off for good.”
The OP later deleted their post without further updates.