Help me handle discrimination woe's

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-27-2003
Help me handle discrimination woe's
Wed, 09-03-2003 - 2:19pm
Hello everyone. I am in need of advice and I am hoping that someone can help me with my situation.

My husband is Hawaiian and I have some Indian background myself. Because of this my 7 year old DD has the most beautiful natural tanned skin you have ever seen! This used to really bother my DD because no matter where we would go people always made (good) comments about how beautiful her skin is and they usually ask what origin she is. She complained and hated her skin color for a long time and even wished she was whiter. I finally started telling her that I could understand it bothering her because everyone always says things to her. But that she might as well except it now because people are always going to ask about her color of skin. And if she cannot learn to except it she is going to be miserable her whole life because people are always going to comment on it. I told her that everyone including me are just jealous because we cannot have a natural tan like that. She is the lucky one!

With all that being constantly said to her she finally came to except her skin color and she even brags about it now when people comment on it. This last spring she even made fun of me because I went tanning! She said "You might be as dark as me now Mom, but at least mine is natural!" I was so happy that she has changed her attitude about it and that she likes her skin color now.

My dh's family is a dysfunctional mess! Half of them do not speak to the other half for different reasons. We have tried our best to stay out of all of it by keeping our distance from them (they all live an hour away) and staying out of any conflict that happens to be going on. My sister in law's family is the only one that ever makes it a point to come see us or call us. And the rest of the family is mad at them right now so that makes this whole thing even harder to deal with. My sister in law that comes around all the time has a very bad tamper (like the rest of the family) and if you make them mad they do not get over it.

Now here is the problem. My husbands 22 yr old niece (of the family that comes to visit us) just got a job here in town by us. She has been stopping by a couple nights a week. She is also very dark complicated like my dd. She literally talks NON STOP about how everyone discriminates against her because of her color and the fact that she is a woman. She is a welder so I can see where she would get discriminated against for that reason. It typically is a "mans" job and some men do think that way.

My husband and I have come to the conclusion that because of how the family is, we cannot talk to her about how we do not like that talk in front of our dd, because it will literally start WW3!! And because of her way of thinking, she will think that "I" am discriminating against her too. Her 15 yr old brother (my dh nephew) even quit football last year because some boy called him the "N" word. That is a bad word in our house, so I understand them being upset. But I disagree with him quitting something he loves because some people are stupid. And our niece just goes on and on about how he was discriminated against in football last year.

I feel so stuck. Even if I make sly comments she will take it wrong. My dh and I have been together for 12 years now and it took his family 6 years to accept me because I had been married before. He was too, but I had 2 kids from my first marriage. So they are all very judgmental people.

My family is not around my kids much and so I really want to her to have some sense of an extended family and his sister just happen to be the ones. And they are Hawaiian too so she has a sense of family heritage with them. If I tell my dd how unacceptable it is that our niece goes on and on about those things, my dd will repeat it to her face! (she is BAD with secrets)

So what can I do? Is there a way to be sly about this very heated matter, without starting a war? I was not raised to feel sorry for myself or to discriminate against anyone. I have been discriminated against so I know it happens and I hate it! But I do not want my daughter to think it is ok to use it as a crutch in life. Have any of you all dealt with anything like this? What positive ways do you deal with discrimination if it happens to you? I want my dd to learn to handle every situation positively without thinking that everyone is against her like our niece does. If you all made it through this thanks. Any idea's or even just your thoughts will be appreciated. Am I the only one to be bothered by this attitude from others?

Avatar for cl_2and1more
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Thu, 09-04-2003 - 10:49am
There is nothing you can do to change the family.

But you can talk to your daughter. After she has heard all these things ask her (in private) how she feels about what was said. Does she feel that way sometimes too? Does think think it is right to use it as a crutch and complain about it so much.

Let her talk and find her own way though life.


Avatar for stacy257
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-06-2003
Fri, 09-05-2003 - 10:30am
Wow. This is complicated. I think that the bottom line is self esteem. People need to feel good about themselves. Seems that you were doing a good job in building confidence in your daughter until the negative one came around. The only way to fight discrimination is through education and enlightenment. I would try to get my daughter involved in multi-cultural activities that introduce her to all types of people. She needs positive reinforcement. That way, you don't have to be the bad guy in keeping her away from the negative influence of the other relative because she will be able to stand up for herself and her principles. We are all human! That's the only race. And if she is around different people, she can build the confidence to counter discriminatory behavior with her own personal experiences with great people who just happen to be different. Ditto with your 15 year old. He needs to be around all kinds of people so he can see we are all the same. Good luck!