What to do if your family actually is like that ‘SNL’ sketch about Adele.
It’s Thanksgiving … during a dramatic election season … right after a string of hot-button and highly polarizing news stories have made waves here in America.
You know what that means.
Your Thanksgiving has somewhere between … oh, I’d say an 80-100% chance of featuring awkward-meets-passive-aggressive-meets-offensive remarks from loved ones this year. (Sorry.)
It’s sort of a rule of thumb that at every Thanksgiving, the two topics most people agree should not be brought up politics and religion definitely will be brought up.
Will Donald Trump Make America Great Again? Is Hillary’s email scandal really a scandal? Is Larry David a better Bernie Sanders than Bernie Sanders? Do you have to pronounce the exclamation point when you mention Jeb! Bush? You better saddle up because those questions (and so many others) will without a doubt be voiced just as Cousin Jerry passes the green bean casserole.
This Thanksgiving family phenomenon was captured brilliantly (and hilariously) by “Saturday Night Live” over the weekend.
In the sketch, just as these arguments are peaking, a politically polarized family is able to find unity around the table thanks to the magic of “Hello” by Adele (the episode’s musical guest).
As seen in the clip below, it’s hysterical. But it also begs the question: How should I respond when my family makes absurd and offensive remarks that absolutely should not go unchecked?
Well, #1, remember: They’re family. And you (probably) love them. Don’t resort to any mean-spirited name-calling you’ll regret by Black Friday. (Stay calm … take deep breaths … everything will be OK.)
And #2, be prepared. If the conversation goes there (and again, chances are it will), have the facts ready to unload. Because, as you know already, they’re on your side.
Here’s how to respond to the three outrageous remarks from the sketch that you might actually face on Thursday.
Juuust in case Thanksgiving dinner suddenly feels like a sketch comedy show.
1. “Why is it that your … friends … keep antagonizing the police?”
Oh, the good ‘ole “Are cops racist?” debate. (I can already hear Aunt Mary explaining why #AllLivesMatter amongst the clatter of cutlery on fine china.)
If you have a family member who doesn’t think racism plays a big role in our justice system and if you’re white, you probably do you can use this powerful tool we have called data to make your point.
Here’s what to use in response: Racial inequality exists in our justice system and law enforcement. No, that doesn’t mean all cops are maliciously racist. But it does mean that implicit bias subconsciously allowing stereotypes to affect our behavior does affect all of us (cops or not).
In terms of police arrests, there’s a “staggering disparity” between whites and blacks in America. As far as jail time? Black people are ordered significantly longer sentences than their white counterparts for committing the same crime and punished more severely when it comes to drug violations. All of this, compounded with the fact that black Americans are far more likely to be killed by police, sort of puts the “racism is dead” argument to bed.
So, of course, Aunt Mary, all lives matter. But because of far-reaching racial injustice throughout our society, it’s important to specifically point out that black ones do, too.
2. “I heard the refugees are all ISIS in disguise.”
OK, so Uncle Bob probably won’t say something as outrageous as all refugees are members of ISIS. But you probably will hear something along the lines of, “We can’t let ’em in because #NationalSecurity.”
Here’s what to use in response: America’s vetting process for potential refugees is multilayered and rigorous (the White House doesn’t just, you know, yell, “All aboard!” and close the door after the last person hops on an imaginary ship coming from the Middle East).
Six of the nine attackers in Paris identified so far are European nationals not Syrian refugees.
The process, which takes more than a year (or often much longer) for the average applicant to complete, is comprised of background checks, in-person interviews, and medical evaluations. The process is halted or abandoned altogether if anything remotely indicating a red flag surfaces.
And as Vox points out, it would have been (much) easier for the terrorists in Paris to enter the U.S. posing as tourists than as Syrians escaping war in their country.
Bottom line: The process to screen refugees has been thorough and effective. We shouldn’t stop helping those in need simply out of fear.
3. “There weren’t any [people who are transgender] around when I was younger.”
Nope, nope, nope.
Unfortunately, the idea that being transgender is some modern-day invention is nothing new. But it’s certainly wrong.
Here’s what to use in response: Being trans can be tough. You face higher rates of discrimination in housing and employment and are generally more at risk of violence. Sadly, our collective intolerance has resulted in an alarmingly high suicide rate among people who are transgender.
It wasn’t until pretty recently that mainstream America even began discussing these issues in any substantial way. And a lack of social awareness in generations past meant being transgender wasn’t even a thing to be cognizant of to older Americans.
“Although the word ‘transgender’ and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century,” the Human Rights Campaign explains, “people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history.”
It’s only because of relatively recent strides in visibility that more people are becoming aware of trans issues and knowingly befriending folks who are transgender.
Just because you don’t realize something exists doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
So there you have it. When life hands you ignorant remarks from family members, make fact-based arguments (in a calm voice) and put their comments in their place.
But if all else fails … there’s always Adele.
Check out the entire sketch below: