“Who cares if Trump’s a rapist? At least crooked Hillary didn’t win.” A gloating family member remarks during our holiday dinner.
I feel the world stop turning. I feel the tears in my eyes. The never-ending punch to my gut that is a Trump Presidency.
He doesn’t understand, I think to myself, He doesn’t know what it means to be a victim of a sexual assault. He doesn’t realize what is at stake for you as a queer woman.
My family however doesn’t even pause to notice that the world is ending around me. They continue to pass the potatoes and pour glasses of wine.
I excuse myself to the bathroom and I almost turn around when a remark is made about how Millennials can’t stand to lose. My usually loud voice silenced by the sheer outnumbering of my Republican family in a red state.
Ah the holidays. A time for avoiding family and drinking away the days until you can return to school with your open-minded peers.
It is only the first weekend of a two week trip home and I begin to wonder how I will endure this break. How can we have a peaceful holiday when there is no much hate and anger in our country right now? In a world where political rhetoric dabbles in anti-human ideals, how can we still be a family that supports each other?
Many millennials are facing this challenge in their trek home this winter, especially if they are journeying from colleges and universities which are statistically more likely to be in areas that went blue in the last election.
How do we separate our family’s beliefs from who we know them to be? I know my family is full of good people with strong values and faith. I know my brothers and father believe in their religion above all else. I know that no one in my family planned to have a queer democrat carrying on the family name.
But I also know that I am more than who I voted for in the last election. I know that I am a fighter and an advocate and above all else an educator. It is my job to spread knowledge and confront ignorance and fear with compassion and patience.
Following the election, I was full of so much anger and fear and sadness that the once great country that I lived in was lost. I was terrified for my students and my friends and myself. I hated everyone who had voted independently or republican. But all this served to do was isolate me from my family.
Even though I am afraid of the world that we currently live in, I have to be strong and continue to fight for justice.
I am aware that I shouldn’t have to explain to someone why I deserve basic human rights, but I also won’t turn my back on my family because of how they were raised. I will continue to print out news articles and tape them to my father’s orange juice carton. If there is going to be ignorance and hatred in my family, it will not come from me.
An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.
I come back to the table and sit down, picking up the argument where my relative left off. Correcting misconceptions and attempting to combat everything that Fox News had to say that morning. I get nowhere with the older members of my family, but I have to hope that maybe my little cousins heard my rant and learned something new.
I pass the potatoes down to my grandfather and shake my head.
My anger will not come from ignorance. My fear will not define me as it does them. Where there is conflict, I will be a force of knowledge.
I may not change my family’s mind, but they will not change mine either.