I was at a party and someone said:

“if you had kids with a white girl, they’d look like [the guy next to me]”

... along with “you two have similar mannerisms.” It didn’t sound mean-spirited in tone, but it peeved me nonetheless and I’m not sure why I’m still thinking about it.

Even though it’s unlikely the remark would happen again, I wanted to retort but never found the right words, but I didn’t ask about it at the time and it would seem odd to bring it up again in the future. I was left wondering what in retrospect could I have said or retorted.

How can I politely ask to understand her motivation for saying that?

  • 1
    Not really sure what your question is, there's not really enough context to understand the situation, but in any case questions asking "what should I say?" usually end up closed. Can you please edit your question? Add context and give us some idea of what you're trying to accomplish.
    – apaul
    May 13 '18 at 4:04
  • 1
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because unfortunately, this question appears to be asking “What should I do?”, which the community has determined to not be a good fit for Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange. We can’t decide for you what to do; after you determine what you want to do, we can help you with your goal, but we can’t make these decisions for you. Sorry.
    – Mithical
    May 13 '18 at 6:34
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    Which situation? Which relation to the "someone"? Which tone, which mind, which everything else? Especially which mannerisms? We even don't know if the other person is white or not. Every information is missing, I wonder what is clear. The person's motivation can vary from the worst insult to the funniest phrase. From my view I can only say talking to or about a person of other race is not yet racist. So this question really needs clarification.
    – puck
    May 13 '18 at 16:24
  • Hello, your question was in my review queue. I've made some drastic edits to your question to keep it in line with our question policy here. We can't really guess how your friends will react to your statements, so as written, your question was closed. I hope this version still meets your needs. Feel free to add more details, if you feel they will help us answer your question more effectively.
    – J A
    May 19 '18 at 5:26
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    I'm voting to leave this closed as it's still missing some important details, amongst it a description of what the asker considers 'polite', a location tag and/or cultural background, what was tried already and/or why the asker thinks might not be polite about using just basic interpersonal communication skills, or what part of their bics they're struggling with..
    – Tinkeringbell
    May 19 '18 at 12:31

The first phrase that came to my mind reading this was, "Wow." That's usually an easy one to say, even if you don't pursue it any further; it expresses that the comment was unexpected and not taken well.

My guess is that the person does not think about race much, and she doesn't think about it as being a sensitive topic anymore. Clearly (in her own mind) she's implying she's cool with interracial marriage, so she's on the correct side of everything, so it shouldn't be offensive for her to simultaneously comment on strangers' looks, procreative capabilities, and perceived race, right?

Or she may be an aspiring stand-up comic, or... the world may never know. But "Wow." is a low effort way to respond, possibly followed by engaging in a conversation about this, changing the subject, or walking away.

(Source: I have been this person who makes weird comments/bad jokes, and I still wince thinking about many of them. (Only occasionally have my comments involved race or similarly sensitive issues, though those are usually the ones I misjudged the most.) I have greatly preferred getting a sense that I erred then, so I can do an awkward apology in real time, rather than just realizing it much later.)

  • Edit: This answer is based on many assumptions about the situation, and it would help if the original poster clarified the situation, especially with regard to the questions puck posed. May 14 '18 at 19:37

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