Bad Advice: Breaking the Racial Tension

BY: Anna Breslaw


My sister is currently in an interracial relationship (she’s white/Jewish, the guy is VERY NICE but black) and I know my parents are upset but refuse to talk to her lest they be labeled racist. It’s creating a lot of tension. Should I talk to her? To the guy? To my parents?



“Yo,” Matt.

“What up?” See how natural that is? It is important to greet your sister’s VERY NICE boyfriend in a way that makes him comfortable, and let him know how much you liked “The Wire.” Draw on some talking points you guys have in common: ‘fros, historical oppression, a healthy love of marijuana, Drake, etc.

Make jokes to break the ice, like how he and your sister should invent a new position during intercourse and call it the Crown Heights Sex Riot.

If the racial issue is still making everyone tense, round up your whole family, plus your sister’s boyfriend, for a screening of the seminal 1998 film “Save The Last Dance.” It is important to show everyone involved that white people are sensitive to the issues of black people, especially when the black people are there to help the white people. For noshing, provide chitlins. (Google “chitlins.”)

Distribute comment cards after the film that include a wide variety of questions like “Do you think all black people are addicted to drugs?” and “Do you think all black people deal drugs?” When your sister’s boyfriend stands up incredulously, goes “Fuck this, I have a dissertation to write,” and heads for the door, offer him conciliatory drugs.

Good luck!


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About The Author

Anna Breslaw

Anna Breslaw’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency and other places. She lives in New York.

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