During the holidays many of us are placed in situations with people we love, who do not understand us or our friends, friends that are closer than family. We are breaking bread with people who do not understand our perspective, our religious non-belief, spiritual practices, eating habits, child rearing choices, etc. because they differ from the family norm.
When a black sheep sits down with blood relatives who say and do things that can be hurtful and insulting personally, socially or culturally, there is a sense of betrayal that hits a nerve. It's important to re-member that it is not personal and that the family member is likely responding to social and cultural conditioning rather than what is truly in their heart and spirit.
At those times the black sheep of the family is like an ambassador from another perspective. We pave the way for future black sheep folks and ease the way for our bigoted, fearful, ignorant family members to come to peace with the diverse world around them. At those times we are better off keeping our ego in check as it can lead to behavior that too closely resembles the very thing we want to eradicate from our lives and diminishes the importance of what makes us so different from the other family members.
Be yourself first. Be unapologetically yourself and know with grace and great compassion that your family is learning from you. The kinder you are when speaking from your perspective, the more likely they are to appreciate it.
Many members of many families have changed. They evolved away from bigotry, hatred, nationalism, etc- thanks to their little black sheep. When that happens it's usually over a period of many years, even decades. And it doesn't always happen. Either way, compassion is key.
In the case of Religious bigotry, it usually stems from fear. A lot of religious practices are based in fear to begin with, add to that the fear that one wont be able to practice their religion if someone else practices their different religion and the next thing you know, ridiculous stereotypes and prejudices develop into serious discrimination that can go as far as war.
In the case of inter-racial controversy, folks who do not know that race is a cultural construct, who have not researched the use and origins of racism, will often ask questions that can come across as insulting. Just realize where they are coming from and that you are like an ambassador from another perspective for them. Be as honest and clear as you can be, offer the answer, "I don't know..." when you don't and let them know someone probably can answer that question better. You may even want to steer those truly interested toward research.
I wish you the most peace and grace possible during family celebrations.
- bah bah black sheep of the family