The Winter Holidays -- Hanukkah, Christmas, Solstice, New Year's, and more -- are upon us, and for many that means sharing space with people who may not share our values...or at least not yet. SURJ has put together this discussion guide to support honest and productive conversations about racism, Trump, and more.
We’ll help you out with some key talking points that tend to come up in these tough conversations. If you get *really* stuck, we’ll even hop on the phone with you for a short 1:1 coaching call. It’s vital for white people to break white silence about the danger of Trump’s presidency -- we we’ll make sure you have the tools you need to have those conversations over the holidays!
If you do not have texting services, please call (201) 691- SURJ (7875) and leave a message. You will get a call back as soon as our hotline volunteers can respond!
- 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 and/or White folks living in rural or rust belt towns.
- Conversations aren’t about proving yourself right, they are about changing hearts and minds and building relationships.
- Drop shaming, blaming, and stereotypes.
- Be prepared to listen, especially when you don’t agree. Be sure you aren’t just waiting to plan a response.
- We can shift opinion through deep, engaged listening and ongoing exchanges. End when the conversation is in a place of agreement, and revisit it again later.
- Many people will not be reached with statistics, a framework of “white privilege” or “systems of oppression,” particularly rural, poor, and working class people. Use language and references that more people relate to, including examples & personal stories, if you feel it is safe for you to do so.
- Online only goes so far. Once things get tense, take the conversation off of Facebook, email, or text message. Meet in person or have a phone call.
"We are not going to talk about politics this holiday season"
- Some families may feel that the holidays are not the time to have honest and potentially challenging conversations. Here are some ways to get the conversation started:
- When someone asks about how you are doing, say, "I am feeling really [sad/scared/upset] knowing that the Presidential inauguration is coming up."
- "I feel nervous to bring this up, but I think we really need to have a conversation about what the next four years might look like."
- "What are you thinking about a Trump presidency?"
- It also may be helpful to remember that our holidays are shaped by stories of oppression, liberation, and solidarity.
- Hanukkah means "dedication," and serves as a reminder that we need to dedicate ourselves to our communities and justice.
- Christmas is a celebration of a poor child of color who would become a hunted refugee. Part of honoring Jesus is telling his full story.
"Everyone is just being so Politically Correct"
- Can you tell me more about what you mean when you say "political correctness"?
- Social norms change all of the time, and we are always learning how to treat one another better. I think that is okay, even when it means I have to change how I do something.
- What you are describing is very different from what I see in my school/work/organization/neighborhood
- If language or policies are really hurtful to people, how would you like them to address it?
"Black Lives Matter is anti-Semitic, and so are other leftist groups opposing Trump."
- I believe that people can be critical of Israel and not anti-semitic. We can care about Palestinian people and what they are going through, and people who are Jewish at the same time.
- Many Jewish organizations are supporting the Movement for Black Lives.
- Anti-Semitism is a big concern to me. Some people in Trump’s cabinet and staff, like Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, have made anti-Semitic remarks and are being opposed by Jewish faith groups. What are your thoughts about that?
"There is a War on Christmas"
- I feel like it is important that we remember the Unites States is built on the idea of freedom of religion. When people say Happy Holidays to me, I appreciate that they are not making assumptions about who I am or what I believe.
- Have you ever been in a place where you were the different one?
- Do you know anyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas?
- Happy holidays is a way to include everyone in our joy.
- Many Christians came to America because they could not celebrate their faith in other countries, and we set up our government to welcome people of different faith backgrounds because of that reason. When someone celebrates their traditions, it doesn't make Christian traditions or any other tradition any less. One of our constitutional principles is that people can practice different faiths, or no faith, and still be neighbors.
"I'm not a racist for supporting Trump."
- I'm really happy to hear you say that you are against racism. I'm worried because I've heard Trump say things about Muslims, immigrants, and people of color. I understand that you don't agree. Have you thought about ways to show people of color that you're with them?
- I appreciate you saying that. Do you think there are any people who have taken what Trump has said as permission to do things you think are racist? Your voice will probably count more than mine with people who listen to him, because you supported Trump. Have you thought about what you might say or do if you did see Trump making racist policies, or saw that the way he is talking is creating dangerous conditions for other people? What could cross a line for you & make you feel like it is important to speak up?
- What brought you to vote for Trump?
"I didn’t vote for Trump -- I can’t believe how racist the rest of America is."
- White people across demographic groups voted for Trump, including majorities of White voters making over $50,000 a year and White women. It seems like voting wasn’t enough to stop him, and that the more we scapegoat other people, especially working-class, poor, and/or rural White people, the more powerful he gets. Our community has racism we need to speak out to change too, for example: ___________. There was even a time that I __________.
- If we want to resist Trump, progressive White people will be more effective if we listen better & follow the lead of organized people of color. If doing what we’ve been doing was effective, he wouldn't have won the election.
- I am really proud that my friends/family took a stance against Trump. Now more than ever it feels really important to get more involved in work to make sure that he is not able to do what he has said he will do. How are you going to get involved?
- Offer suggestions like:
- Donating money or hosting a fundraiser
- Attending meetings or events
- Contacting elected officials
- Starting a group in their community
- Bringing racial justice conversations to their school, work, congregation or other community
"We don't know how Trump is going to act when he gets into office."
- We've seen from Trump's cabinet appointments and first 100 Day Plan that he is serious about policies that will be devastating to communities of color.
- Are you concerned about how afraid people, specifically people of color, are feeling?
- What would you do if you were an immigrant or Muslim person right now?
"Trump is the only one who cares about rural America."
- Trump made a lot of promises to rural America, and now he is already showing that he has no intention of following through. Since winning the election, Trump has said that infrastructure is not going to be a major component of his first few years.
- How do you feel that he has changed his promise to rural communities?
"Trump has plans to grow the economy in the next four years. He will be good for working people."
- I really want to see better-paying jobs and more opportunities, but I have doubts that Trump cares about the same things we do. He's actually argued that wages are too high, that unions are bad, and is known for mistreating workers in his own businesses. His tax plan will give the wealthiest people tax breaks, and have very bad impacts on the economy.
- What are your hopes for our economy?
- How do we know Trump is being honest?
"We need to respect the results of the election."
- I am not arguing with the results of the election.
- I do not believe we should be able to vote about whether or not people have access to basic human rights, like the ability to feel safe and practice our freedom of religion.
- Do you think we should be able to vote on one another’s safety?
"The media is lying."
- I often have a hard time trusting some media sources, too.
- What media sources do you trust? Why?
- What are you hearing that you think is untrue?
"Trump will keep us safe."
- Since Trump's election, Muslims, Latina/o/x folks, LGBTQ people, and others have experienced violence hate crimes and threats. Students are being harassed in their schools. I feel like Trump’s language, promises, and policies make us less safe.
- What makes you feel unsafe?