How many ADD artists does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Let’s go ride bikes.

My brother-in-law just moved back to town from Phoenix. He’s a Harley guy. He lives an amazingly minimalist lifestyle. He owns almost nothing. A few pieces of furniture, his truck, a bicycle and the requisite Harley Davidson. He’s almost fifty and except for the graying hair, looks like he’s thirty. No fifty year old should have such a flat stomach. I get along with him although we don’t have much in common. Other than being excentric. He’s a hermit and I guess you’d call him a redneck. Prefers to work night shifts, doesn’t show up for family functions, never really has a whole lot to say. But he’s a hard worker, honest and will help you out when you need him.
So we bought some new deck furniture, found a deal at the megastore’s outlet shop. We called him to help us bring it home with his truck. Got the job done and invited him to stay for dinner. I was kind of surprised that he accepted the offer, he usually begs off. So I went to the grocery store to get the fixin’s for my caper and sausage spaghetti. Everything went fine, a pleasant evening. I was thinking that in spite of the differences I’ve had with Beck’s family (right wing Christians for the most part) that the were all right and that they were a divers and interesting lot. She’s got seven siblings, so I guess no one could deny that last statement.
So here’s the problem. Last night Beck told me that while I was gone her brother was dropping the “n” word, talking about his coworkers in his new job. That and ridiculing our neighbors who have a sign promoting the repeal of Minnesota’s new conceal and carry law. I’d fogotten about that side of his personality. How red his neck really is. So just as I felt like I was growing fond of him, my level of esteem for him plummets like a rock.
I wonder what I would have done if he would have said those things in my presence. Would I have done the right thing, told him that that he was welcome to express his ideas about guns, but racism isn’t acceptable in my house. Would he have said anything in front of me? I’ve made my position known a long time ago. Before we were married we were at a family dinner when the gay bashing started. One of her sisters stated that homosexuality is a sin. I made an impassioned, but not very good argument that ended up making my future MIL cry in public. I’ve kind of lain low with my opinions ever since. I’m outgunned, that family has arguing down to a fine art.
I need to prepare myself. I need to be ready to calmly state to him that racist language isn’t acceptable around me. I have to realize I won’t change him and I can’t shut him out because he’s family. But I’m so disappointed. I thought he’d grown up a little. I’m sad.

13 thoughts on “

  1. Reminds me a little of my older brother. Somewhat racist (against Asians, not blacks), and also stuck in other ultra-conservative ways. But there’s no telling him differently, even when he’s flat wrong and I can prove it, so since I rarely see him anyway, I just let him have his say. It’s hard. Good luck.

  2. Some people are doomed to never grow up. It’s sad, you’re right – but what can ya do? Thenarrator is right, there should be guidelines set for what will be said in your presence, in Beck’s presence, in your home. It sounds like her family’s wrapped tighter than Tyvek (don’t ask), and so the whole get-together situation will most likely just be a tongue-bitin’ ordeal. It sucks, but they’re the ones losing out, being so close-minded.

    Your brother sounds like an awesome dude.

  3. That is sad.  I had to give my Mom the verbal smackdown a couple of times.  Even sadder?  She’s had African-American friends… at work back up north (had the lady’s retirement party at my aunts house), as well as a neighbor down here.  But then they (her and my stepdad) slip into that “well you know how they are” mode when you least expect it during a conversation.  Pisses me off… I just don’t understand that.

  4. i’ve had so many arguments with my stepfather because he is racist.  he says being from new york city gives him the right because he “knows” what other people are like.  oh pulleeze.  i finally told him that he can say what he likes in his own house, but i won’t tolerate his garbage around my kids or me.  and if he wanted my kids to visit, he needed to quit the racist crap.  my kids don’t tolerate it, either, so he tones it down whenever they are around.  but i hear him and my brother in law talking down on people all the time.  we limit our time with them.

  5. it wasn’t until i had kids that i started telling my father where to shove it when he would spew that trash.  i was absolutely adamant that none of that shit reach my children’s ears from his mouth, and that not a single off-color word be uttered in my house.  it has, at times, led to his storming out of my place and not speaking to me for weeks afterwards.  whatever, man.  you and mom always said, when it’s my house, i can make the rules.  now you get to live by ’em.

  6. okay. I guess I shouldn’t comment so soon after I wake up. I didn’t realize the brother-in-law was the same guy, I thought they were two separate entities. I take it back. However, if you’ve got a bro that is a liberal and all that good junk, then he’s the one what rocks.

    I’ll read more carefully next time – I promise!

  7. Yeah, I never know how to react, really, because different people have different influences in their lives, and people tend to surround themselves with people who think like they do . . . and so in that sense, “good” people can hold “bad” opinions.  I try to draw the line between what is a matter of common sense and decency, and what is a matter of misunderstanding or lack of education.  To me, there’s a difference, when considering people’s opinions. 

    The hardest time I have is when it’s my father-in-law, and I have to refute something he’s said, in German.  And then I get frustrated when I can’t express it, so I get Heike to do it, and she doesn’t do it the way I would if I knew the language better, and we go round and round.  *sigh*

  8. my grandfather would drop the N word here and there, the first time he did it I was shocked… it’s not that I got used to it, but I realized it would never change. and I was grateful I wasnt raised that way.

    I had a few racist friends, they’re not my friends anymore. it’s not worth getting upset over. relatives are harder, though. cant get away from them

  9. Husband’s sister’s husband is a oaf who redneck racist.  Can’t stand the guy, he’s also a bully.  My kids are older now, but when they were little I’d be nervous about just what was going to come out of his mouth next.  Husband’s family is hard-core christian, it’s been a hoot, these 20 years. 

  10. I think some of my family is the same, and that’s part of why I want to be far away from them all.

  11. I think History Pig brings up an interesting point.  There are cultural and social influences to be considered when you decide how angry you can be toward people.  My mother was raised in a country with no black people at all.  Then she moved to the US and worked in a factory with uneducated angry people of ALL races, but since she had had OTHER experiences with all the other races, she developed a really bad opinion of African Americans (which was not helped by our fairly prejudiced media – although it has changed a lot in the last 10 years).  In any case, we had many blow outs about it since I jsut don’t care what color people are.  There are ignorant and offensive people in every race, as well as rednecks in every race as well as wonderful, kind, open people as well in every race.  Over the last few years, she has an opportunity to build some close friendships with African Americans and her opinion has definitely changed.  But that is b/c she was open to it.  Some people aren’t.  Then again, some people never get the chance.  Then again, some people are just angry and hate whoever is easiest (usually people they have never actually had contact with).  Just for the record, there are plenty of other races who hate plenty of other races.  Whites are just double lame b/c we often hold the most power (access to resources, etc.)

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