I have been put off by the various references to that “creepy” uncle, within Latinx communities. I know I am projecting, but the word creepy as a female in my early thirties only has one connotation, and it invokes fear with sexual undertones. When I call a man creepy, I mean he does not understand the concept of consent, he does not seem to care that I am uncomfortable, and the list goes on. To call a man a creep, is to refer to their total delusion toward women and lack of respect for women.

I have a creepy uncle. I did not know they were creepy growing up, and I resent that I was not given those tools to name and stay away from said uncle. As an adult I know that one of my uncles sexually assaulted one his significantly younger cousins. Our families are big, and when there are as many kids involved as there are in my family tree, you can have an age difference of as many as 20 years between cousins. He does not live in the USA and his actions will go unchecked as long as my family continues to pretend that he is only a “creepy uncle” and not someone who needs to be put away, and kept away from children.

My family has a lot dirty laundry like this; my family “deals” with sexually violent and inappropriate acts by opting to love those people despite what they may have done. So long as you show repentance, and some sort of remorse, you will be accepted back into the folds. Men, the men in my family, can do no harm until they do and then they are absolved it of almost immediately.

“I know why we have this inherited need to stay silent and not report our “creepy” uncles.”

So the holidays have come and gone, and I am left thinking about those “creepy” uncle memes and gifs found throughout twitter, tumblr, and facebook and I cannot help but cringe because nothing in all that is acceptable. We are outwardly naming the need to keep our distance from certain family members, through jokes, instead of addressing the fact that some of our family members need labels such as “creepy” to indicate something without naming it: that the men, primarily, in my family and many other Latinx families have not been shit for a long time. And it is not their Latinidad that makes them shitty, and abusive, and careless – I will make that clarification.

Latinx have a distrust for police officers, especially immigrants, undocumented folks, and working poor latinx. We have seen our corrupt officers of the law, in our countries, treat and exploit families for money instead of justice. Some of our families have had to learn to deal with this sort of pain internally. When I was younger, I remember distinctly a story of a man who was burned alive for sexually assaulting a young girl in the neighborhood and her family carrying out their justice. This happened a block from where we lived. Our countries people know that the rich get richer by ignoring the problems of the poor. I know why we have this inherited need to stay silent and not report our “creepy” uncles.

I say all this because the holidays are a strange time, when we perform happiness and togetherness and a lot of us have to pretend that people in our intimate circles are not vile. I say all this because I am tired of hugging my “creepy” uncle every time I see him. I say all this because the holidays are all nice and dandy, till someone gets real and calls their “creepy” uncle a pedophile.

Originally published in Bold Latina.