Guess Who I’m Bringing to Holiday Dinner
By Eunice Makunzva, NCC
The holidays are coming, and so are the family gatherings. You want to bring your partner and show them off to your family because new and old relationships are a wonderful thing and your partner makes you happy. Maybe you’ve brought other partners home for the holidays, but this time it’s different—you’re in an interracial relationship. You’re anxious because you’re not so sure how they’ll react to your partner and if they’ll accept your relationship. Here are 5 tips to help you bridge the gap or simply get through the holidays:
1.Make sure your partner feels safe to be themselves. This is crucial! Check in when your Uncle Robert begins to talk about how he thinks black-on-black crimes is a real problem, unlike policy brutality, or when your father asks your new boyfriend if he came to America legally even though you’ve told him multiple times that your boyfriend was born in Minnesota. Make sure that your partner feels safe to continue the celebration.
2.Tell your family ahead of time. This might seem like a no-brainer but sometimes people avoid discussing what they think might be an uncomfortable situation. But telling your family ahead of time that you are in an interracial relationship beforehand can ease any tension or surprise the day of. If your partner does not celebrate Christmas because they practice a different religion, mention it to your family.
3.Talk about the elephant in the room. On the day of, when you start to feel as though things are tense because your family isn’t welcoming to your partner because of their race, talk about it. This gives the opportunity to have a constructive topic about race.
4.Play family jeopardy before heading in. Give your partner a run-down of who is who: who to engage with, topics to avoid, and any family traditions. Help your partner to prepare what to expect and with whom. Identify safe people for your partner to talk to throughout the night- these people should be accepting who your partner is. Let your partner know if there are specific cultural greetings and prayers. If you have family that doesn’t speak English, be willing to translate and introduce your partner to them. The knowledge will be comforting for them and helpful in navigating the night.
5.Explain your holiday traditions. If your family celebrates unique cultural traditions, superstitions, and food, explain what to expect and what rituals need to be performed and which are optional. Involving your partner will make their experience more memorable