DISCLAIMER: My intent is not to bash anyone or say they are bad people.
Recently, I attended an on-campus protest against our administration's lackluster response to the COVID-19 pandemic. I went with my boyfriend and gave a speech in front of reporters from all over the state. However, I nearly cried during the aftermath because I broke chains that silenced me for my entire life.
I don't identify with a specific political party, but I am a registered Independent. However, my mother is one of the most hardcore Trump supporters I know. While she is free to have her opinions, she frequently and openly mocks and belittles those who have differing opinions. Unfortunately, my siblings and I are not immune. I vividly remember one visit around my twenty-first birthday when my brother warned me to not go to the kitchen. I went to get a few things to take home and caught my mom and sister in a fierce political argument.
My mom had called out my sister in two separate pro-Trump posts, and when my sister left, my mom mocked her to everyone present. I nodded in acknowledgment but didn't comment. I was in the shower for most of the argument, but my sister gave a brief rundown. In subsequent visits, my mom continued to mock my sister. I played along, but deep down, I was furious that my mother prioritized her political beliefs over her family.
Soon before the semester began, my brother and I joined my parents in dinner with our cousins from east Texas. It was nice to see relatives I hadn't seen in over a year, but my mom ranted about how much she loved President Trump. I said nothing and let her continue the tirade. My brother and I shared feelings of exhaustion of our mother's constant rants. She went on these rants when I brought my ex-boyfriend over when I dated him, and I said nothing because he agreed with everything she said. This was the same person who had his parents, along with himself, verbally assault me and call me a communist because I enjoy a Pentatonix cover of John Lennon's "Imagine."
The final straw, and what inspired me to attend the student protest, occurred when I expressed displeasure about my mom's support of Kyle Rittenhouse, the Kenosha vigilante. She sent me a passive-aggressive text, part of which read "If you don't like my posts, don't comment. Out of respect for you, I did not call you out, but I could have." I was also told during my freshman year of college that voicing my opinion would make me unemployable. I believed this lie for three years and dealt with the fallout from my mom's Facebook political antagonism, something that she considers a hobby. My sister no longer follows her posts, and I will follow soon.
The campus protest was a liberating experience because I let my voice be heard without fear of judgment for the first time in my life. To anyone, regardless of political affiliation, who remains silent for fear of losing friends and family: Do not be afraid any longer. If the ones you love do not support your endeavors, then they never loved you. Let my testament be not a message of pessimism, but one of inspiration and hope. As quoted in The Hunger Games trilogy, the only thing stronger than fear is hope.