A Donald Trump Thanksgiving?
November 9, 2016 5:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm in the "racists and murderers" group, according to our President elect, and though I am a US citizen, he has promised to deport 11 million people who look like me. I incredibly angry and upset at the results of the election. My family is not in my ethnic group, and voted for this person. I've been invited to Thanksgiving, which I go to pretty much every year. It's an eight hour drive each way, along with a long weekend, and I only see them a couple times per year. Snowflakes inside, but should I go?

wallgrub made a very incisive comment over on the blue:
If someone is hateful towards you, then absolutely they should be avoided. But for family and friends who haven't been outright hostile, what do we hope to accomplish by shunning them?

My family have not been outright hostile to me, but one them has been hostile to my sister, who shares my political beliefs, and whose partner is in the same ethnic group I am. Because it's an eight hour drive, I usually end up spending three to four days there.

I'm so incredibly exhausted and burned out because of this election. I'm worried enough about being caught in a deportation dragnet, citizen or not, that I plan to carry a copy of my birth certificate with me starting in January, along with giving my partner access to a digital copy of my passport and other documents. I kind of just can't hear about the President elect and right now. Their support for this particular person feels like a betrayal. Aaaaand they'll be disappointed if I don't come.

We don't generally talk national politics out of mutual love and respect, and my guess is that the hostility directed at my sister may not be directed at me. My inclination is to stay home, but wallgrub's comment really made me think twice. How do I square these things? Should I go at all? Maybe shorten the trip? Staying with other family in the area isn't an option.
posted by cnc to Human Relations (36 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: No. You should not go, voluntarily, into a situation whose best outcome is that you spend time afraid you or someone close to you will be treated abusively.
posted by kewb at 5:54 PM on November 9, 2016 [29 favorites]

Best answer: You don't have to "hope to accomplish" anything other than preserving your emotional wellbeing. If you don't think it would be good for you to go this year, just tell them that you can't make it this year. You aren't obligated to make yourself miserable to possibly affect some sort of political change.

Can you invite your sister to spend Thanksgiving at your place?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:56 PM on November 9, 2016 [11 favorites]

Best answer: It isn't shunning.

They are reaping the hatred that they sow. They are facing the consequences of their hatred.
posted by geek anachronism at 6:00 PM on November 9, 2016 [37 favorites]

Best answer: Not going to one family gathering at a time when you feel exhausted and burned out is not "shunning" your family. Give yourself a break, be with people who make you feel good, and decide if, when, and where to see your family when you feel better.

This, too, shall pass. Eventually.
posted by rpfields at 6:01 PM on November 9, 2016 [18 favorites]

Best answer: I would not spend time with anyone who considered me to be a rapist and murderer simply because of my ethnicity, whether I was related to them or not. Their votes were a vote to maintain your status as a second class citizen. They don't deserve the honor of your presence.
posted by MexicanYenta at 6:08 PM on November 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Are you near Richmond, VA? I'm planning to be away for Thanksgiving Day, but if you're near Richmond and want to celebrate Thanksgiving with a Metafilter member the weekend after Thanksgiving or beforehand, I'll join you for some Thanksgiving dinner.
posted by shortyJBot at 6:18 PM on November 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I think it's okay to take a pass this year if you want to. It sounds like you generally feel loved and respected by your family, though, and I think that's important.

Do you know why they made the votes that they did? I'm in a somewhat similar situation - don't discuss politics with my parents - but I know from my sibling that they didn't actually like Trump but held their noses and voted because Economics / Never Hillary / Supreme Court. A lot of his more enamored supporters seem to be ignoring the inconvenient bits of Trump. It's like dating, when you can't see that your new paramour is a liar, and it's easy to explain away their offensive jokes and drug use. I'm very concerned about their choices, but I do understand that they are coming from a place of incomplete awareness. I just saw a Humans of New York post in which a Muslim woman's friend's Trump-supporting dad, who quite liked the woman, assured her "Oh he's not going to do some of the stuff he says he is."

So I can see why you would feel uncomfortable, but I think more information might help your relationship with your family.

Good luck to you.
posted by bunderful at 6:23 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Holiday gatherings are intended to reinforce and strengthen the bonds amongst families. I doubt you will come out of thanksgiving this year with renewed respect, love and loyalty to your family. Go another time when things are less fraught.
posted by tavegyl at 6:32 PM on November 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: I strongly believe that you choose your family and one of my most cherished freedoms is the ability to avoid surrounding myself with those who make me uncomfortable. And tensions like that make me uncomfortable, even if there's no open hostility. I'm white and I still avoid that whole wing of my family though it's easier because we were never close to begin with.

I'd take a pass, "family" or not. Reevaluate in the future but avoiding people that make you uncomfortable isn't shunning, it's self preservation.
posted by mikesch at 6:33 PM on November 9, 2016

Best answer: It's completely fair to give this one a miss unless you want to go but feel obligated not to for political reasons.

It's cute to tell people not to shun blah blah blah but honestly you have the right to associate with who you like, or not.
posted by Sara C. at 6:40 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Votes for this particular candidate are openly hostile actions, from where I sit.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:47 PM on November 9, 2016 [18 favorites]

Best answer: Dont go. We need to stop being so kumbaya (we =Americans who love our country and who are more inclusive than those who have selected a hate filled platform). Lets take a stand and show these bullies that it is NOT okay with us to for them to spew their hatred and also that we will not, as family or friends, accept such hatred in our lives or in our country. So do not go and please show your opinions clearly now in your behaviour. Your family (and perhaps these trump supporters) have not seen our tough side where we clearly and concisely express our opinion towards their choices. Now is the time to do so.
posted by metajim at 6:49 PM on November 9, 2016 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Make other plans. Do something fabulous. After spending so many years of Thanksgivings together, they should know that you value them. One year off doesn't change that. Take care of yourself.
posted by Pearl928 at 6:49 PM on November 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It's unlikely you'll be able to enjoy seeing them so soon. You might not be able to resist sharing some of your views, which I think you'd prefer to avoid. Nothing wrong with skipping thanksgiving, even xmas. Honestly, who the hell feels like celebrating? You don't have to think of it as shunning, just a well-deserved break.
posted by theora55 at 6:51 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I really don't see how this is a shunning. You are allowed to enjoy your holiday. And it won't be enjoyable to have to deal with that stress. You deserve a break.

Think of it this way: your family would better enjoy their holiday, too, if they don't have the added stress that your (very reasonable) fear, hesitation, and restraint would bring to the table.
posted by Neekee at 6:52 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your family or of what the "mutual love and respect" you mention consists. We're all angry right now and feel helpless but what you choose has consequences. There are different ways to attend or not attend, from announcing your absence as a political statement, to attending in order to explain in person how their political choice has personally affected you. You can say you don't feel safe traveling long distances because you feel unsafe in the current political climate. Or you can just say you're exhausted and will come next year. All of these actions are available to you but I don't understand your relationship well enough to tell you what to choose.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:52 PM on November 9, 2016

Best answer: It's OK to take care of yourself, even if they are disappointed. You're disappointed in them, I imagine. Take care of yourself. You can send holiday cards and give them a brief call and let them know you love them, but take care of yourself FIRST.
posted by pearshaped at 6:57 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: These two things are not related. Don't go because of logistics. See them at the next holiday.
posted by jbenben at 6:58 PM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think that cutting off friends/family doesn't make sense - how will they see different perspectives if we all just turn away and leave them in their bubble? - but it doesn't mean you have to go to *this* event, *this* day, *this* year.
posted by Lady Li at 7:04 PM on November 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Clarify: doesn't make sense meaning, I hear some folks arguing it's unethical *not* to cut off family with bad beliefs, and I'd argue against that. And in this case it sounds like you value many things about the relationship.
posted by Lady Li at 7:05 PM on November 9, 2016 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Eight hours each way to be really stressed out and smile at people who at best think you're an exception to a general rule of rapists and murderers is a long weekend you could spend caring for yourself or at least doing something you enjoy. I would not go.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:17 PM on November 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My advice, as a liberal who came home to visit family for the holidays -- only to learn my -entire- family voted for Trump (and condone or laugh off his remarks about POC, Muslims and LGBTQ people -- which I am) -- don't go! It's been -awful- and alienating surrounded by so much hate and willful ignorance as to how their views/votes will now affect me and people like me. Had I known of their pro-Trump stance beforehand, I would've NOT visited and saved it for another, less volatile, time.

Put your needs and sanity first. Don't prioritize their feelings -- how they voted demonstrates they certainly don't prioritize yours.

Treat yourself instead.
posted by stubbehtail at 7:23 PM on November 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I think that cutting off friends/family doesn't make sense - how will they see different perspectives if we all just turn away and leave them in their bubble?

There isn't anything that's going to change my parents' minds, they're just part of the older generation that we just have to wait for time to cure. My partner (half latinx) and I usually do Thanksgiving apart but this year we're taking care of each other.
posted by Candleman at 7:59 PM on November 9, 2016

Best answer: If you don't go and have the strength, might I suggest telling them why?

I missed a family Christmas when my same sex partner wasn't invited. I let them know exactly why I wasn't coming. She was invited the next year. Not perfect, but better.
posted by possibilityleft at 8:05 PM on November 9, 2016 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: These are all really great answers. Thank you all so much. I was really conflicted about this, and you collectively resolved it for me. This community has helped me feel a little better about the whole situation, and right now, I'll take what I can get.

shortyJBot - Thank you for your amazingly generous offer. I'm on the West Coast, so VA is a bit of a journey. I do have other family whose Thanksgiving I can likely attend. It's much closer, and there will be absolutely none of the tension or contentious politics that unfortunately exist with the family mentioned here.

stubbehtail - In some small way, you went through this so I didn't have to. Thank you, and best wishes for the next holiday being much better.
posted by cnc at 8:54 PM on November 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Run it through the best friend test. Would you subject your best friend to several days with these people? Nope? Then don't do it to yourself.
posted by ktkt at 10:37 PM on November 9, 2016 [9 favorites]

Best answer: I definitely agree with the different perspectives comment. In some cases, you have good people who have not been sufficiently challenged on their opinions and beliefs to cause them to take a closer look, or even to think about the issue at all. Removing yourself from this environment can be a win for your own short-term well-being, but does little to solve the bigger problem ... assuming that there is the potential for change.

On the other hand, there is also immaturity or even willful disregard. A family member here got married to a nice "Mexican" (actually: born and raised in the USA) girl, who has since passed away, but they had a daughter who definitely shares her mother's skin tone, etc. He is basically unwilling to understand that the racism and bigotry involved here is something that affects her.

You have to determine whether or not there is any sort of possibility of change. Even if there is, there's no reason that you have to feel obligated to engage so soon after this traumatic event. Take some time and recharge your batteries, and recover.

The sucky part about this is that no matter what, you're paying a price of some sort. If you avoid them, then you're missing out on family. If you eventually try to engage them and see if you can change opinions, that's a lot of effort and stress. If you pretend the problem doesn't exist, then it probably ends up being hurtful to be around them, knowing that they believe these things. This isn't fair. It isn't fair at all. However, it is completely reasonable for you to pick an option that best fits your current ability to cope. Do so and try not to feel bad about it.
posted by jgreco at 2:51 AM on November 10, 2016

Best answer: Avoiding a source of severe stress and anxiety is only "shunning" if you believe that said sources are entitled to a piece of you just because they're related by blood or law.

It's always struck me as rather incongruous that in this world, there are people who can claim to "care" about you and also demand that you actively place yourself into unhealthy, miserable, toxic situations. I don't know whether you-in-particular are experiencing this exact thing, but it seems that such people care more about the idea of family -- the cardboard cutout roles and cultural expectations -- than about the actual family members themselves, the actual human beings.
posted by inconstant at 7:14 AM on November 10, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: A few years ago a relative was mean to my mother over something that wasn't her fault, and loudly uninvited us to Thanksgiving. Though an invitation was eventually extended, we had already made plans to have dinner at Plimouth Plantation, a living history museum where they re-create the early Thanksgiving dinners of the settlers with costumed reenactors. You know, from the time when white people were the immigrants to this country. I think they're pretty much sold out for this year already, unless you want to have dinner on Friday, but I highly recommend the experience.
posted by Soliloquy at 8:38 AM on November 10, 2016

I am a Democrat, but other people are allowed to vote Republican if they want and in fact just as many people do that. Finding that people voted for the other mainstream party is a cause of mild disappointment not horror, and is something that adults should be able to tolerate and joke about.

The trouble is you are framing it as some new abhorrent behavior rather than your relatives voting for the party they always vote for, and in fact behaving as expected.
posted by w0mbat at 10:35 AM on November 10, 2016

Best answer: You could take a break this year and look hopefully forward to next year. One year is going to make a LOT of difference here, and there are very strong indications today that most of the campaign rhetoric will fall by the wayside. But I also agree with w0mbat, I believe that most Republicans voted for Trump on other issues besides immigration reform. It's going to come down to how well you know your family, your desire to maintain family ties, and your capacity for love and forgiveness. I've really tried to put myself in my family's shoes if Democrats had won. Would they still want to see me, still love me, still spend Thanksgiving with me, knowing that I had voted against all they believed in? For me and my family, the answer is yes.
posted by raisingsand at 10:45 AM on November 10, 2016

Best answer: I draw the line at respecting differences when a political standpoint actively calls for harming me, or others, and encouragez that as part of the platform.

Others draw their personal lines elsewhere. I cannot afford to forget that a major political party actively wants to rid the country of people like me.

And actions have consequences. You vote for a xenophobic, racist, rapist, and people are allowed to judge you for that and it is on you to own up to the ramifications of that. Including that people will feel unsafe even if they are the good queer/mexican/black (who then gets used as the 'but I have black friends' excuse).
posted by geek anachronism at 2:19 PM on November 10, 2016 [11 favorites]

Response by poster: Finding that people voted for the other mainstream party is a cause of mild disappointment not horror, and is something that adults should be able to tolerate and joke about.

You're literally telling me that being called a "rapist and a murderer" by the elected leader of the country, based solely on my ethnicity, should only be "mildly disappointing" and something I should be able to "joke about." Your take here is stunningly condescending.

Avoiding that bit of negativity, thanks again to everyone else.
posted by cnc at 2:39 PM on November 10, 2016 [19 favorites]

Can you attend over Skype, and see how it goes?
posted by Baeria at 2:59 PM on November 10, 2016

OK, I do (in fact) have a medical problem that my extended family knows about. It doesn't directly affect my everyday life (nor is it contagious) but it may worsen suddenly and unexpectedly. As a thought experiment only, let's say that a newly elected politician had claimed that people with my disease were untrustworthy or unemployable, I know my family would reach out to me without me having to say a word to them.

So maybe I'm being thick here (quite possible) but it seems to me like your family should be worried about you feeling uncomfortable and making assurances to support you, and being understanding with your decision to attend or not at this difficult time. Please excuse the analogy, they are never perfect. I was just trying to picture a situation which might apply to me someday (you never know, huh?).
posted by forthright at 3:23 PM on November 10, 2016

Just tell them you're sick. You don't have to say it's because you actually care about decency and racism.
posted by benzenedream at 10:56 PM on November 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

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