As we pack our bags and make the drive home for a much-needed break from the stresses of academia, many of you might be thinking what I’m thinking: “Sh*t, how am I going to sit across the table from racist Uncle Dave for an entire two hours on Thursday?” Well, earlier this week, one of my fellow bloggers wrote a poignant piece for just that situation.
While I agree that it is important to maintain healthy communicative practices and not to let this controversial election season ruin your familial relationships, I do not think that “respecting political opinions” is applicable to the 2016 Presidential Election. I do not think that me and racist Uncle Dave can agree to disagree on this one.
I, for one, will always combat even the slightest of slights when it comes to the topic of Hillary v Donald. Why? There is a point where I draw the line when it comes to respect. My respect for your opinions, regardless of our blood relationship, is completely lost when your opinion hinges on a lack of human rights, when your views are founded on mysogenistic, racist, and xenophobic principles. Respect for another’s opinion is reserved for situations such as “I like sweet potatoes more than mashes potatoes,” or “I hate gravy,” not for things like “I don’t like black people,” or “all Muslims are terrorists.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “My _____ [mom, dad, brother, sister, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, cousin, et] voted for Trump, but they’re not really _____ [racist, sexist, mysogenistic, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic, etc].” Here’s the thing about that line of logic, though. Your blood relative voted for Trump because they had the privilege to not have to worry about oppression, because they decided that hateful rhetoric and threats of human rights violations were not important to them simply because those violations do not affect them personally, or they simply do not care.
I know, we all love our families, even when we hate them, but that love should not hinder you from being able to have a productive, healthy conversation as to why voting for Trump was deplorable. That love should not be the reason why you sit and grit your teeth in silence as your cousin Mark drones on and on about building a wall. That love should not hold back your jaw drop as Grandpa Joe casually works racial slurs into reminiscing about ‘back in his day’.
I think it is your responsibility, my responsibility, all of our responsibilities to stand up for our rights and the rights of our fellow human beings, even if that confrontation happens over a plate of Thanksgiving turkey. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is – ’tis always the season to combat hate, especially in your own home.
As Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Do not be neutral. Do not say nothing. Do not let sly pro-Trump comments at the Thanksgiving dinner table go un-addressed, even for the sake of a pleasant family meal.
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