For some people, it can be hard to talk to parents about race. Especially because at a certain point things tend to get heated because they raised you but they’re very obviously wrong, so you just turn into a little teacup that gets put in the cupboard. It’s important to talk to other white people about race, and that includes your racist parents. Here’s how to do it without ending up in a stack of little cups.
If you get angry, so will they, and also you will turn into a little teacup. Don’t give them an excuse to go on the defensive and ignore everything you’re saying as they push you to the back of the cupboard.
Stay Away From Trigger Words
It’s a good idea to stay away from words your parents might find hurtful, like “racism” and “bigotry”. If you tell your parents they’re being racist, they will become angry and condescending, and then you will turn into a tiny teacup and they’ll put you away in the cupboard for awhile. So try to find a soft way to open the conversation by explaining some stats on police brutality, or the historical context of Colin Kaepernick’s actions. Centering the humanity of the people involved steers the conversation away from your parents, and their perception of being attacked, and it also takes the pressure off of you to turn into a little teacup.
Take Your Time
Getting your parents to understand where you’re coming from in your concerns about racism may take a lot longer than one conversation. So bow out of the conversation if you feel you’re about to turn into a little teacup that will soon be put away. You can always resume this discussion later when you’re feeling less fragile and ceramic and hidden in an old cabinet.
Validate Their Feelings
One way that will alleviate some pressure on your parents is if you acknowledge that yes, their lives haven’t been perfect, either. Their displaced frustration toward immigrant communities may be misdirected, but their financial difficulties are real. Try to lessen tensions by acknowledging their struggles so that you can continue the conversation without turning into a tiny cup that needs tidying up.
Consider Talking to Other Family Members Instead
Unfortunately, your parents might be a lost cause and at this point it may be impossible to change their worldview or their impulse to grab you by the porcelain handle and shoo you into the cupboard. Even if you are turning into a little teacup, don’t give up! There may be people you can have this conversation with without so much emotional baggage on both ends.
It’s easy to want to avoid the race discussion with your parents or to just turn into a little teacup the second race comes up, but these are hard conversations we need to be having. Take heart, and try these tactics to not turn into teaware.