Your Uncle Just Said, "But the Irish Were Slaves Too!" What Now?
SHANE LORENZEN // NOVEMBER 9, 2018
Yes, folks, it’s that time of year again! Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes — everyone loves Thanksgiving! However, it can be stressful spending time with your family, especially when their ideas can be a little…well, let’s just say “old fashioned!” For instance, there’s always that point in the night when everyone’s a few rounds in, the dessert’s not quite ready yet, and the lull in conversation has been seized upon by your Uncle Rob as an invitation to expand on his fucked-up thoughts on the current state of race relations in this country. But that’s okay because we know you’re the Good Kind of White Person, so here are five things you can do when political conversations at dinner get tense and your drunk-ass uncle says something silly like “the Irish were slaves too!”
1. Ask Your Grandmother to Tell a Story!
Your grandmother has led an interesting life and when she speaks, people listen! Ask her about what it was like coming to America, or how she and your grandfather met. Those are some real important stories and your uncle is going to have to shut the fuck up!
2. Yell at your annoying cousin!
Everyone knows your little cousin, Declan, sucks. Chances are, he’s doing something he’s not supposed to! If you start ragging on him, the whole family is going to want to get their two cents in; it’ll be a great opportunity to blow off steam. And then hopefully your uncle forgets whatever nonsense he was saying about Colin Kaepernick!
3. Offer to go to the store and buy more beer!
This one’s especially good, because it gives you a reason to leave and avoid whatever racist bullshit is about to go unchallenged. And who knows, maybe the prospect of more alcohol will make your uncle forget what he’s saying? Hopefully! Plus, you get the opportunity to smoke weed while you’re out there, which will make disassociating and ignoring your family’s little quirks that much easier!
4. Explain that his statement is a myth propagated by white supremacists whose willful misunderstanding of the differences between indentured servitude and chattel slavery in the Caribbean Islands and North America as they were both used by the British empire is simply another in a long line of attempts to belittle the ongoing Black American struggle to attain equitable legal and social standing in this country, and that it is truly sad he only pretends to care for the struggles of his own ancestors as long as they allow him to condescend to and demean people of color, and further tell him to seek out works of scholarship like How the Irish Became White, The Wages of Whiteness, et cetera, in order to understand the history behind his words and the ways in which they propagate the injustices upon which this nation was built!
Sure, I guess this might work!
5. Shake your head no, look at your phone, and hope he stops talking soon!
That last one would be opening a can of worms now wouldn’t it? He’d probably ask, “Where’d you learn that? Snowflake University? Where you got a degree in being triggered?”, then burp in your face and then all your family would laugh at you again like last year when you quietly pointed out that “Redskins” is technically a slur during the football game. Addressing your family’s long held prejudices is hard and anyway, you want him to get you something nice for Christmas, right? Don’t worry, just make sure you retweet something from Shaun King or Noam Chomsky later. That’s way more useful than confronting instances of actual, real-life racism!