Mom is racist and jumps to conclusions about my new partner

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    I recently introduced my wonderful partner of 7 months to my parents. Prior to meeting him, my mum wasn’t interested in finding out his name,  and only cared about his job, income, whether he had been married before. Rather than being happy to see the happy photo I showed her of us, she commented that he was “so dark” (he’s Latino, I’m Asian). The following week she said to me that my uncle can introduce me to a man who works as a lawyer, if I wanted. I told my mum, if she keeps talking to me like this when she knows I have a partner, I don’t want to speak to her anymore. She told me not to be upset and that she wouldn’t disapprove of my partner.

    Today, she called me, in exasperation, telling me that presents shouldn’t be given if they have been used. I was very confused. Turns out, the expensive branded chocolate my partner got my mom for her birthday was only half filled, due to a mistake by the store assistant. However, I felt so upset and hurt by her first assumption and panic that I had chosen to be with a man who would give her half eaten, beautifully packaged chocolate as her birthday gift. She jumped to worst conclusions.

    I’ve had a rocky relationship with my mum since childhood (which is too long to go into here), our relationship has gotten better in the last years, however, since dating a “darker” skinned man, it’s brought out sides of her which hurt me so deeply. She apologised but keeps holding her prejudices.


    I haven’t told my partner because I don’t want to create a wedge between him and my family. We have a family dinner this weekend to celebrate my grandmas birthday, but I’m torn between deciding whether to go or not. I know my grandma can be racist and always comments when someone’s skin is “so black” or tanned – or looks “dirty”. I’m so disappointed when I hear and see this ignorant behaviour, especially hurtful because it’s my family and I value family and being there for family. I don’t want to go out of fear of this happening; I don’t want my partner to know because I fear hurtling him or making him feel uncomfortable around my family, but holding it all in to myself affects my mental health too. I don’t like hiding this from my partner either. I’m getting sick of protecting my family, of trying to keep the peace but I feel it’s the best thing to do. I don’t know what is the best way forward…


    Hi Everglow

    Congratulations on meeting a wonderful partner! I’m sorry to hear that your mother is being racist and that you’re worried about how your grandmother will react too.

    My husband is black and I’m white. We’ve experienced racism from both sides of our family.

    It might be a good idea to talk to your partner about the possibility of racism and how you would like to deal with it together. My husband and I chose to support each other and shut it down when it occurred.

    Older generations can have old fashioned unhealthy ideas. Setting firm boundaries that we weren’t going to accept the behaviours both sides of our family responded to.

    If your partner is warned about the possibility of racism he won’t be surprised if it does happen and will be pleasantly surprised if it doesn’t.

    Do you think there would be any difficulties if you stood up to your family about this?


    Hi Helcat,

    Thanks for your reply. It’s nice to hear that I’m not alone in going through this. How wonderful to hear the unfortunate experience of racism brought you and your husband closer together to support each other and approach the issue as a team.

    I think you’re right, I’d like to approach this as a team with my partner too, and see how he feels about this.

    I think my family may feel potentially betrayed if I relayed some of their racist remarks to him (they say these things in their native tongue or when he’s not present), however, I don’t want to condone this kind of behaviour, for them to think it’s ok to say it in front of me. I will definitely tell them it’s not ok to speak or think like this, however, they would likely think I’m taking it too seriously or that their comments are not a big deal because they’re not saying it directly to him.

    I think the main takeaway for me is to bring my partner in on this so we can approach it as a team; I don’t want to hide why I’m sad sometimes from him anymore. It’s an isolating feeling. And go from there, thanks again!





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