Friends and Politics

This year’s presidential election leaves me feeling disappointed, frustrated, and afraid.

These feelings are not for the United States. I have faith that our country has enough freedom fighters and systems in place that it will be okay.

For me, these feelings surface as I try to understand how some friends could vote for a man who spewed such hate. It is easy enough to scroll past facebook “friends” and their political posts. But what I am having such a hard time resolving is how real friends, people who I love, could get past or ignore such hatred.

At the age of 48, just through natural attrition, I am surrounded mostly by people who love me and have my back. I have always been aware of political differences among my friends. Everyone has a right to vote for who they want. But there was an element of real hate in this campaign. And as it got more hateful, I began asking myself, how did I become friends with people who can so easily dismiss racism?

I am a Filipino immigrant, whose husband is a descendant of slaves, and whose children are bi-racial. In my hesitancy to speak up about anything controversial in daily conversations, did I give the impression that I had no opinion about race? Or that I (or my family) had never experienced any racism?

It’s always been too frustrating to have to explain why something is racist or offensive. When I hear comments like “people are too sensitive” or “all lives matter,” I can never find the right words. I always wish there was someone who was more intelligent or well-versed to explain that racism still exists. Racism is not just something manufactured by overly sensitive people who can’t get over the past.

It scares me that some people in my small community say they love diversity in one breath but also look forward to being able to “not be so politically correct all the time.” What can that possibly mean? Are people looking forward to freely saying offensive things again? Because it felt awful to be called a “chink” back in the day. I pray that’s not the direction we are headed again.

As a stay-at-home mom, I can easily limit my contact with the outside world. I could deactivate my social media accounts. I could surround myself with people who only think the way I do. But that cannot be the answer.

I have to have faith that these friends who love me, really do love me. I believe they are good people. Any difference of opinion really is just that…a difference of opinion. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I haven’t been vocal enough expressing myself when I’ve disagreed with the discussions on race. Maybe my silence gave the impression that I agreed…or worse, had no opinion.

So moving forward, I have to find my voice. I have to make it absolutely clear when something is offensive, hateful, or hurtful. I must speak out against hate. Now is not the time to be silent.