Five Reasons I Unfriended The Trump Supporters In My Life
I’ve seen a lot of calls on social media for those of us who are fighting bigotry in all its forms to maintain close contact with the Trump supporters in our lives. These posts, memes, and links typically urge us not to segregate ourselves into a liberal bubble, and that Trump supporters need to see us as examples modeling acceptance and inclusion in ways that perhaps they have not always done. What’s more, they urge us as allies to use our privilege to educate other privileged people so that the burden doesn’t fall to oppressed groups alone.
I think this is fine advice. If people want to do that, I think they should. However, I have chosen to cut social media ties with Trump-supporting friends and family, and I think I have good reasons to do so.
1. The fight against bigotry did not start on November 9, 2016.
Like many others, during the run-up to Election Day, I was involved in a great many conversations online with friends and family about the importance of keeping Donald Trump out of office. This included a lot of talk about the ways that Trump was attempting to use bigotry to win votes. I went ten rounds with my conservative, Republican, and Trump-supporting contacts on whether Trump is racist, whether it’s acceptable to vote for Trump even if you personally don’t feel yourself to be doing so for hateful reasons, and whether Trump would actually enact racist, homophobic, anti-semitic, islamophobic, misogynistic, or anti-immigrant policies if he were elected.
Many of my Trump supporting friends and family are people who I had been attempting to educate on social justice issues for many years. They are people whose racist anti-Obama memes I called out. They are people whose racial slurs or so-called jokes I refused to tolerate. They are people who I have had many conversations with over years, sometimes even decades, about why it’s important to support and be an ally to those who are different from us.
November 9, 2016, was not the beginning of a conversation with the bigots in my life. It was the beginning of my refusal to excuse their hate any longer. When I learned that my months, years, and even decades of open dialogues with these loved ones had come to nothing, I decided it was time to stop coddling their feelings by calling their bigotry anything else but bigotry.
2. We’re already being tuned out.
This election was not the first time in American history that hate has been at the forefront of a national discussion. The list of liberation movements, anti-discrimination campaigns, and calls for justice is too long to list here. We fought a war over whether racialized chattel slavery was acceptable (the answer was no, by the way). At every turn, those of us who are fighting to end hate in this country have had to fight against people who are, at minimum, apathetic about it.
People who voted to elect Trump announced, with that support, that they aren’t interested in any of that. They have said with their votes that they despise even our most basic attempts at equality. They do not want progress. They want to return to some idyllic past when they were free to deny the rights of others. Trump supporters aren’t naive babies who never heard of bigotry until this past week. Even those who voted for Trump “despite” his message of hate communicated to the rest of the country that eradicating racism (and all the rest) isn’t important to them.
They’re the ones who are rejecting us and shutting down dialogue.
3. There should be some consequences for spewing hate.
I think anyone reading this would agree that it’s bad to be a bigot, and that hate shouldn’t be rewarded. Why then, are we willing to reward hateful friends and family members with our continued support? Why does my high school friend who wants to persecute Muslims believe that he is entitled to a relationship with me? Why does my right-wing family member believe that she has a right to plaster my social media feed with racist screeds, and if I unfriend her, I am in the wrong?
My fiancé and I are planning a wedding for early next year. Even before the election, we had decided not to invite a few openly racist family members, because, as I put it, “Not getting to attend a fun party is a small price to pay for being a bigot”.
Trump supporters are not entitled to our friendship, our support, or the benefits that come with having cool progressive connections.
4. Our energy is needed elsewhere.
I have spent much of the last week beginning the hard work that is needed to fight Trump’s hateful policies from the moment he takes office in January. Maintaining any of the progress we have achieved in this country will require constant work, more than any one individual can do. We have four years of governmental whack-a-mole ahead of us. The fight is long. Many people will become burnt out. I have chosen to prioritize this labor over coddling the Trump supporters in my life.
Furthermore, I have chosen to do what I can to stand with the people who will bear the worst of Trump’s policies. The people who deserve my attention right now are my friends and family who are people of color, women, queer, transgender, religious minorities, and immigrants.
Trump supporters are not on my list of priorities. If they want to begin the journey of standing against hate, they know where the library is, and that I’m fighting to keep it open for them.
5. Self-Care is important.
In addition to working to preserve the vision of the United States that more than half of Americans share, and in addition to supporting the people in my life who will need it far more than a white guy in Texas who just really thinks abortion is the worst, I also need to take care of myself. If I don’t want to have arguments in favor of equality and against bigotry that span several days, I don’t have to. If I don’t want to engage with “but the liberals want to take away my guns” for the umpteenth time in my thirty-five years on this planet, I don’t have to. If I don’t want to stand by as the lives of people I love are cheapened, I don’t have to.
Like many people, I come to social media to watch cute videos of kittens, find out about the funny thing my friend’s toddler said, promote my latest comedy show, and see what my fellow nerds thought of last night’s episode of Game Of Thrones. I never asked for a barrage of hateful arguments with people who have no interest in educating themselves or changing their views, and so I am choosing not to subject myself to it any longer.