Hey. You. Psssst. Yeah you, my well-meaning white liberal American friend. C’mere. There’s plenty of room on the couch so sit for a minute; we’re gonna have a little talk about the future.
No, not about the next four years. I know, you totally thought I was gonna go off on Trump and what his presidency means for me and my families of birth and choice, how many of us are vulnerable, and how today at work I literally heard someone say out loud “anyone who’s not a true-blood American should be worried right now” as if this were some kind of Harry Potter sort into House Racism, House Misogyny, House Homophobia and House Religious Intolerance.
No, babes. We’re gonna talk about the next two weeks. That’s right: Thanksgiving.
In particular, let’s talk about how much you’re dreading Thanksgiving right now. How much you don’t want to walk into that room and sit at that table and smile and make nice and listen to Uncle Brad talk about how we’re gonna Make America Great Again and Aunt Becky talk about how Hillary just wasn’t very likeable, honey, you know what I mean, and Cousin Chad talk about how we just need someone with some business sense.
Yeah, that’s about to be real uncomfortable for you, and I’m not here to make it any better. Not for you. You know why? Because your willingness to smile and make nice and listen to that bullshit like it was acceptable and even encouraged to talk like that in 20fucking16 is what put us here. Your willingness to sit on the fence and “be friends with both sides” while one side was actively harming the other? Your willingness to overlook Uncle Brad’s casual racism, to shove it under the table like the year my mom told me everyone my Granddad’s age said “Jap” that’s just the way old people are, honey (hint: it’s not and if it is it shouldn’t be)? Your willingness to swallow your own discomfort and ignore the fact that real people are really dying out there so that your relatives can cheerfully go about supporting ideas and policies that put my relatives, my friends, my families in the ground? That’s how we got Trump.
I get it, friend. I don’t want to feel complicit either, but, like, 53% of white women voted for Trump and I know some of them. And I recognize that I’m lucky that when my family sits down at the table we agree on important stuff like “whether black people are human” and “is gay-bashing a hate crime” and “should there be gluten in stuffing” (j/k we disagree on the last one because Portlandia; but that is the nature and quality of a thing that you can disagree on and still remain friends). But you are – we are all – complicit in enabling the systems that embolden racism, misogyny, homophobia, and a host of other social ills every time we smile and nod and let people who hold those views believe we agree.
If Uncle Bob says n*****s are lazy and stupid and all you say is “pass the potatoes” this shit is your fault. Yeah, even if you voted blue all the way downticket to the water district elections. You helped them think it was ok, it was acceptable, that a majority of society thought it was just fine. You made them comfortable. You let them talk and you kept sense and rationality behind your teeth and you agreed to disagree and you thought it was fine to keep them in your life and let them believe they had you as a friend and supporter and on the other side of your face you pretended that you could still be a friend to POC, to LGBTQIA(&c. &c.) people who knew you.
You’re a terrible fucking friend.
You know that, right?
Friends do exactly what you haven’t been doing. They make sure nobody hurts their friends. It doesn’t hurt your racist homophobic misogynist friends and relatives one bit to be told they’re doing wrong. And yet you haven’t done it, have you? Or, you know… you have… sort of… you participate in a lot of conversations online, okay? But it’s different when it’s Aunt Becky.
Newsflash: it isn’t.
It isn’t different when it’s your relative. It isn’t different when it’s somebody you already know or are related to saying those things. That is still wrong behavior. Fuck that: it’s evil behavior. And you know it. You can recognize it from a complete stranger. Stop making excuses for people you know. While you’re enjoying 25% of their personality, the other 75% is putting Trump in office.
But it’s going to make Thanksgiving really uncomfy if you say something, right? Suuuuuper awkward? Oh my god, honey, here’s another hot tip: it’s already uncomfy as fuck for you. Why should the person actually doing the bad thing be made comfortable? Why should they be happier about their terrible self than you are?
Still not persuaded? Then you know what? Fuck you. Honestly and sincerely. Because you just prioritized your racist Uncle Brad’s casual comfort over the lives and wellbeing of myself, my friends, and my family. You just decided that as long as Aunt Becky continues to eat at your table you’re ok with a system that kills us. And if that’s where your priorities stand, you’re not my friend and you never were. Because those scales aren’t even close to balanced.
This Thanksgiving, do something that actually matters: make your racist homophobic misogynist bullshit friends and relatives as uncomfortable sitting at that table as you are. Don’t quit, and don’t stop. You owe it to everyone for the next four years at least.
Clean your house.