For reasons we're all keenly aware, this year's Thanksgiving holiday might test our limits of patience and understanding a little more than usual.
To get through the meal, or your relatives' stay, as peacefully as possible, putting a ban on any and all political talk might be the only option for some families. Others, meanwhile, might be choosing not
to sit down for dinner with their politically-opposed family members (including one Spokane woman recently interviewed
by the New York Times
). And then there are families who might openly welcome a discussion of America's volatile political beliefs in an attempt to understand just why Uncle Billy or cousin Sally voted for their candidate of choice.
We've been seeing lots of helpful advice on this matter in the past couple days; so let's review.
The nonprofit anti-hate group Showing Up for Racial Justice
has outlined some tips for bringing up the election
and the subsequent concerns many of us feel with a nagging sense of urgency. A new splash page replacing the organization's home page
explicitly encourages white Americans to prompt tough conversations with other white people about racial justice. There is a printable discussion guide
, and even a holiday hotline (text line, rather, but if you're really stuck, a representative can be available for a coaching call) that offers helpful talking points to get conversation back on track and productive.
"All white folks need to talk about racial justice this year, including those of us who see ourselves as progressive. Those conversations are opportunities to discuss what we can do to address racism in ourselves and our communities, and to challenge the scapegoating of other white people — especially working class white folks or those living in rural or rust belt towns," the discussion guide reads.
If that approach seems too extreme or touchy for your family and friends, the New York Times'
election podcast The Run-Up
compiled a series of questions
to help people understand how those closest to them could subscribe to widely diverging views on politics and social issues. The LA Times
also published a four-part advice column
to help readers get through this first post-election holiday. One suggestion there is to postpone any political talk until after dinner, thus easing pressure if not everyone present feels comfortable participating.
The main takeaways: belittling people with opposing views, no matter their position, is not productive or effective. Listen to what someone has to say
and don't interrupt them, even if you disagree. The most productive and effective way to bridge this national dichotomy is to respectfully listen to each other with open minds. Also, remember that you're unlikely to suddenly change someone's mind. But talking about how you feel, and why, is the first step to coming to a collective understanding and a compromise.