Confession: I've been shopping for sweet potatoes and green beans for our family gathering while still reeling from the election. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around everything--including how how to avoid unproductive food fights over politics during Thanksgiving dinner and how to turn that time into a way to bridge divides instead. So MomsRising researched how to have productive family conversations over turkey and have some tips below (Scroll down).
Let's face it. Things are not normal. The conversation over cranberry sauce won't be normal either. It feels like our nation has never been as divided. So as we come together at tables across the country this Thursday some will be mourning, some will be celebrating, some will be organizing, and many will be coming together from multiple perspectives on the Presidential candidates all at the same table... but no matter what place you're in, the table talk is sure to include the election.
One good place to start healing the divide is by talking turkey over the cranberry sauce. Here are some suggestions on how to move the conversation forward across the dinner table and nation:
==> Simply ask: "What are you thinking about the election?" Or, as Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) suggests: "I'm feeling really [sad/scared/upset/happy] after this election. How about you?" Studies show that calling people racist, xenophobic, or sexist often leaves them further entrenched in their point of view. If you truly want to move someone to see your perspective and hear your experience, take a deep breath. Try to listen deeply to understand where they're coming from so you can have a genuine dialogue with a greater likelihood of eliciting empathy. That doesn't mean you've lost your moral compass, just that you're listening. You can (and should!) share your perspective when it's your turn.
==> When you share your perspective, share a personal story of how you or a friend has been impacted by the election. Personal stories make space for empathy, and help us connect.
==> Consider sharing how you've struggled with addressing your own bias. Here's a great way to frame this from Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ): "I've realized that even though I work hard to be against sexism/racism/xenophobia/homophobia/anti-Semitism (pick one), I have work to do. For example, one time, I did __________ and I learned/realized __________. Have you had similar experiences?"
These are important conversations: The KKK is planning a celebration parade, hate crimes are up, and one of Trump's first hires was the "alt-right" white supremacist leader, Steve Bannon, as the chief White House strategist and senior counselor. I'm horrified. Meanwhile Hillary Clinton is now nearly 2 million votes up, winning the popular vote; and Donald Trump is still President-elect because he still won the Electoral College. Our nation is divided.
The hateful rhetoric that dominated this election cycle has fomented (with good reason) deep fear among many immigrant families, people of color, women, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, and people of other faiths, LGBTQ+ people, disabled communities, and has created tension within many families. We are a deeply divided nation--but that doesn't mean we can't come to the table with our families this Thanksgiving and try to bridge this gap. In fact, pulling up a chair, sitting down, listening, and talking across divides is more important now than ever before.
Be aware that the turkey talk is just a start. The goal over the cranberry sauce is to open the door for a long-term conversation. It won't be easy, but don't give up. The old adage of "the personal is political" is true. In fact, often times a personal connection is what creates transformation.
It's been a difficult month. This is not Thanksgiving as usual. But one thing I'm certain of is that together moms and people who love them can change hearts, minds, and the world.
This Thanksgiving, I'm committing to starting conversations I'd normally avoid, to being both courageous and kind, and to keep talking past the point of disagreement so we can move our nation table-by-table toward finding a common ground that lifts everyone. I hope you join me.
MomsRising stands with you today, tomorrow, and every day. It's going to take all of us coming together, lifting the nation up, to make sure that ALL families can thrive.