This winter break I came home to a new home. One with a mom whom I love and her boyfriend whom is kind and we are er- pals. I walked into the house and straight to the kitchen because yes, that is what I do before I embrace others or plop down on the ground to participate in a deep ritual of home-smelling. But what do I find, seconds before I begin opening the fridge door, staring at me, but the one and the only, the hair, the orange tan, those strange, crusty little lips, yes. It’s Donald Trump. And he is staring at me in the form of a Christmas card, smiling and thanking my family for our support and good tidings to all! Are you fucking kidding me with that face, Donald? Better yet- what the fuck are you doing on my refrigerator?
This is one of many incidents that have become a familiar occurrence, the many that have become a part of the struggle living amongst (and still loving) people who have extremely contrasting opinions, ideologies, and beliefs, especially those of political and social nature.
Backstory- growing up my parents were never hugely involved with politics, I don’t even think my dad voted (ugh). I started becoming more politically-minded via 7-11 Obama coffee cups a la 2008 election after seeing him speak in a neighboring city. My god, such eloquence, such zeal. Yet it wasn’t until college, when I was learning about deeply entrenched societal problems such as uh- unequal pay, white privilege, systematic racism (I know fuck I was ignorant), sexual violence, etcetcetc. Like many of my peers, I am obsessed with learning about these things and their political and cultural effects, having been culturally illiterate for so long. I had entered into the world of feminism and dammit, I was here to stay! Practically all of my classes and conversations involved discussion of some kind of current event or new knowledge of a past event that needed to be shared/screamed aloud.
But what happens when you go home with all this knowledge, to people who may not be interested, or simply don’t “get” feminism or oppression and how these things are incredibly vital to me, to us, and to our community? And what happens when, even more excruciatingly, some of them begin to support people who are very much against all the things you stand for- equality, freedom of choice and the like. Believe me. I have attempted to understand this Trump thing, to get some kind of perspective, but it is nearly impossible. I get “the silent majority,” and I believe people like my mom’s partner, my father, and others fall into this category of working class, middle-aged white people, who work hard for a buck in their blue-collar jobs, and frankly, dislike taxes and the government. To them, DT is heroic. He’s not funded by any Kochs, he speaks a simple language (even when it’s vomiting purely sexist and racist comments), manipulates the free media (along with his voters), and is the oompaloompa-esque poster child of the anti-PC movement (hurray). Another bonus- he preys on the fact that the people voting for him highly, highly dislike Obama and everything the man stands for. But besides all this, how does one live cordially in a space occupied by another living human being, with an actual heart, who breathes Fox News and is intent on voting for someone you find appalling to your very being as a feminist, advocate, and humanity?
After countless debates at the dinner table/the living room/in the car/over the phone, I am exhausted. I have begun to dread going home because of these discussions that end in tears of frustration and comments I am not proud of having said. I’m working on finding more productive ways to discuss and articulate feminism and social issues with my new and opinionated family, but the going is rough when someone aims an infuriating question like, “Oh, I heard you’re voting for Hillary- haha! God! Her e-mails!” The reality of it is- you will always have friends, lovers, brothers, and others who will disagree with something or everything you are passionate and invested in. I believe there is not a perfect answer to this situation, as I’m beginning to learn myself. But I am working on replacing my anger towards others with patience and understanding, as I must respect them and the many choices they may make that to me, are mindfucking (especially re: DT).
Yet, this is progress. By voicing these beliefs around those who often go much of their life without hearing them, they might think of them a little teeny weeny bit more, and that’s something. On that note, my spring break plans do in fact consist of calm, cool, and collectedly burning that awful Christmas card- it just doesn’t go with the décor.