Loving Deplorably Unlovable Loved Ones
Table of Contents
This article was written by Terry Trueman with AI Assistance.
The Changing Tide of Racism Tolerance
How do we deal with friends and family who, as time passes, move further and further away from an earlier assumed closeness and intimacy. How do we maintain love because that is most assuredly NOT all you’re going to need. And perhaps most challenging how do we find ways to keep our friendships with longtime friends and family intact when we hear people we love and have long felt loved by, using language, and expressing opinions, thoughts, and feelings that are hurtful to us and painful for us to hear?
Many people can easily reject blatant evil, stupidity, and selfish cruelty in others when those others are in a relatively distant or short-term relationship—but what about long term connections, family and one- time close friends that feel like family? To keep growing we must continue to face our own bigotry and as we do this, we see it reflected back to us in others we have always been close to.
For me this is especially difficult when the conduct appears in small instances of unconscious racism: Using a reference to the black poker chips in a friendly, kitchen table poker game that’s been running for thirty years now as an opportunity to make a comment against Black Lives Matter, jokingly referring to a “white paper” as “bad”, according to CRT because CRT believes ALL references to “white” are bad or “evil.” When this conduct is occurring in an environment where there are no people of color or women or gay people present the commentor assumes that his sexist, misogynist, or homophobic jokes are being seen and heard as harmless. Such comments are not harmless to me.
What are the most important qualities of maintaining close friendships with people one disagrees with on many matters including politics?
In today's polarized world, it can be hard to stay friends with people who have different opinions and beliefs than you. You might feel tempted to avoid them, argue with them, or cut them off completely. But is that really the best way to deal with disagreements? I don't think so. I think there are many benefits to maintaining close friendships with people who challenge your views and perspectives. Here are some of the most important qualities that can help you do that.
Respect is the foundation of any healthy friendship. You don't have to agree with everything your friend says or does, but you should respect their right to have their own opinions and values. Respect also means listening to them without interrupting, judging, or mocking them. Unless they say something really stupid, then you can mock them a little bit. Just kidding. Or am I?
Curiosity is the fuel of learning and growth. Instead of dismissing or avoiding your friend's views, try to be curious about them. Ask them questions to understand where they are coming from, what they care about, and what they hope for. Try to learn something new from them or see things from a different angle. Curiosity can help you expand your horizons and discover new possibilities. Like how to make a tin foil hat, or how to spot a lizard person, or how to join a cult. Just kidding. Or am I?
Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else's shoes and feel what they feel. Empathy can help you bridge the gap between you and your friend and create a deeper connection. Empathy can help you see beyond the surface of their opinions and recognize the human being behind them. Empathy can help you appreciate their strengths and struggles and offer them support and compassion. Even if they are wrong about everything, they are still your friends. And friends don't let friends be wrong alone. Just kidding. Or am I?
Humor is the spice of life. Humor can help you lighten up the mood and diffuse tension when you disagree with your friend. It can help you laugh at yourself and your own biases, and not take things too seriously, and it can help you find common ground and enjoy each other's company, even when you disagree. Humor can also help you make fun of your friend's views in a playful way, without hurting their feelings. Unless they have no sense of humor, then you might hurt their feelings a lot. Just kidding. Or am I?
As you can see, these qualities can help you keep your friendships strong and healthy, even when you disagree on important issues. Because at the end of the day, it's not about who is right or wrong, it's about who is there for you when you need them.
But what about subtle, unconscious racism?
Hardly anybody but relatively toothless, idiot MAGA’s are unconcerned about being called racists. Most racists have no idea that is what they are. Racism is not always overt and intentional. Sometimes, it can be subtle and unconscious, and people may not even be aware of their own racist attitudes or behaviors. Subtle, unconscious racism can manifest in many ways.
Microaggressions are small, everyday comments or actions that convey negative or stereotypical messages about a racial group. For example, asking a person of color where they are really from, complimenting their English, or touching their hair without permission.
Implicit bias is the habit of linking certain qualities or features with a racial group, usually based on generalizations or media portrayals. For example, thinking that a Black person is sporty, a Latino person is undocumented, or an Asian person is smart.
Colorblindness is the belief that race does not matter and that everyone should be treated the same regardless of their racial identity. While this may sound good in theory, it can also ignore the realities of racial discrimination and oppression that people of color face. For example, saying that you don't see color, or that you are not racist because you have friends of different races.
Cultural appropriation: This is the adoption or use of elements from another culture without proper respect or acknowledgment. For example, wearing a Native American headdress as a costume (Lookin’ at you tomahawk-chopping, idiot-fans of teams with racist-names—redskins, savages, braves, the fighting squaws), getting a tattoo of a sacred symbol, or using a slang term that originated from a marginalized group.
Tokenism is the practice of including a token or symbolic representation of a racial group in order to appear diverse or inclusive, without actually addressing the issues or needs of that group. For example, having one person of color in a predominantly white team, organization, or media product, or using them as a spokesperson for their entire race.
These are just some examples of subtle, unconscious racism that can occur in various settings and contexts. They may seem harmless or insignificant, but they can have a cumulative and harmful impact on the mental health, self-esteem, and opportunities of people of color. Therefore, it is important to recognize and challenge these forms of racism whenever we encounter them, and to educate ourselves and others on how to be more anti-racist and ally.
How can we keep the friendship safe while confronting unconscious racist conduct in friends?
This is a question that many of us may have faced during these times of Trump and his MAGA followers. We love our friends, but sometimes they say or do things that are hurtful, insensitive, or downright racist. How do we call them out on their behavior without ruining the friendship?
It takes courage, patience, and compassion to confront someone you care about on a sensitive topic like racism. You may feel angry, frustrated, or disappointed with your friends, but you also don't want to lose them or damage the relationship. You may worry about how they will react, whether they will listen, or whether they will change. And again, in these times of Trumpian madness, most of us have experienced firsthand some of these horrific moments.
But here's the thing: if you value your friendship, and if you value social justice, you have a responsibility to speak up. Silence is complicity, and ignoring racism only allows it to continue and harm more people. By confronting your friend, you are not only standing up for yourself and others who are affected by racism, but you are also giving your friend a chance to grow and learn from their mistakes.
Accepting someone’s racism is as ugly and harmful as accepting their alcoholism, regardless of how they became a drunk.*
Silence is complicity.
So how do you do it? Here are some tips that may help:
Pick a suitable time and location. Avoid confronting your friend when they are in public, with others, or under pressure. Look for a cozy and quiet place where you can talk peacefully and politely.
Express yourself with “I” statements. Don’t call your friend racist or criticize their personality. Rather, explain how their actions affected you and why they were wrong. For instance, instead of saying “You are so racist for saying that”, say “I felt hurt and offended when you said that because it generalizes and belittles people of color”.
Give specific examples. Don't generalize or exaggerate your friend's behavior. Provide concrete and factual evidence of what they said or did that was racist. For example, instead of saying "You always make fun of Asian people", say "Last week, when we watched that movie, you made a joke about the actor's accent and eyes". Explain the impact. Don't assume that your friend knows why their behavior was racist or how it affects others. Educate them on the history and context of racism and how it manifests in everyday life. For example, instead of saying "That's not funny, that's racist", say "That joke is racist because it reinforces negative stereotypes that have been used to oppress and discriminate against Asian people for centuries". Listen and empathize. Don't interrupt or dismiss your friend's response. Give them a chance to explain their perspective and feelings. Try to understand where they are coming from and why they may have acted the way they did. For example, instead of saying "That's no excuse, you should know better", say "I understand that you didn't mean to hurt anyone, but you need to realize how your words and actions can have unintended consequences".
Finally, suggest ways to improve. Don't leave your friend feeling guilty or hopeless. Offer them constructive feedback and guidance on how they can change their behavior and become more aware and respectful of diversity. For example, instead of saying "You need to stop being racist", say "You can start by educating yourself more on the issues and experiences of people of color, listening to their voices, and challenging your own biases and assumptions". And be sure to express appreciation and support. Don't end the conversation on a negative note. Thank your friend for listening and being open to feedback. Reaffirm your friendship and your commitment to social justice. Let them know that you are there for them if they need any help or resources. For example, instead of saying "I hope you learned something today", say "I appreciate you taking the time to hear me out and I hope we can both grow from this experience. I value our friendship and I want us to be allies in the fight against racism".
Confronting unconscious racist conduct in friends is not easy, but it is necessary and worthwhile. By doing so, you are not only protecting yourself and others from harm, but you are also helping your friend become a better person and a better friend.
How to help people Change: A Guide for the Frustrated
Do you ever feel like you're banging your head against a wall when you try to get someone to change their behavior? Maybe it's your spouse who leaves their dirty socks on the floor, or your coworker who never replies to your emails, or your friend who always cancels plans at the last minute. You've tried everything: nagging, bribing, threatening, pleading, but nothing seems to work. You're ready to give up and accept that some people are just hopeless.
But wait! Don't lose hope yet. There is a way to make people change, and it doesn't involve violence, manipulation, or magic. It's called humor. Yes, humor. The secret weapon that can break through any resistance and make people see the error of their ways. Humor can make people laugh, relax, and open their minds to new possibilities. It can also help people feel good about themselves, which can motivate them to improve. Humor can even make people like you more, which can increase their willingness to cooperate with you.
So how do you use humor to make people change? Here are some tips:
Use self-deprecation. One of the best ways to make people laugh is to poke fun at yourself. This shows that you're humble, confident, and not afraid to admit your flaws. It also makes you more relatable and less threatening. For example, if you want your spouse to stop leaving their socks on the floor, you could say something like "Honey, I know I'm not perfect either. Sometimes I forget to flush the toilet, or I leave the milk out of the fridge. But at least I don't leave my socks on the floor like a savage. That's just gross."
Use exaggeration. Another way to make people laugh is to exaggerate the situation or the consequences of their behavior. This shows that you're not taking things too seriously and that you have a sense of perspective. It also makes the problem seem more ridiculous and less acceptable. For example, if you want your coworker to reply to your emails, you could say something like "Hey, I'm still waiting for your response to my email from last week. You know, the one about the project deadline that's coming up tomorrow. I hope you're not too busy saving the world or curing cancer or something."
Try irony. A third way to make people laugh is to use irony or sarcasm to point out the contradiction or absurdity of their behavior. This shows that you're smart, witty, and aware of the situation. It also makes them question their logic and reason. For example, if you want your friend to stop canceling plans at the last minute, you could say something like "Wow, you're so lucky. You always have such exciting emergencies that prevent you from hanging out with me. Like that time your cat had a hairball, or that time your grandma needed help with her crossword puzzle, or that time you had a sudden urge to watch Netflix."
Of course, humor is not a magic bullet that can solve any problem. You still need to be respectful, empathetic, and assertive when you communicate with others. You also need to be flexible and willing to compromise when necessary. And you need to be prepared for the possibility that some people may not respond well to humor or may not change at all.
But humor can be a powerful tool that can help you make people change in a positive and fun way. So next time you're feeling frustrated with someone's behavior, don't get angry or give up. Try using humor instead and see what happens.
Why we should help our friends stop being unconscious of their racism.
You might think that racism is something that only affects people who are openly hateful or discriminatory, but that's not true. Racism can also be subtle, hidden, or unintentional. It can be expressed through jokes, stereotypes, assumptions, or microaggressions. It can be influenced by the media, the education system, or the culture we live in.
But just because it's unconscious doesn't mean it's harmless. Unconscious racism can still hurt people and make them feel unwelcome or deny them opportunities. It can also prevent us from learning from each other, appreciating our differences, and building meaningful relationships.
That's why we need to help our friends stop being unconscious of their racism. We need to educate ourselves and each other about the history and impact of racism, and how it shows up in our everyday lives. We need to listen to the voices and experiences of people of color and respect their feelings and perspectives. We need to call out racism when we see it and hold ourselves and our friends accountable for our actions and words.
Helping our friends stop being unconscious of their racism is not easy, but it's necessary. It's a way of showing love and support for our friends and of creating a more just and inclusive world for everyone.