Out in the Open

From 'Auntie Feel Good' to 'Racist-Ass Uncle': Navigating prejudice over turkey dinner

Justin C. Cohen thinks you need to be willing to alienate yourself over the holidays if you’re going to fight your family's race issues.

Justin C. Cohen thinks you need to be willing to alienate yourself in order to fight your family's race issues

Conversations about race over turkey dinner will inevitably end up looking like this. (Bohemian Dolls)

Many of us have been there: You go home for the holidays, catch up with extended family, then all of a sudden someone drops a racist quip like it's no big thing.

Justin C. Cohen thinks you need to be willing to alienate yourself over the holidays if you're going to fight your family's race issues, however innocuous they seem.

The writer and activist describes some of the characters you might encounter at your family holiday gathering, like your cousin Wokey McWokerson, sure to be the "first person to speak up and the last person to shut up about just how woke they are."

Auntie Feel Good might show up to let you know about the "brilliant tapestry of different races and religions and that we all are equal in the eyes of the great spirit or god or whoever she worships." Cohen warns you should beware of the appealing nature of Auntie Feel Good because, as he puts it, the race-free world she imagines "only exists for white people."

Then, there's your Racist-Ass Uncle. "Everyone is afraid to stand up to him so his opinions always are the loudest," says Cohen. He warns that you'll never change his mind but it's up to you to ensure he doesn't hold too much influence over the other people siting around the table.

This story originally aired on December 17, 2016. It appears in the Out in the Open episode "Holiday Survival Guide".


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