In the past, we’ve often stayed silent to keep the peace when various aunts, uncles, grandparents, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, etc. have spouted racist nonsense. We’ve agreed to disagree about politics. We’ve let things pass.
Well, white folk, we can’t do that anymore. Letting it slide is part of how we got here.
So, when you go home this holiday season and your family passes the praise for Chitler* along with the gravy, remember: you’re not the asshole for pushing back. They’re the assholes for bringing it up to begin with. And they are very much assholes for voting for someone who wants to dismantle American democracy and rob the country. And before you get all sympathetic and think they’re victims, just remember that signs this shitheel’s a con man were everywhere for literal decades, and there’s no damned excuse for not knowing exactly what he is. He just had to settle a lawsuit over his fraudulent university, for fuck’s sake. There are no victims here. Just willing dupes.
With that in mind, here’s a brief guide to surviving the holidays with Chitler-loving relatives, and how to push back against their isms and bigotry.
Libby Anne, whose family is still deeply involved in the Christian Patriarchy movement, has sound advice for anyone who has to dine with conservatives. Please read through to the end, because some of the landscape has changed since this election – a fact she fully recognizes. Our old tactics are no longer enough.
Jessica Xiao has some excellent tips on who should be engaging in these conversations with Chitler-loving relations, and how to go about it. They’ll work well for relatives and friends who are willing to go deep in discussions and talk things through.
[email protected] has some excellent scripts for confronting racist statements and pushback. If you don’t read any other link, read this one. Memorize it. Love it. There’s also a lot of good advice there for handling any situations you may encounter while traveling.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has an entire page with links to resources for dealing with specific situations. It’s even available as a pdf for handy reading on the train, plane, or other mode of transportation on your way to the feast.
If the conversation goes remarkably well, and your relations are finally ready to learn about the things they need to do in order to help the people their vote harmed, great! Read Tony’s thread together.
I’ve got a few things to add here:
If you’re on an axis of privilege, you really need to step up for those who don’t share that privilege. We need white folk standing up for people of color. We need men standing up for women. We need abled folk standing up for disabled folk. We need straight folk standing up for queer folk. And so on. Standing up isn’t easy. Your relatives may not be used to it, and they definitely won’t like it. Tough. Remember: you’re not the asshole here.
If you’re marginalized, do what you need to in order to survive the holidays with your health and well-being reasonably intact. But if you can, do feel free to rub your Chitler-supporting relatives’ noses in the fact that their vote harmed you. Don’t let them keep pretending like it’s just some grody other they hurt, or that they didn’t hurt anyone at all. If you’re moved to speechify on all the ways their choice harmed you, let it rip. They’ll probably be upset. Tough. Remember: you’re not the asshole here.
When Chitler-loving people call for empathy, remind ’em it goes both ways. And we have tried. Oh, how we have tried. It’s their godsdamned turn now. Stop letting them pretend empathy is a one-way street moving in their direction. Tell them in no uncertain terms that it’s time for them to learn some fucking empathy themselves. They’ll probably be upset. Tough. Remember: you’re not the asshole here.
If the animosity isn’t flowing, you might be able to get them to come on board with you by extending an invite. Tell them what you’re doing, whether it’s donating to a particular organization, volunteering, learning more about racism or other bigotries, etc. Invite them to join you. If you word it properly, you can make it sound like an offer no decent human being would refuse (because most decent human beings would not refuse to do good things). You may just be able to get them to open up to some possibilities and reduce some harm.
And if none of that works, that’s fine. It’s a gift-giving time of the year. So take all the money you were going to spend on them, and donate to a good cause in their name. Here’s a long list of great progressive organizations complete with links.
You’ve got this. You’ll get through it, I promise.
*As the supposed winner of the presidential race is so triggering to some of my friends that even his name makes them physically ill, I’ll be calling him Cheeto Hitler from now until we get to stop talking about him. Chitler for short.