Every morning, I leave my apartment between 7:50-8:00am in order to make it to work by 8:30am and very rarely am I late. I take my coffee with me and listen to WDET on the way to catch up on news and current events. This morning, however I got stuck in the worst traffic due to an accident. So bad that I was an hour and fifteen minutes late to work. The lemonade of the situation was that I made it through the entire Morning Edition segment and caught the first half hour of Detroit Today (which I had never heard before). The topic of today’s discussion caught my interest immediately, and while I hate being late for things, I didn’t mind it today.
Today’s segment was titled “How is Trump Era Affecting Families that are Politically Divided” ( https://wdet.org/posts/2017/10/11/85893-how-is-trump-era-affecting-families-that-are-politically-divided/?autoplay=1 ) and featured Panama Jackson who wrote an article titled “How Trump Ruined My Relationship With My White Mother” ( https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/how-trump-ruined-my-relationship-with-my-white-mother-1797935049 ).
To say that I am the black sheep of the family is a bit of an understatement. I’ve gone to college (and graduated woot-woot), I’ve built a successful career, I’m single in my 30’s (gasp), I moved far, far away from home, and I chose to reject all the conservative, republican, “Christian”, prejudiced, racist teachings that I had been subjected to my entire growing up years. This segment was right on point for the past few years of my life.
I obviously have social media, like we all do and Facebook was the easiest platform for me to have a voice when the fight for gay marriage was underway, when the Black Lives Matter movement started, for voicing my own rights for my body and fighting for women who had had their voices silenced. It was also the only social media platform that all my family and a few old high school and college friends were connected to me on. I definitely received quite a bit of backlash on several posts and articles, and a lot of being ignored. But, on the flip-side of it all, I had to see all their posts and articles supporting their opinions and beliefs which just left me seething in anger at how ignorant people could be to the incredible amount of social injustice happening all around us.
After the election last year, I decided I couldn’t take it any longer, and I un-friended nearly every family member that I had on my Facebook page with the reasoning that if they wanted to talk to me, then they could use their phone. What I realized at that point was that we were really no longer family. Most of us hadn’t spoken in years. We are polar opposites in every sense of our lives, and they don’t seem to want to put any effort into getting to know who I really am, just like I don’t really care to know who they still are. We truly are just blood. For my immediate family, it’s been a bit harder to navigate. My parents and sister still have access to my page, and I to theirs, though, I don’t think any of us check each other’s that often for fear of seeing something we vehemently disagree with and thus feeling pissed off at the other. And seeing as how my family has never been good at open dialog, instead opting for passive aggressive silent treatments and playing the martyr, it’s fairly obvious that that would not end well.
Note: I want state that I greatly understand that his story and perspective are truly his own, and I cannot begin to fully know and/or understand his point of view as a black man and I hope my words will not speak over his narrative. When I went and read Panama’s article, I found relief at knowing that I was not the only person struggling with conflicting feelings of love for your family, but also anger, sadness, and disappointment at how inconsiderate and hurtful they could be. How can the person who gave birth to you, or raised you, or grew up with you hold such differing opinions on the world? How can they not see injustice that you see every day? How can they not see discrimination? How can they not see murder? How can they not see white men in power GETTING AWAY WITH ALL THIS HORRIFIC ILLEGAL SHIT?! It’s….infuriating. And heartbreaking. Because at the end of the day, when you’re the kid, all you want to do is to be able to look up to and respect your parents, and when you cannot, everything feels so backwards.
The final caller who phoned in to the show made the typical comment that most older folks would make which was basically, politics are not worth losing your relationship with your mother over, so you should just be the bigger person, do not engage, and treat her with respect. The sentiment I understand because that’s exactly the type of advice I would be given by certain people, but honestly, it infuriated me. Panama did an incredible job of replying to the comments and you could tell that this truly is not an easy situation for him to be in, but I, for one, am very grateful that he’s willing to have this conversation publicly because I think there are more of us than not who are in the same or similar situations and it’s nice to not feel alone. But, I am so sick of people telling me or others who have faced these injustices personally, that we have to be the one to be respectful, or not engage in opposing dialog with our “elders”, or that we need to let love rule. I can be respectful but also have an opinion and call you out when yours is blatantly wrong. And how is it loving to let someone continue on with hurtful/hateful beliefs? Why am I not allowed to call out wrong actions or comments just because someone is older than me?
What I found to be the most poignant statement he made on air, was his point regarding his mother’s “willful ignorance”. That to me is the crux of so many of Trump’s supporters and why open dialog cannot happen across political lines. They turn a blind eye to what is truly going on, and when god-forbid, someone puts it in their face, they scream out their bible verses and hold up the Bill of Rights like they are the saints with stakes and we are the vampires. But for those of us “vampires” it’s the drive for equality that sets us apart. And in that drive for equality, we absorb knowledge, either from research or personal interactions with people who have had different experiences than us and that knowledge changes us. It makes us question the norm, and wrestle with those uncomfortable thoughts inside of us. And those questions, when answered, bring awareness, and drive change forcing us to be a different person. I want to be that kind of person for the rest of my life.
I have no idea what the next three years will bring us, and honestly, I’m scared as fuck because I don’t see any of it going well if our current administration doesn’t change. I don’t know what it means for my relationships with my family or old friends from a different era. But I know what I believe in, and I know I won’t stop talking about it. Goodnight.