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Don't Apologize for Talking Politics

As we enter the height of the holiday season, you may find yourself across the dinner table from friends and family who do not share your views on the election or who don’t want to talk about the incoming administration. Some of us may be chomping at the bit to get into an argument, and some will shy away under the pretense of holiday appeasement. Let’s have constructive conversations with everyone about what’s at stake for all of us under the Trump administration. And let’s not apologize for talking politics! This is our future we’re talking about.

What you can do

1. EMPATHY IS THE FIRST STEP and it is the hardest part of talking across difference. Fear is felt on both sides of this political divide and it is very hard to be open to new ideas when someone is fearful. Work towards empathy and finding common ground with those you disagree with. “If you are able to accept someone and validate how they see the world, even if it’s contrary to your own view, then they might actually stop feeling so threatened with you. And then, you could actually have a conversation with them about what they’re so scared about.”

2. VOICE YOUR CONCERNS clearly and advocate for yourself. Those who voted for Trump may not have taken his racist, sexist, and extremist speech seriously then, but don’t let them ignore it now.

3. THESE CONVERSATIONS ARE THE LONG GAME. You won’t change anyone’s mind over dinner or even a holiday weekend, but if you are able to direct the conversation towards an environment of tolerance, then you are at a good place for continued future conversations.

4. READ this conversation toolkit if you're a white person, which includes tips for speaking up for racial justice.

5. TEXT SOS TO 82623 if you get stuck with the above and SURJ will send you talking points to help you through these tough conversations (they'll even jump on a call to coach you through).

6. IF YOU ABSOLUTELY DO NOT FEEL PREPARED TO SIT DOWN WITH FAMILY OR IN-LAWS WHO SUPPORTED TRUMP, IT'S OK TO STAY AWAY THIS YEAR. If you do, it's important to tell them, unemotionally if possible, that you love them but that you feel hurt and scared and that their vote was one that affects you (or your friends) personally, and therefore feels like a personal affront, so you don't feel prepared to share a meal with them at this moment. Dan Savage says that our only leverage as adults is our presence in our family's lives, and when we use it we need to let them know that. A therapist we consulted also said its important to state your feelings about this situation clearly, but then avoid falling down the rabbit hole into a fight. So be clear, be kind, and let them know that their actions have consequences.