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Dear White People, Please Don’t Complain About Going Home for Thanksgiving

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard and read so many pieces by white people complaining about going home for Thanksgiving, and I can’t relate. 

Most of these people are well-meaning liberals who can’t bear the thought of sitting across the table from someone who voted for Donald Trump, whose vote reinforces ableist, misogynistic, and racist violence.  Some are choosing not to go home since they can’t deal with their relatives’ shitty politics. White people who do choose to go home are being showered with resources, including discussion guides for talking about racism and hotlines to call when the conversation turns sour. While such resources are both important and necessary, the attention people using them receive shifts focus away from vulnerable communities.

A few days ago, a friend of mine told me she’s overwhelmed with fear that she’ll lose her Trump-supporting family members. I found it to difficult to show sympathy. She fears losing her racist family members. I fear they will be at the KKK rally celebrating Trump’s victory at home in a few days. She’s upset they’re not spending this Thanksgiving together. Meanwhile, people I love worry this will be their last Thanksgiving in the States and with their families.

As Mahroh wrote a few weeks ago, “today, some people’s fears are more urgent.” But this fanfare over how much it sucks to be a white liberal going home to Trump supporters has drawn attention away from people whose concerns involve being assaulted in public, detained, deported, or forcibly separated from their family members. It ignores the indigenous communities fighting for their homes at Standing Rock among other places; the ongoing violence they face by our imperial state hardly receives similar attention in white press. Furthermore, this discussion on whether white people should choose to go home has ignored the fact that the ability to make that choice is not afforded to all of us. Because of this country’s immigration policies, I’ve been separated from my extended family for eighteen years. Because of Donald Trump’s views on immigration, that may become a reality for many more people.

Holidays are difficult, for some more than others. And it’s important to note that for some white people reading this, the fear of going home may indeed be urgent. Those who are survivors, queer, and trans may, too, need to develop safety plans to protect themselves against assault, harrassment, and violence. This piece is for the white people who won’t need to do this.

White people, obsessing over your own discomfort and displeasure this holiday season ignores the most vulnerable victims of this election. I’m tired of hearing you complain about your problematic families and whether or not you’re going home this year. If you are not personally threatened by Trump’s administration or if—as Mahroh writes—you do not have to worry about having a safety plan right now, step up this Thanksgiving—and don’t try to snag cookies for doing it. Engage with your racist grandmas and cousins. Ditch the performative allyship. Do the work people of color can’t and shouldn’t have to do. And please, stop talking about how terrible this Thanksgiving is for you as a white person because we POC don’t want to hear it.

Header image via FlavorWire

Durham, NC

Barbara is a PhD student in Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina and the co-founder of The Not So Ivory Tower, a blog by and for women of color in academia. She writes about immigration, transnational social movements, and Latinx feminisms. You can peep her work on The Huffington Post, Latina, Vivala, Latino Rebels, and xoJane.

Barbara is a PhD student at UNC. She writes about immigration, transnational social movements, and Latinx feminisms.

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