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Leibee: You have a responsibility to stand up to your family

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

There is a generational difference between us, our parents and our grandparents. The holidays might be a time when we notice these differences because of things our family members say. As my colleague Kenia Ortiz said in January in her column “It’s okay to not want to go home in college,” many students feel their values and beliefs drifting from those of their family members after they have entered college. 

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While it’s extremely uncomfortable, if you have a spouse or friend that you bring home and your family says something racist, sexist, homophobic or offensive at all, you have a responsibility to stand up to them, especially if that spouse or friend is a person of color or identifies as LGBTQ+. It’s your responsibility to call out your family members.

you should never let anyone, no matter your relationship to them, get away with saying something insensitive or offensive.”

We often get the question: “What would you do if you were in a group setting and someone said something highly offensive, such as the R-word or the N-word?” Thinking about the situation, most of us say we would call the person out, but in the actual situation, we might feel uncomfortable or awkward. We might actually feel as though we don’t want to anger or argue with someone, especially if they are someone older who we respect.

However, feelings aside, you should never let anyone, no matter your relationship to them, get away with saying something insensitive or offensive. This may seem obvious, but standing up to family members can be really difficult, even in group settings.

Many older family members will use the excuse that it’s just their sense of humor or the typical excuse that millennials are snowflakes. It doesn’t matter what the excuse is or what argument it will cause — telling family members and friends where their thought patterns are flawed and where they might be offending others is important.

Family members may genuinely not know why what they are saying is offensive or insensitive. I have a family member that I often have to call out on things they say because they really don’t understand that what they are saying could be offensive. It’s about educating rather than just brushing it off.

As I said in a previous column titled “What ‘OK, boomer’ really means,” many people simply brush off offensive remarks from older generations because some people don’t seem to be open-minded about changing. While the phrase “OK, boomer” is humorous and can be used to end uncomfortable conversations, it should not be a replacement for trying to educate people on the nature of their comments.

Educating each other on what might be insensitive or offensive is how we grow. The R-word used to be considered OK until we began educating each other on why it’s not OK to use. 

You should attempt to educate your family members and friends simply because offensive remarks are inexcusable. Also, you don’t want someone you care about to feel uncomfortable around your family and friends. Not standing up for your friends of marginalized identities might make them feel as though you agree with, or are okay with, the comments being made.

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Standing up to family and friends is never easy, but it’s necessary to not only educate them, but to make people of marginalized identities comfortable around you and your family. 

Katrina Leibee can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @KatrinaLeibee.

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About the Contributor
Katrina Leibee
Katrina Leibee, Editor-in-Chief
Katrina Leibee is serving as The Rocky Mountain Collegian's editor in chief for the 2021-22 academic year. Leibee started at The Collegian during the fall of her freshman year writing for the opinion desk. She then moved up to assistant opinion editor and served as the opinion director for the 2020-21 academic year. Leibee is a journalism and political science double major, but her heart lies in journalism. She enjoys writing, editing and working with a team of people to create the paper more than anything. Ask anyone, Leibee loves her job at The Collegian and believes in the great privilege and opportunity that comes with holding a job like this. The biggest privilege is getting to work with a team of such smart, talented editors, writers, photographers and designers. The most important goal Leibee has for her time as editor in chief is to create change, and she hopes her and her staff will break the status quo for how The Collegian has previously done things and for what a college newspaper can be. From creating a desk dedicated entirely to cannabis coverage to transitioning the paper into an alt-weekly, Leibee hopes she can push the boundaries of The Collegian and make it a better paper for its readers and its staff. Leibee is not one to accept a broken system, sit comfortably inside the limits or repeat the words, "That's the way we've always done things." She is a forward thinker with a knack for leadership, and she has put together the best staff imaginable to bring The Collegian to new heights.

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