By Duke Staff
With the semester winding down and break just around the corner, a reprieve from the stresses of the world is tantalizingly within reach. A few weeks to relax, recoup and restart is just what winter break calls for.
That is, until your relatives show up.
Because let’s be real: Not every one of them is perfect. Whether it’s the casual sexism of grandpa or the overt racism of Uncle Phil, something almost always comes up to remind you of why you keep your interactions with the extended family to a minimum.
We’re here to tell you, however, that no matter how uncomfortable that conversation might be, it may be worth having. It may seem like conventional wisdom to avoid any and all political discourse, but that is not always true.
Sometimes, you need to call someone out on their bigotry because they may end up harming themselves or others over it. Their ignorance may lead them to support dangerous politicians or to believe in policies that don’t work or put people at risk. So you shouldn’t always turn away when your cousin spouts off the latest thing they heard from the far-right blogosphere. Sometimes, you need to say, “Actually, Jimmy, can you prove what you said with verifiable facts?”
Having these conversations is never easy, so to help sooth the pain of confronting the ignorance of your relatives, The Duke would like to suggest two things: Be patient, and be curious.
Sometimes, your relatives are just going to say some outright hateful things, and as much as that is not OK, getting angry back is not the best option. More often than not, that will only convince the other side that they are right to say and believe what they do, so instead, try to politely question them. The Socratic method of whittling down bigoted arguments is a fantastic way to not only get your ideological opponent to question what they believe but to do so safely and without any blame.
But we are not ignorant to the reality a lot of students face. Arguing politics is a privilege; there are simply those who cannot, for whatever reason, risk getting into major fights with their families because of their personal safety. We understand that, so we by no means encourage those who would be risking abuse or neglect to pick fights with their families.
Of course, there are less important reasons not to get into a fight with your relatives. You know your family better than anyone, and if they are not going to be convinced by facts and what is true, then don’t bother.
So for those cases, here are some suggestions to help steer your relatives away from politics and into a safer, much more manageable space:
Animal Crossing — Did you know that a new Animal Crossing game came out for mobile? No? Well look it up and the share the fact with everyone at your holiday get-togethers.
Nap it off — Nothing beats escaping uncomfortable conversation like peacing out and falling into a brief food coma.
Compliments — Things getting heated? Try shifting everyone’s thoughts to the present by talking about how delicious the food is.
Duquesne — Your relatives love to hear about what you’re, so if you need a quick out, bring up an interesting class you took or a book they should read — so long as it’s not political.