Culture clash within the family


Christopher Vega/The Lion's Roar

With the values and beliefs of society becoming more diverse each and every day, this leads to an inevitable situation in one’s own home: dealing with intolerant family members. The racist grandmother, the homophobic father, the sexist uncle.

Many individuals face their own sort of prejudices, whether it is intentional or unintentional. When it comes to my personal experience, I still find myself struggling on a constant basis on how to cope with my family’s prejudices. The truth is that there is no single solution to dealing with bigotry.

Growing up, I often found myself as an outsider. When I was younger, I was adopted from Guatemala and introduced into a very conservative, Caucasian lifestyle in southern Louisiana. This often led to uncomfortable situations when my family and I would spend time with one another.

One evening during supper, my father was talking about national holidays and cultures that we celebrate. He questioned the values of colored people and why we, as Americans, should have to honor these foreign people with their immoral beliefs. While I knew he wasn’t talking directly to me, I felt oppressed within my own home as my native country shared different customs from what was traditional in my father’s eyes.

As I got older and my confidence level rose, I made it a point to begin dealing with all my bigoted family members when necessary. For instance, when my uncle placed a confederate flag in his yard, I chose to speak directly to him about my concern with what he was doing. I expressed to him how while it is acceptable to believe what you choose to, it is not right to shove it in people’s faces as they drive or pass by his house. This act of personal disdain against other’s views leads to unwarranted hate crimes and violence.

Another example is when my family began questioning the morphing sexual relationships and orientations of society. Both my mother and father were raised with a traditional mindset, and any person who is accustomed to their own views would have a hard time accepting change. In order to get through to them in the past, I have tried discussing with them the importance of equality using their personal language and beliefs, such as Bible verses in Leviticus on judging one’s neighbor.

One tactic to remember is to never get in an overly-heated argument with family members. There will be times when a specific relative will not change his or her point of view no matter how much support you have on your side. It is important to make it a point to let them know they are hurting your feelings, but you should not waste time arguing for the sake of arguing with them.

What I find extremely helpful is to remember that these same bigoted individuals are still members of your own family. This means that it is important to voice your opinion, which is a part of your life, no matter how different your views are from your relatives’ who are also a part of your life. You have the right to say what you need to say, and they must decide if losing you is more important than holding true to their beliefs.

Johnathan Zaringue – Staff Reporter