When I last shared a post, I wrote about being at peace with myself, and that I wanted to become a good ancestor, and then when I shared that post on Facebook, I posted the link with the following sentiment:
“F*ck Trump. F*ck his followers. F*ck White Supremacy. Let’s roll.” I then unfriended a bunch of people and logged off Facebook.
I immediately regretted how I shared my post. How exactly can I speak of being “at peace” and work toward building the Beloved Community if I tell people to f*ck off? I can’t. While I still do say f*ck white supremacy, I retract my sentiment toward Trump’s supporters, and as for Trump himself: may his and those who are complicit with and aiding his continued efforts to steal the election from Biden and his subversion of our democracy be stopped, and may he disappear into the annals of history. I don’t have high hopes for that, but a girl can dream.
As I mentioned, I unfriended a number of folks- Trump supporters and anti-vaxxers mostly, and I have spent much of the month of January away from Facebook, and I am not going to lie, I have been much happier for it. I view social media at this point as a necessary evil – a way to spread information and connect with folks quickly, although I struggle with at what cost.
For the past five years especially, social media has shown us on a daily basis, what people in our lives really think. Prior to the constant updates and food pics, we might have only gotten together a few times a year with many of our relatives who we now hear from on a daily basis via social media. In our previous sporadic and in-person meetings, we likely only discussed what was going on in our lives and rarely, if ever, turned to politics. If we did, those conversations were usually quickly quashed in order to “keep the peace”. But now we see in living color via the hateful memes and gifs shared on the daily exactly how racist, complicit, transphobic, and horrible some of our family members are, and it hurts. It hurts to know that the people with whom I share blood (or a blood relative), and with whom I have laughed at bbq’s and loved, perpetuate so much hate and so much harm. And the worst part is, they think the anger and hurt I feel at their racism and their transphobia is the moral equivalent to their anger at me for calling them out on their beliefs. Yes, you are free to believe whatever the hell you want, but you are not free from the consequences of your actions when you act on those beliefs. When you are called out for racist and transphobic statements and behaviors, you are not being “cancelled”; you are being schooled, and you are being held accountable.
I would love to end my post here and lay all the blame at my racist family’s feet, but of course, I can’t. I may see the hateful memes now, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in knowing pretty solidly who the racists were before they started wearing the red hats. We may have never really talked politics, but I sure know I let a “tasteless”(a.k.a. racist) joke or comment go on many occasions over the decades. I am reckoning with my complicity and doing all I can to make up for lost time.
I also struggle with the fact that I unfriended so many of the people I know who did and continue to support Trump. I feel like I am letting them get away with it. Allowing them to exist in their own happy hate bubble, while I do nothing. I am concerned that if I write off ten people in my family, and you write off ten people in yours, then we just have a bunch of people wandering around the country together, continuing to follow and spread lies and conspiracy theories, hatred and potentially violence. At the same time, I don’t want to expend the emotional energy anymore to fight them online. It makes me absolutely sick to see some of what they post, but whether I am kind or I am mean; whether I provide links to facts or not, they don’t want to hear it. They don’t believe me. I am just a “libtard snowflake” who is being “suckered” by the “fake news” “mainstream media”, so I am done. No more expending my energy going down some stupid rabbit hole trying to convince you to see something you don’t want to see. You don’t get to have my thoughts or my energy anymore. You are simply not worth it.
On the off chance that one of my Trump supporting friends or relatives that still remains on my Facebook list sees this and wants to discuss anything offline, I am here for that. You can reach out to me any time. I would actually love to have a real discussion. I would love to actually understand.
But I struggle with how to understand and how to be compassionate and not be complicit. If we are going to engage, know that I will engage from a place of truth, and I will be firm in that truth:
I have been too lax in my past about what I have been willing to concede. I have too easily given up my convictions, not to mention facts, so as not to hurt other people’s feelings or make them (or me) uncomfortable. There has been a lot of talk of “unity” these days, but I am not sure people want “unity” as much as they want complicity and silence. I am not interested in unifying with you if you will not seek and acknowledge the truth.
Please do not take my newly found confidence and certainty in truth as arrogance. I am absolutely certain that I am no better than anyone else, and while I do read a lot, I am always learning and will always have more to learn; I will never be perfect, and I don’t think I am smarter than anyone else. I am not here to be “better” than anyone or to humiliate or “destroy” anyone or make anyone feel smaller. But I am also not here to make you feel better about supporting a racist man or political party.
I fear for my country, as I know you do, too. We are coming at it from vastly different directions, and we each think the other is at fault. I don’t know what to do about that other than try to communicate and connect.
What I have the most control over is what I can do, and these are the steps I have taken today or in recent weeks to try to create the world I want to live in:
Sharing my thoughts in hopes of defining myself and connecting with you.