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I'm a bridesmaid for my friend's wedding. We have known each other for 12 years and I have been friends with her and her sister. I was not born in the country we are currently in and I have a different ethnicity. Unfortunately, the country I am from is experiencing tensions with country I'm living in and where my friend is also/the wedding is. I have lived here since I was 8 and I'm a citizen.

At the bachelorette party I tried to make conversion over dinner and mentioned that I have a friend in the military who has mentioned that people shouldn't contact her as she goes through training. I mentioned this and the bride yelled in the restaurant that I can't contact her because I'm from the country I'm from. The bride is the military and is serving currently and I know she hears a lot about the country where I'm from. Bridesmaid_2 told the bride that what she said wasn't very nice and tried to explain. I didn't say anything, only bridesmaid_2 who is also an immigrant tried to explain the situation and mentioned to the bride that it was rude what she said.

Maybe it is my fault because I never spoke to them about these comments, but I feel like if I have been friends with them for 12 years and in 2019 that they don't know that these comments are rude then maybe they will never know? It kind of makes me not want to continue this friendship especially since I have been friends with them for 12 years and I don't want to be in a friendship where I have to filter my words just so someone won't mention how I'm different.

I would appreciate some advice on how to address this issue. How do I speak to her about this issue and about how her comments might be insensitive?

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    I don't think "should I keep being friends with someone who is casually racist towards me" is a question others can answer for you, but more a matter of your own tolerance for the bad behavior. Is your goal something like "How can I tell my friend that her comments are hurtful and unacceptable in a way that is least likely to make her defensive"? – Meg Aug 7 at 21:19
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    @juice the SE sites are not about opinions. Same counts for IPS. E.g. How can I tell a person that... is a fine question. Should I tell a person that... is not, because it is opinion based. You may ask, how can I tell the bride I am not attending (if you do not want to attend). – QEDemonstrandum Aug 8 at 14:32
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    Thank you everyone! I've decided to ask about how I should speak to her instead. How can I bring this issue up, because I've never spoken to her about this before when comments used to bother me and now it has gotten worse. – juice Aug 11 at 21:10
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    @juice what do you intend to accomplish at the end of the conversation? Have her stop the comments or just get more evidence on whether or not you should continue with this friendship? – Juliana Karasawa Souza Aug 12 at 9:55
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    Do you think that just telling her directly would be inappropriate? – LinuxBlanket Aug 12 at 16:00
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The thing about having to drive out of your way for Bridesmaid2, while annoying, is something I think you should just let go of. I've been in a few bridal parties and I've been in even more situations where more than three people are trying to coordinate a meeting time and place. It gets complicated and, in the case of bridal events, keeping the bride happy takes precedence over your personal convenience. You just have to roll with it and be flexible.

HOWEVER, you should not roll with casual racism. And Bridemaid2 gave you a great example by calling out the bride's comments in the moment and explaining that what she was saying was wrong and why.

I have a friend who used to very casually use a homophobic slur in conversation. He would use it to mean "jerk" or "idiot." I'm not a member of the LGBT community, but I was bothered by it nonetheless. The next time he used it, I said something like,

"Listen, I need to tell you something. You really shouldn't be using (word) the way you do. It implies that there's something wrong with being gay and that calling someone gay is an insult. I know you don't think that and I would hate for people who don't know you as well as I do to think that you do.

It turned out that he had never really thought about the word very closely; he had grown up around people saying it and had just absorbed it into his vocabulary. Once he really thought about what it meant and how people might receive it, he stopped using it.

I suspect things might be similar for this bride. It sounds like her whole family has these attitudes and she has probably never examined them. And since she has been saying them to you for 12 years, she probably thinks there's nothing wrong with it. That's not to blame you; I'm guessing you were pretty young when this friendship started and confronting racism is complicated and difficult. But now that you're adults, it is time to confront it.

Sit down with the bride and tell her how her words have made you feel. Be specific about the things that she and her parents have said that have bothered you. Tell her that you know that she loves you and therefore she must understand that people from your country can't and shouldn't be reduced to stereotypes. Make room for the possibility that she has absorbed some bad ideas from her parents and that, if she really examined them, she would realize that she doesn't want to behave that way. If she brings up things that her fiance has told her, remind her that a person experiencing a country from the point of view of a military occupation will never get a fully rounded experience of that country.

Whether you need to back out of the wedding will depend on her reaction to this conversation. If she makes a sincere apology and makes a commitment to cutting out this kind of behavior, I think you can continue with this friendship. If she tries to gaslight you or tries to tell you that you are being overly sensitive or unreasonable, then I think backing away from this friendship and this wedding is the best thing.

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