Leslie Salas: When You Need to Break Bread with Voters from the Other Side

BY LESLIE SALAS

Originally published on The Gloria Sirens.

We’re in that weird space between last week’s election and next week’s day of Thanks. And in that middle space, we’ve all had to face some uncomfortable feelings about our nation, our communities, and even our friends and family–especially as we gear up for some potential awkwardness, discomfort, or downright hostility and fear around the turkey and stuffing. Many open letters have been written in the aftermath of this election as a way of dealing with these feelings, and many of them seem to be written toward daughters about their uncertain futures. One of the letters that stands out to me the most is Mira Jacob’s letter to her son.

In her letter, Jacob relates how being brown impacted her life in post-9/11 America and speculates as to how it will continue to impact her life–and the life of her half-brown little boy–in the wake of Trump’s win. In particular, she discusses a conversation she had with her 8-year-old prior to the election:

Your father’s parents are Republicans living in Florida. For years, this had led to the kind of dinner discussions we’ve all tried to avoid, with your father devolving into righteous incoherence as your grandmother cites Fox News references. But even though he falls far from the tree, your grandparents love your father dearly, and he loves them back. With you, they are gentle, funny, loving, and wise, which I think is maybe why you’ve been so confused as national events have played out. In the last few months, your questions have become particularly acute.

“Grandma and Grandpa are really voting for Trump?”

“Last I heard, yes.”

“But aren’t they scared that Trump is racist?”

“I don’t think they think of him that way.”

“So he’s not racist?”

“No, he is, but…I think they don’t really look at that part. They are voting for him for other reasons that make sense to them.”

“But won’t they be scared for us if he wins?”

“Your grandparents love you a lot.”

“But what if—”

“A lot.”

And then in bed that night, just when I thought you’d conked out, “But can’t you just ask Grandma and Grandpa not to vote for Trump? Can’t you say, please, you live in Florida, do it for us?”

I said no quickly and firmly and we had to read a whole other book just to get you to go to sleep. But that night, when you were sleeping, I typed up an email. Dear Mom and Dad, I wrote. I made the best case I could. Please, I wrote, for us. I cried as I wrote it. I read it three times to make sure it was the absolute best letter I was capable of writing. Then I deleted it because the only thing worse than having to beg them to imagine our lives would be hearing them say no.

As a Floridian person of color and new mom to a biracial little boy, I faced the same dilemma as Jacob over and over again.

 

Read the rest of Leslie’s post here:

When You Need to Break Bread with Voters from the Other Side

 

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