We were at my best friend's house, helping her and her family build an art studio, when a turning point arrived for me. Normally her household is pretty FA friendly, consisting of strong, empathetic, straightforward sort of people. Some of their near relations, however? Not so much. Her husband's brother showed up to help with the art studio wearing a tee shirt that said:
"I eat pussy like a fat kid eats cake"
Now this being a guy who hung a giant pink neoprene ball sack from his pickup truck's trailer hitch, I'm pretty used to his wearing shirts with sexual jokes on them. Since he prides himself on not caring what anyone else thinks, I doubt he even paused to consider whether he should wear this particular shirt on a day when he could expect to be surrounded by up to five fat women wielding hammers and power tools.
It wasn't my house or brother, but despite the handicap of a strong personal hospitality ethic, I spoke up. I told him his shirt was "fucking rude and obnoxious." I called it nasty. It took him a minute into the conversation to figure out that I wasn't talking about the sexual reference. I said it bluntly, but without anger. He took it well (meaning he didn't get all pissy and defensive, but then he's pretty easygoing as far as I can tell). I didn't get into FA 101 with him because I think it would be too much a challenge to his paradigm, but hopefully something got through.
The point is not whether he got it, but that I spoke up. I am too often willing to let things go rather than risk a confrontation; especially when I don't know the person very well. There's many a times when I've walked away from a situation with the "I should've said...." lines running through my head. I've often regretted being passive when I had an opportunity to speak up.
I can't promise myself that I will absolutely never shy away from a confrontation concerning prejudice (of any kind), but right now, in this case, I'm pretty proud of speaking up.
Oh, and rough framing a building in the sun when it's 95 degrees celsius and close to 100% humidity is my new definition of hell.