Author Topic: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language  (Read 9237 times)

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Daffodil

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http://www.slate.com/articles/life/dear_prudence/2011/11/help_my_sister_in_law_breast_feeds_her_5_year_old_in_public.html

It's the second letter titled "When Grandpa Says the _____ Word"

Basically they were having a family get together at Grandpa's home and Grandpa kept using racial and sexual slurs during conversation. Eventually, Granddaughter, who is college-aged, called him out on it saying that she feels those words are offensive and when he uses them, he sounds ignorant and bigoted. Grandpa kicked her out of the house, half the family leaves with them, other half stays, family drama ensues.

Prudie suggests Granddaughter apologizes and allows Grandpa to save face.

Now, I think that the Granddaughter was fine in calling him out, as she seemed to be saying what everyone else was thinking. Of course, Grandpa holds the right to kick her out of his home, though, as its his property. Etiquette-wise, though, even though the could have possibly made her wording a little more gentle, I don't really feel the Granddaughter did anything egregiously wrong.

Of course in the comment section, a lot feel this way as well but there are a few who feel that the Granddaughter was out of line and should have kept her mouth closed, entirely.

Thoughts ?

MaggieB

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2011, 04:44:27 AM »
I'm kind of torn on this, but I do think the granddaughter handled the situation badly. 

My guess is that Grandpa did not suddenly start using this language out of the blue during this gathering.  He's probably been doing it for as long as his family can remember.  And no one appeared to have a problem with it until his granddaughter starts publicly and heatedly telling him he sounds ignorant and bigoted.  That's going to make anyone defensive.  I'm not excusing the grandfather.  But I can't imagine anyone thinking this would be an effective way to deal with the language.

Since the whole family seems to be in agreement that the language in offensive, I think it would have been so much better to have one (or all) of his adult children address it with him privately.  Or if the granddaughter felt she needed to say something, she could have done it before accepting the invitation.  She might have gotten a lot farther by calling him up and saying "Grandpa, I'm having a hard time here because I'd really like to come to the family gathering and see you, but you use these words that I just can't be around." Or something like that.

I guess I just don't see getting together with someone who you know consistently uses racist language and then yelling at him when he's just doing what he's always done.  If preserving the relationship is important, there are much better approaches.  Prudie advised her to apologize for the outburst while standing behind her objection to the language, which I do think is good advice in this case.

RandomAngel

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2011, 06:40:07 AM »
I actually thought that the granddaughter's wording was great. She didn't soft-pedal by pretending that she was the one with the problem, which "It bothers me to hear those words," etc. can sound like. But she also didn't insult her grandfather by saying, "If you use these words you're a horrible person." Instead, she informed him of how the language he chooses makes him sound, especially to people who may not know him well.

Her mistake, in my opinion, was in saying what she did in public. It would have been a real service to her grandfather to get it across to him that his language is widely considered unacceptable today--what is and isn't acceptable changes over time, and not everyone is good at keeping track. Instead, she called him out in front of his family, and so the odds that he would hear and internalize her advice plummeted. He probably felt, in fact, like she was trying to incite the family to gang up on him, and I don't blame him one bit for throwing her out.

I'll give her part score--it's a shame she didn't put as much thought into when she spoke up as into how.

O'Dell

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2011, 11:45:58 AM »
I think she had every right to voice her objections to grandpa, but the way she went about do it was rude. I think she should apologize for her rudeness. Make it clear that she stands by her opinion, but she's sorry for the way she went about voicing it.
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immadz

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2011, 11:51:07 AM »
I do not think the grand daughter was the slightest bit rude and she shouldn't have to apologize. Of course, I would also say that grand dad does not have to let her back into his house.


Seven Ate Nine

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2011, 12:03:26 PM »
I have to wonder if this is an issue that the whole family had discussed and "decided" not to "rock the boat."  Since the whole family seems to be in agreement that the language was inappropriate, it may be an issue where one person decided to be the spokesperson for the group. 

Especially if the above is true, I would disagree that she outed him in "public" as it sounds like the gathering was strictly family.  I also agree that she doesn't have to apologize, and he doesn't have to let her back into the house.

O'Dell

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2011, 12:12:10 PM »
I have to wonder if this is an issue that the whole family had discussed and "decided" not to "rock the boat."  Since the whole family seems to be in agreement that the language was inappropriate, it may be an issue where one person decided to be the spokesperson for the group. 

Especially if the above is true, I would disagree that she outed him in "public" as it sounds like the gathering was strictly family.  I also agree that she doesn't have to apologize, and he doesn't have to let her back into the house.

I don't think that the gathering being family makes it acceptable. "Praise in public, Punish in Private" is something I apply to strangers and family alike. It's not cool to chastise someone in front of others if it can be avoided.
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Fleur-de-Lis

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2011, 12:18:29 PM »
I think Granddaughter should decide whether she really wants to keep company with someone who uses that language.  That he is family may give her more room to grit her teeth and not allow that topic to come up when she is speaking with him, but does not have to.

There is no reason for her to return to the house.  If Grandfather or any of the rest of the family who stayed want her company, they can visit her on her terms.  And if Grandfather wants to salvage any kind of relationship, he can apologize.
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Garden Goblin

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2011, 12:32:24 PM »

I don't think that the gathering being family makes it acceptable. "Praise in public, Punish in Private" is something I apply to strangers and family alike. It's not cool to chastise someone in front of others if it can be avoided.

Unfortunately, this is often the kind of thing you have to say in front of a witness, for your own 'safety' as much as anything else.  This way, people know what she actually said, so you don't have to deal with grandpa saying 'she called me jerk!' or whatever, and there is the possibility that other family members are reasonable and will back you.

He owes her an apology.  As does the rest of her family.

Daffodil

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2011, 12:36:11 PM »

I don't think that the gathering being family makes it acceptable. "Praise in public, Punish in Private" is something I apply to strangers and family alike. It's not cool to chastise someone in front of others if it can be avoided.

Unfortunately, this is often the kind of thing you have to say in front of a witness, for your own 'safety' as much as anything else.  This way, people know what she actually said, so you don't have to deal with grandpa saying 'she called me jerk!' or whatever, and there is the possibility that other family members are reasonable and will back you.

He owes her an apology.  As does the rest of her family.

My thoughts as well.

I think granddaughter should really limit her time with him, but I feel that she said something that needed to be said. As I said earlier, GP was well within his rights to tell her to get out, but I think he owes her an apology more than she would owe him .

hobish

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2011, 02:21:56 PM »
I do not think the grand daughter was the slightest bit rude and she shouldn't have to apologize. Of course, I would also say that grand dad does not have to let her back into his house.


I don’t think calling out your host on their language at dinner is ever appropriate. I don’t care if he was making racist political comments while picking his nose. It’s just not done. If she needed a third party there “for her protection” surely there is a better time and place than dinner at Grandma and Grandpa’s house with the whole family present.

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Two Ravens

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2011, 02:32:18 PM »
I think its rude to go into someone's house and insult them.  This was not "new" behavior for GPa, and the daughter in this case is an adult. You either 1. Don't Go, or 2. Leave when GPa becomes offensive.

She apparently felt the need to "make a statement" and disrupt a family gathering.

jmarvellous

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2011, 02:53:28 PM »
My grandfather used racist terms against anyone who was not a white-skinned Jew. And sexist/heterosexist terms against anyone who was not a straight man.

As a kid, knowing I'd have to deal with widespread fallout if I commented, I merely excused myself or changed the subject whenever he got started. But you can bet that if I were an adult and he hadn't already died (and gone thoroughly senile before that), I'd be acting very much like this granddaughter -- particularly as I know that some people (at least those who almost certainly know the language they're using is no longer appropriate, if it ever was) will ONLY change their ways if presented with the issue in front of others. They often get pleasure out of derision (racism!) and mockery in many forms and will continue to use this language to rub it in the face of those who address the issues with them privately (see also: my father).

I support her actions and think "good riddance" is the best response from here on out, but wish her luck if she wants to attempt peacemaking. I have my doubts about the flexibility of a person who has held on so long to outdated, offensive ways, though -- I just hope the rest of the family eventually sides with her.

jimithing

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2011, 03:13:28 PM »
I was at a wedding a couple of weekends ago, for one of my husband's family. We were seated at a table with my FIL and his two sisters, my husband's aunts, and for some reason, the topic came up of one of the recently divorced aunts dating a black man. The other aunt said that their mother, who passed away almost 10 years ago would "roll over in her grave."

The discussion then talked about how racist she was, how she used the N word all the time, and why no one would say anything. And it was basically the exact same situation. She was the matriarch, no one wanted to offend her or rock the boat, but they all regret it now.

I think the Granddaughter did the right thing, but I also agree with Prudie that she did herself no favors by calling him an ignorant bigot.

immadz

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Re: Dear Prudence : Granddaughter calling out Grandpa on Racist Language
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2011, 03:30:12 PM »
I do not think it is rude or insulting to point out hateful language. Being a host does not mean you get to spout vile hateful things and your guests are a captive audience to it. Also the grand daughter did not call her grandfather an ignorant bigot, she said the language he was using made him sound ignorant and bigoted.