The Giz Guide to Avoiding Grandma's Racism This Christmas

By Tom Pritchard on at

Christmas is one of thew few times where the entire family gets together in one place, unable to get out of each others' hair for at least three days because everything shuts down. In all likelihood you're going to be spending a lot of time around your relatives, and some of them might be of the elderly persuasion.

The problem there is that there's a general attitude that old people have a tendency to be racist - especially grandma. Whether it's down to a lack of filter, coming from a different time, or because they're actually hardcore racists. I know from experience that it's not fun, particularly when they're alone in their views. So to help everyone get through the Christmas period unscathed, here's our guide to help you avoid racism from your elderly relatives.

What to Do

Avoid the Person

The less time you spend with your grandma, the less likely you are to end up on the receiving end of some sort of racist rant and/or comment. It's not so easy if you happen to be in the same house over Christmas, but you can still get away with just leaving the room at the first sign of trouble. Or you could go to an extreme and do what my family does with one half of the family: arrive late on Christmas Eve and leave early on Boxing Day.

Avoid Sensitive Topics Like the Plague

If avoiding conversation isn't an option for you, then you can always make sure to steer clear of any sensitive topics that are likely to set them off. Politics, Europe, crime, things like that. Anything race-related is best avoided as well, since that's a guaranteed way to (at the very least) hear a few uncomfortable remarks. Unless race means athletics, in which case go right ahead.

The more volatile the relative, the more vigilant you have to be. Know their moods and personal eccentricities, and you should come out of Christmas unscathed.

Don't Let the Conversation Die Down

If you let the conversation lul, even for a very small period, dear old gran might decide to try and deal with the awkward silence in her own special way. You know, by moaning about anti-Brexit sentiment and making everything even more awkward. So make sure to drown out that silence in anyway you can. Got kids of your own? Exploit that and keep talking about them. Got a new job? Use that. Hell, sing Christmas songs if you think it'll work.

Kill Any Dangerous Conversations Quickly

Sometimes you can do as much avoidance as you like, grandma will still want to have a little whinge about people who are a bit different. That's when you have to move onto damage control and kill the conversation before it becomes a self-sustaining family-encompassing battle royale. Thinking on the spot isn't easy, so it pays to be prepared. This gem comes from Rich Stanton, editor of our sister site Kotaku UK:

When she tries to say that "all lives matter" ask if the life of a paedophile matters. This will bamboozle the rickety moral compass of your average Daily Mail reader for long enough you can go and make a cup of tea to calm down. She'll be ready to talk about chemical castration in around ten minutes or so, which is at least a more pleasant topic than systemic racism.

If All That fails

You can try and try to avoid the bad stuff, but sometimes it's just not possible. Grandma has the overwhelming urge to say racist things, and damn if you're going to stop her. So here are a few suggestions on what you should do.

Be Blunt

Tell grandma that you won't stand any of her EDL-inspired conversation. It's not likely to be that effective, but stand firm and it might get here to shut her mouth for a few hours.

Image: ann-dabney/Flickr

Racist Grandma Bingo

If you've ever seen our Apple night coverage, you'll know that we have our bingo cards to cross off the various tropes of the evening. So set up a bingo card for the evening to try and gamify the Daily Mail/Express-fuelled tirades. Either have one big bingo card that everyone has a stake in, or make multiple cards and hand out prizes to people as they fill out the card. Just try not to go for racist gifts, like gollywogs or an old Black & Minstrel DVD box set.

What not to do

Give in, and Have a Row

If your grandma is anything like mine, this is exactly what she wants and it'll only ever end in tears. Or at least it does in my family. We're all pretty sure she does it on purpose, since she's set off by the tiniest little things.

Even if there isn't an agenda, and it's just a classic case of old fashioned grandma racism, fighting isn't going to solve anything. Especially not when you throw osteoporosis into the mix.

Featured image: That racist old lady from Blazing Saddles