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Argue About Current Events with Your Uncle on Christmas

Sometime around the third cup of sangria on Christmas Day last year, my uncle started to vomit up “facts” that he probably heard on Fox News regarding a recent issue of police brutality. Namely, he brought up Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was playing with a toy pellet gun on a playground, where he was shot and killed by officer Timothy Loehmann. My uncle mumbled something sympathetic about the officer, and how Rice shouldn’t have been unsupervised. It made me angry, and I was just tipsy enough to point out some of the flaws in his logic—gently, partly because he’s family, but mainly because I don’t think yelling is productive—at which point he puffed himself up, wagged his finger in my face, and raised his voice at me and said, “he had a GUN.” I was pretty pissed (and sad) that he reacted like that when I hadn’t said anything crazy, and I decided to leave the room. He was reacting the way white people tend to when we are called out (even calmly, or carefully) for doing or saying something ignorant and racist, for upholding white supremacy. We have to fight that in ourselves, and we should call out other white people when they do or say fucked-up shit. Because when we ignore it we are complicit. And, no, in all likelihood you won’t change your racist uncle’s mind. And no, the holidays aren’t a good time for this. But if your family’s like mine, you’re getting drunk on Christmas so that you can stand to be around each other anyway, so you can’t do too much more damage by sticking up for what’s right. (Rebekah Kirkman)

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