So I understand I’m in the same boat as a lot of people when it comes to Thanksgiving plans. This election was grueling, triggering, and disheartening. For people who are against Trump, many of us are scared of losing hard won rights and the legitimization of racism. Trump also managed to insult a lot of groups of people. For instance, he said immigration from the Philippines should be stopped because Filipinos are terrorists and animals.
My children are half Filipino. My husband is first generation American. His parents immigrated from the Philippines after receiving medical training there. My FIL was an OB-GYN. My MIL was a registered nurse. They are certainly not terrorists. They worked hard for the American dream and realized it and contributed to America as they did.
It hurts. Worse, I fear for my families’ safety in a way I never have in the past. I never would have dreamt that a presidential candidate would have made racism so overt and legitimized and that he would have “won.”
So people like my family are hurt and scared right now. And Thanksgiving is around the corner.
Like a lot of people, I have relatives who supported Trump. And this year, it feels personal. It feels as though they voted against me and my family.
Look, I was able to do Thanksgiving in 2004 and interact with people who supported Bush, even though I felt Bush was a horrible president and needed to be sent packing. This goes beyond mere disagreements. Those is about someone voting for someone who wants to take away my children’s right to exist in this society safely. This is about someone voting to take away my rights to safe, legal abortion. This is about someone voting to take away the rights of my friends who are gay to marry who they love. This is about someone voting to take away someone’s right to healthcare. This feels very personal.
So in short, my mom is planning a small Thanksgiving for the more liberal people in our family, and away from the Trump supporters.
I get that people critique this by saying we need to keep dialogue open. Yet I’ve watched my mom confront her conservative family members for years over racism and it hasn’t changed their minds. We just get called “bleeding heart liberals” and dismissed. It doesn’t feel possible to have a constructive dialogue that will result in positive change.
But more than that, it’s hard to have a productive dialogue when you’re hurting and emotions are strong. I know some people are capable of doing this, and more power to them. The liberals in my family are worn down by living in a conservative area and feeling as though we constantly have to be on our guard. Right now, we need a safe space.
At then end of the day, I don’t think going to Thanksgiving and opening a dialogue on racism is going to change minds. We’ve been having that dialogue for years, and this is the result. Sometimes, you just have to lick your wounds and sit one out.