I screamed ALL the “WHY”s and ALL the “WTF”s when my mom told me she’s voting for Trump two minutes into our phone conversation. I hoped that she was joking, but I’ve never heard her crack a joke my entire life, so I’m pretty sure her first one wasn’t going to be about elections 2016.
I’ve heard of these people… these ignorant, socially blind people who are brainwashed into rigid, small-town mindsets that paint Trump as a bright orange savior here to “make American great again” (when it was ever “great,” especially for immigrants like my mom, I’d love to know).
I’ve heard of these people, but I didn’t think I entered the world through one of their clamshells.
Quick backstory, that’s probably similar to a lot of AAPI kids/kids of immigrants: My mom grew up in a Presbyterian preacher’s household in a small village in South Korea, while I grew up in diverse neighborhoods in the South and moved to LA as soon as I could.
My mom thinks that CNN, Fox and other big media are run by the illuminati, so her only source of current events is the Korean newspaper she picks up during her weekly trip to H-Mart, along with the occasional obscure YouTube link she’s sent by her church friends of someone’s homemade conspiracy theory documentary.
“Trump is the right choice. Hillary can’t be trusted. She deleted all those e-mails.”
“Mother. Hillary may have deleted e-mails, but Trump is talking about grabbing pussies and wasting billions of our tax monies on a racist wall. He is a BAD MAN.”
I could have expanded, but my Korean only takes me so far. All I could say was “he’s a bad, bad man” in Korean over and over again to emphasize my unwavering hatred for the sashimi-headed GOP nom.
Our phone conversation took a deep dive into muddy waters, and I knew there was no hope for agreement when she started quoting Bible verses to condemn my lifestyle choices.
“This is a woman who has sacrificed finances, sanity, maybe even her identity to make sure I had a better life than she did in Korea.”
Saying all this makes my mom seem like a monster. A three-headed dragon spewing fire fueled by right-wing beliefs she developed from church chats and from having even more conservative parents. But she isn’t a monster! She’s the woman who single-handedly raised my sister and me, the woman who picked us up from school with homemade meals in bear-shaped lunch boxes. This is a woman who has sacrificed finances, sanity, maybe even her identity to make sure I had a better life than she did in Korea.
When I hung up on her mid-scripture, my anxiety was as high as Wiz Khalifa’s THC level on 4/20. HOW THE FUCK AM I RELATED TO A TRUMP SUPPORTER?!
How am I supposed to prevent her from making an uneducated mistake next month? How am I supposed to share my perspective and open her mind when I literally don’t have enough words in her language to explain?
Almost every conversation with Oma about race, politics, dating, work, finances… ok pretty much EVERY conversation with Oma ends in a hurried and annoyed goodbye.
By now, I’ve had enough of these conversations to accept my mom as someone who will never understand me, and vice versa.
“How am I supposed to prevent her from making an uneducated mistake next month?”
When we go a while without talking, sometimes I feel guilty for not trying harder. I think that maybe I should have a come-to-Jesus moment with her until I realize the Jesus she’s known for 50+ years is not changing form anytime soon.
I don’t know if it’s fair of me to call her ignorant and try to change her views, when I know there’s no way in all of heaven and hell she’d change mine. She grew up in completely different times under completely different circumstances. Of course her way of seeing the world is different from mine.
As AAPIs have become more vocal online re: social issues, there’s been this “call to action” to talk to our often *racist* family. Like this crowdsourced letter talking about the importance of standing up for black lives ― it’s an amazing initiative, and effective in theory for semi-open minded parents. But for my quick-witted, 50-years-of-thinking-this-way mom, a conversation trying to convince her out of her views induces way more unnecessary anxiety than I can handle.
Maybe one day, I’ll find the words and the wax on/wax off patience to get through a political discussion with her.
In the meantime, I’ll be communicating with her via text only until after the elections.