My Family Supports a Man I Despise

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Background.

Growing up as one of seven children in rural North Dakota, I don’t recall directly discussing politics. However, pieces of my memories can be put together to reveal my family member’s views. It is not a pretty picture. Racism and hypocritical, conservative religious beliefs are blatantly clear. Intolerance disguised as “Christian” and “American” values underlays the dialogue.

We rarely encountered a person who didn’t appear to be caucasian or profess to be Christian.

It wasn’t merely ignorance of other races or beliefs. They made explicitly racist comments and jokes. I understand that my family lacked exposure to diversity. We rarely encountered a person who didn’t appear to be caucasian or profess to be Christian. However, I don’t feel that excuses racism coming from my “role models.”

To give you an idea, I’m in my thirties. This was not the 1950’s! Parents telling racist jokes and commenting disapproval of interracial couples (including my cousin’s relationship) doesn’t instill compassion for differences in a child.

Setting boundaries and terminating unhealthy relationships are parts of the process.

Thankfully I moved to a metropolis, Minneapolis, after graduating high school. For the first time, I was immersed in diversity. My lack of experience came to the forefront during college. Over the years I’ve continued to explore and grow, to make mistakes and experience misunderstandings, and to learn.

For any human actively pursuing self awareness and personal growth, this will be a lifetime process. Setting boundaries and terminating unhealthy relationships are parts of the process. When the offending people are family members, though, it is more complicated to cut ties.

Respect and trust are earned over time, through actions and words.

I have remained the only person in my family living an urban lifestyle. We have vastly different priorities and views when choosing politicians to support. I can respect people with different values and perspectives. However, I can not respect a leader who does not behave respectfully toward fellow humans. Respect and trust are earned over time, through actions and words. The president has not earned mine and I can not agree with my family members who support him.

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash

Broken.

Although I was determined not to let politics affect our relationships, it is happening largely because I breached the subject myself. I realized it is not just political. The country is being led by a person who openly disrespects my core values and human rights.

It felt too important not to speak up, loudly and clearly stating my opposition. Ignoring my family’s support of a person I despise was enabling their behavior. No more Mrs Nice Girl. It’s time to fight for what I believe in, or perhaps more accurately, against what I don’t believe in.

Their hateful, close-minded beliefs are pouring out.

Since I openly opposed their beloved leader, my family has added more potent fuel to my fire. Their hateful, close-minded beliefs are pouring out. One family member, let’s call him Jim, recently said some people don’t belong here and that “everyone who comes to live here should adopt the American way of life or get out.”

Let me be clear, Brother Jim: Our ancestors were not born here. They were immigrants, not that many generations ago. It’s likely that our great grandfather fled Germany because he was Jewish. If he wasn’t allowed to come to America you and I wouldn’t exist.

Our family’s story is not so different than people seeking refuge here today, except for skin color.

We are a mixture of German, English, and Irish descent. They are all caucasian cultures, but they are definitely not of American origin. Check a map: Germany, England and Ireland are not located on the continent of North America. Our family’s story is not so different than people seeking refuge here today, except for skin color. You may as well say what you mean, Jim. You believe people should adopt the “White American” way of life or go back to where they came from. The lack of compassion is intolerable.

Preventing me from contacting my nephew feels cruel.

One example of our family breaking apart is that I’ve been banned from contacting my nephew’s cell phone. His father said, “I have no time, sympathy, or love for some bleeding heart who thinks everyone can get along… Some people don’t belong here. Some people are evil.” I think it’s clear that “some people” equates to “people who are not white.”

I have not communicated with my young nephew about politics, religion, or anything even vaguely related. The Happy Halloween message I sent could not have been misconstrued. Preventing me from contacting my nephew feels cruel and unrelated to my differences with his dad.

Support a candidate who isn’t openly opposed to basic human rights.

Another family member thinks the options are to either support Trump or support “Baby Killers,” to quote her words. My response: Choose a different anti-abortion politician if that is important to you, one who actually appears to care about human lives. Personally, the climate crisis is my top priority. Nothing else matters if the planet can’t support life.

Furthermore, I’m not convinced Trump is in fact opposed to killing babies. “I’m very pro-choice,” Trump said in an interview with Tim Russert in 1999. It seems he started claiming to be Pro-Life so that he could run for office as a Republican. The history of his stance on the issue is outlined in many sources, including the one linked below.

Pro-Life or Pro-Choice labels aside, Trump does not portray himself as compassionate toward children or humans in general. Listen to how he speaks about immigrants and look at how their children are treated based on his policies. Imagine your spouse, daughter, niece, or granddaughter were victims of his sexual assaults. Finally, support a candidate who isn’t openly opposed to basic human rights. Then we can talk. As long as you’re praying for my soul while voting for evil, I have nothing to say to you.

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