Angry Uncle Review: Fighting Fire With Fire

Over at HuffPo, Doyin Richards says that enough is enough. It’s time to start kicking some avuncular butt:

Since the gathering is at your mom’s house, I’d start by talking to her about your uncle’s behavior and draw a very distinct line in the sand. No, don’t tell her that she needs to make her home a “politics-free zone” ― it’s good to have people show their true colors. Instead, tell her the moment your uncle unleashes offensive garbage toward your family, you’re going to grab your kids and leave.

Your mom might say you’re overreacting or being too sensitive, but I don’t think having a zero-tolerance policy for racism qualifies as either. And if she’s worth a damn as a grandmother, she will do whatever it takes to ensure her child ― and her grandchildren ― are as comfortable as possible.

That said, if she fails to get that message across to her brother, and if he does something offensive, you need to make a scene. Not a “square up and flip the furniture” scene, mind you, but enough to call out his behavior and, yes, straight-up embarrass him in front of everyone in attendance.

This certainly sounds cathartic, but the problem with it is pretty obvious: you should never make threats you aren’t willing to carry out. However, if you really are willing to pack up and leave at the first sign of racist crap from your uncle—and you’re willing to put up with the family-shattering stress this is likely to cause—then go right ahead. Just be aware that not everyone will necessarily be on your side if you do this. Also, it’s a waste of thousands of dollars in plane tickets and change fees if you had to fly to this gathering.

And what’s even worse, your uncle might well take this as a victory. I’d say that this is an absolute last-ditch strategy for someone with steely nerves and no particular desire to ever see their family again. That’s probably not many of you. One uncle.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.


We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.