A man of color who had been with his Caucasian wife for over 15 years found himself questioning their relationship after a heated debate over a racist incident.
Their squabble began after Redditor "aitam8" refused to ignore a drunk and verbally abusive passenger who began spouting ethnic slurs at him while riding on a subway.
Instead of being angry towards the passenger, his wife was resentful at her husband for engaging with his racist aggressor.
The original poster (OP) asked AITA (Am I the A**hole) for retaliating.
"I am brown, wife is white," he began.
"We're on the subway on Friday night and some drunk Irish dude eyes me up and starts saying 'May god be wit ya' and 'May Allah be wit ya' interchangeably."
"I'm confused for a while as I'm neither Christian nor a Muslim and then I understand why, oh it's because I'm brown."
"I ask him if he's referring to me, there's a bit of back and forth, it's not particularly aggressive but he didn't like being called out on this and then followed that initial conversation up by hurling some explicit racist abuse my way."
"Some of the other members of the carriage actually did speak up and told him to STFU and he became over more belligerent, picking on those people too."
"Meanwhile, my wife is mortified (for reasons that will become clear in a moment) and at the next stop she asks me if we can get off the carriage. I agree and we walk off the carriage."
"I'm stood there, really upset at what's gone down, and we stand silently for a while."
"She then says to me 'I'm sorry that happened to you, but your reaction was really out of order. You shouldn't feel bad when strangers say sh*t like this and you shouldn't react.'"
"She proceeds to tell me that I shouldn't have engaged with him and that I embarrassed her."
Tammy Wynette once suggested women should stand by their man. That was in 1968.
Things are much more complicated in 2020, apparently.
"I was already really upset, and I was even more upset and shocked that she reacted this way."
"I said to her I didn't want to talk about it right now. She walked off home by herself and I ended standing there by myself like a knobhead."
The argument continued with more intensity the following day.
"Next day we have the same disagreement again and this time it was more heated - she repeated what she'd said the night before and I got upset again - I said to her she's not able to tell to me how I should feel when I am the subject of racism, that I did as she asked by going off the train, but that I felt obligated to call out the racist sh*t that I was being subject to."
"I said to her that she'd never truly feel what it is like to be the subject of racist and on that basis alone she should stop telling me how to feel or behave."
"I'd initially thought she was worried I was going to get into a fight, but her problem is really that i reacted at all, that the abuse was just empty words as far as she's concerned."
"I'm sat here, really dumbfounded that this is my wife who's reacted like this (we have been together 15 years and we have a mixed race kid too), so I must be missing something."
"I am coming to you with a completely open mind. Please tell me - AITA in this situation?"
Many responded saying that the OP was NTA (Not the A**hole) for standing up for himself, and commented about the wife's callousness.
"NTA. It's one thing to be non-confrontational, but your wife is being extremely insensitive to you and your perspective as a brown man." – agirlhasnoscreenname
"White people telling POC how they should feel about and react to racism is actually a huge part of the problem."
"OP, your wife needs to cut that sh*t out yesterday." – halfveela
"Being quiet is a privilege for those who don't attract attention."
"Being a minority means that a lot of the time our silence is violence. NTA."
"You've been brown all your life I'm sure you know how to navigate what that means in public." – d20sapphire
"as an Asian dude I just expect it out of white people at this point though."
"they don't usually have ill intentions but it's just something they all do in someway or another." – pm_me_xayah_porn
This person believes that staying silent perpetuates racist behavior.
"Racists also becoming emboldened when people remain silent."
"Speaking up and calling them out is exactly what people need to do. Everyone should call out racists." – TheDreadPirateJenny
People wondered how the wife treats their bi-racial child, based on her reaction.
"It's not just insensitive to him but also her child, which is mixed."
"Her obligation as a mother to protect her child is, in my opinion, even bigger than her obligation towards her husband."
"And from what it sounds like she would be just as horrible towards their child, too."
"And if she truly were non-confrontational she wouldn't start an argument with him either." – Kesslersyndrom
Others in mixed-race relationships gave their two cents and admitted things would go down differently if they were in the OP's situation.
"honestly, as a black woman, I'm really concerned about her response to that occurrence knowing full well she is married to a someone who would occasionally face this."
"Having an ally means not facing it alone and having hope that not everyone feels that way."
"She not only just let him deal with it alone, she is honestly trying to make it seem like racism somehow deserve civility?"
"That is everything that is wrong with why bigotry gets to thrive."
"My boyfriend is a 50 year old white man. He's cut off childhood friends the moment they revealed themselves. There really is no excuse." – kgirl21
"I'm a white woman too and in that sort of situation, I'D be the one yelling abuse at the racist sh*thead."
"F*ck those people. No one insults my spouse and gets away with it. >:(I'm sorry OP, but you're wife is an a**hole here. You are not. NTA." – Pelageia
This Redditor agreed the OP was NTA.
However, she did mention the wife may have been angry out of fear for their safety.
"POCs who date white people really need to make sure their partner is aware of their social differences."
"As an Asian woman, I couldn't stand to date someone so ignorant."
"On the other hand, I could see this being less of a race thing and more of a 'avoiding confrontation thing' -- I've gotten angry at my past partners reacting to homeless/crazy people talking to me on the street because I feel like reacting to those situations is more exacerbation than pacification."
"OP should get to the bottom of why their partner was upset." – fleshand_roses
"OP posted some more of the exchange in the comments and this is definitely the case."
"He escalated the situation and it could have gone poorly all based on how a belligerent drunk person was going to act."
"The wife was probably scared and frustrated that he didn't deescalate the situation." – TunaMustard
If this was the case, the wife could have been more articulate about her true concern.
"OP shouldn't have engaged. His wife should have been more clear with herself and with OP about the problem -- it wasn't OP being offended, it was OP instigating a confrontation." – TunaMustard
"If that's what she was frustrated by that's fine, but never tell someone that 'they shouldn't have reacted to racism.' Don't tell them 'they shouldn't feel bad.'" – TB97
"I get that your wife is non confrontational and was uncomfortable in the situation but no one should have to remain silent as they are being verbally abused."
"You did as she asked and got off the train and didn't continue to escalate the situation." – Bearmancartoons
One Redditor—who claimed to be a non-White person—sided with the wife by touching on a different perspective of the racial debate.
"You know, I kinda see your wife's point."
"First of all, think how would a woman approach this situation. You're right, she has never had to deal with racism, but she does have to deal with misogyny on a daily basis."
"So, for probably most women, a drunk dude babbling slightly offensive sh*t at you on the bus is a situation that could be ignored as long as dude doesn't escalate."
"A woman wouldn't confront Drunk Dude, because if the situation escalates it becomes actually dangerous for us."
"And we're aware of it. We're afraid of it. So our strategy tends to be to deflect and ignore."
"Also, she must have been scared. I know I would have been, if my SO confronted a drunk dude and the situation escalated."
"You chose a different approach to this situation. I don't think you're wrong, but your wife isn't necessarily wrong either. There's a fundamental difference in perspective here, but not one that seems insurmountable." – pillmayken
One thing that can be agreed upon is the fact that the drunken reprobate is definitely the a**hole in this scenario.
The book White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism is available here.