Racist neighbors

What would you do?

We have a 12 yo girl. Neighbors across the street have 3 girls 11, 13, 14. We’ve known them for 6 years, the girls play together all the time. Awesome people. They are Indian. Dad is Hindu, Mom is Muslim, girls are being raised Muslim. It’s never been an issue. I’m heathen, stepdaughter and her dad are Christian. No one cares, we are all just respectful and nice.

Last year, a new family moved in a couple doors down. Super-Christian. They have 5 kids, their oldest is a girl 13, I’ll call her Jane. A nice girl, very sweet. But – the mom is openly racist in front of her kids. Jane has told our neighbor girls that “my mom doesn’t like your mom - because you’re all Muslim”, "my mom doesn’t want me to play with you … " etc.

What would you do? My neighbor, being the way bigger person than I am, is of the “kill them with kindness” mindset. I am not so tolerant. But I also don’t want to be hurtful to Jane - who just wants to play.

Do I say something? What? And to whom? My neighbor knows how I feel - but is that enough? I feel like I should be standing up more adamantly to this woman - but she of course doesn’t say these things directly to me or to my neighbor. ???

I’m not sure there is much you can do. Maybe invite both families to a backyard barbecue or something.

We’ve done that. Included more than just the two families. And the girls all mingle. The moms just avoid each other. I avoid the wacko mom too.

I’ve told my stepdaughter (SD) that if she sees or hears Jane being unkind to anyone, she must speak up.

Jane, to my knowledge, hasn’t been directly unkind. She’s just TMI-ing because she’s a kid and doesn’t know better. (She’s 13 but she’s a bit delayed maturity-wise)

Hang a blm flag.

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Sounds like you’re handling it well enough. Perhaps discourage activities that have just SD and Jane, even if the other girls aren’t explicitly being excluded.

It’s just so disheartening. This is the nicest family you could ever hope to meet.

I really want to say something to wacko mom. But I don’t know what would be appropriate. I can’t think of a socially acceptable way to say “stop being such a racist bitch!”

Yeah. There’s not much else you can do. Make sure your daughter is prepared to deal with the situation (it sounds like she probably is). Be the best friend you. can to the one mother, and maybe try to be a friend to the other. That’s the only way that you might be able to confront her effectively. Trying to do so now may well make the situation worse.

It sounds like it sucks, but you are handling it as well as can be expected.

Can I say something to wacko mom like:

Is everything ok? I’m hearing from the girls that Jane is uncomfortable playing with SD and the Neighbor Girls. Are you taking extra Covid precautions? We want to be respectful of that …

Just to see what she says.
Or is that too obvious and a bad idea?

What response could help the situation? Best case: wacko makes a racist response (not good, but inevitable, based on your description), which gives you the opportunity to say something nice about the girls and or the family. But would that do any good? More likely, it ends up with you saying something more confrontational or directly critical of her.

Next time you see Jane, or when your kid plays with her, tell her it’s okay to be friends with Muslims, and that her mom is wrong and should feel bad about it.

Kids listen to their friends, not their parents. So your kid has a much bigger influence on Jane than Jane’s mom, as long as Jane see your kid as a friend.

Good points.
Yes, a racist response from wacko mom, or a denial, would probably lead me to say something like: Well, the Neighbor family is one of the nicest families you could ever hope to meet. We are very lucky to have such great neighbors. But knowing me, I could also pop off and say something not helpful at all.

That’s a great point about the other girls having more influence than wacko mom. I’m going to keep talking about this with SD and try to give her some ideas about things she can say.

What are your goals?
To nudge mom to be less racist?
To try to keep Jane from being as racist as her mom?
To make your neighbor lady comfortable?
To make your neighbor kids comfortable?
To keep your kids from becoming racist?
To shame the racists?

Saying anything is a bad idea if your goals are anything other than the last. People dig in when they are attacked. That’s human nature.

Nudging the mom to be less racist is probably not realistic. But the other goals seem achievable.

Encourage your daughter to play with both girls. (Covid precautions allowing.) Be a good friend to the Muslim lady. (Hindu? Whatever.) If you are with the girls, praise the Muslim girls and praise Jane when they do nice things, or succeed at something, or whenever it makes sense to do so. The goal is both to show Jane that the Muslim girls are nice and valuable people, and also to make her feel good hanging out with you, your kids, and the Muslim kids. If she becomes friendly with them, Jane is likely to reject her mother’s prejudice.

In short, yes, kill them with kindness. Your neighbor is right.

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I mean, if the mom says something explicitly racist in front of you, sure, disagree. Give her a withering look. But try to avoid situations where that would even come up. Try to make a safe, happy space for Jane and the Muslim girls.

Thanks Lucy, that was really helpful.

I think my biggest goal is to teach SD how and when to stand up for what’s right - that we stand up for our friends and we don’t let others treat them unkindly. But I don’t want to screw that up! :rofl:

If the effects of that are that Jane learns that Neighbor Girls are nice, and that maybe her mom is wrong, I guess that would be good. But I don’t hold out hope that mom will become less wacko. (she’s a QAnon-er :roll_eyes: )

I agree with the kill them with kindness approach. Living a positive, loving, consistent, principled life will do more to dissipate the negative effect of the racist neighbor than a confrontation. Initiating a confrontation validates her position, if she confronts you defend your position, other than that leave her to stew in her negativity. One word of caution, if she is newer to the neighborhood keep an eye out if she starts going for leadership positions within the community/school.

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Yeah she’s a home-schooler too.

Although they have Jane in public school I think with an IEP.

I don’t know if Jane is adopted. Her other 4 kids are. Two sets of siblings. One set of siblings have hearing loss and they go to a special school for the deaf. One of the other kids is home schooled and his bio brother adopted about a year ago is a baby yet.

I don’t see her getting too involved with local politics or the schools. I also think she knows she’s outnumbered in our neighborhood.

Is your assessment of “openly racist” based on what you’ve heard from Jane? Or have you actually seen it?

My experience is that kids have a tendency to respond to parental advice in odd ways. Even more so if Jane has any sort of cognitive issues (e.g., happens to be on the autism spectrum). It could be that “wacko mom” simply intended to tell Jane to be careful about learning something from the Muslim family and Jane took it to mean that her mom “doesn’t like them,” etc.

A bunch of my neighbours are homophobes. I just troll the hell out of them. Generally repeating back their bullshit with a slight twist.

Them ‘i heard so and so is gay’ like it’s a matter for conversation.

Me some months later when they mention their brother ’ I heard they’re gay. Like, I don’t know,that’s just what I heard.'.

It doesn’t fix anything, but it’s good for a laugh.

Tldr you can’t fix stupid.

I have not actually heard wacko-mom say anything.

Neighbor-mom said that Jane said to Neighbor girls: “My mom doesn’t want me to play with you bc you’re Muslim”. And SD confirmed that she heard Jane say this.

But SD also said that Jane followed it up with “but I don’t care. I’m playing anyway”

So maybe the comments above about peers having more influence than parents is legit. I did have another convo with SD about the importance of speaking up when she witnesses things like this.

SD is pretty good about recognizing that if you don’t want to play with one of her friends, she’ll ditch you before them. So that’s good.