I have a big, big favor to ask of all of you particularly my white friends: please talk to your friends and relatives who support Trump.
I don’t know many people who support Trump. If you are excited by the idea or even can tolerate the idea of a Muslim ban, that means you don’t care that if me and my family go visit India to see our family, we may not be able to come back to our homes. If you support or can tolerate the idea of deportation squads trying to deport 11 million people, that means you don’t care that me and my mom and dad and brother could be stopped, questioned, and detained at any time until some new law enforcement person decides they believe our status. Things are already bad — and have been bad — for Latinos, Black people, and other people of color. Trump wants to tangibly make things worse, to dramatically increase the intensity and scope of the fear people of color already have, to put dramatically more resources, and insanely ambitious new policies and personnel behind questioning, imprisoning, deporting, and executing people of color.
Trump has been all over the map in the articulation of his policies, so to some of you this may sound like an exaggeration. But the ideas Trump’s playing with are extreme, life and death for us, and my parents, my little cousins, my family, can’t take that risk. If you care at all about me, you wouldn’t take the risk either.
Which is why the vast majority of you, the people I know, aren’t voting for Trump either. Trump probably isn’t going to win, but what’s scary is that he will get at least 40% of the vote. Trump, a historically bad candidate, a disgusting bully and sexual predator who can barely string sentences together, will get more than 40% of the vote. Can you imagine a smarter, more disciplined, more conventionally presentable candidate trying to win over that 40% of the country to get the Republican nomination? I don’t want to fear for my life and my family’s life every two years from here on out.
I don’t know many in that 40%, because I’d like to think if they knew me, they’d decide not to put me and my loved ones in such tangibly increased danger. That’s part of the issue, one of the factors that predicts Trump support is not only race, but also how isolated people are. Almost all of my friends living in Ames are not supporting Trump, but in general, Trump leads among people who live in their hometowns (http://ift.tt/2dgL4ZT). They’re hard to reach, and they may not know as many people who have a lot to lose with these ideas.
So I’m asking you to reach out to the people that I can’t reach. I know that many of you think that you’ll never convince the people in your lives of anything about politics, but you — someone they know well and love — have a better chance than anyone else. For many of us it’s not just about politics, it’s tangibly about our safety and the safety of our families. You know them better than any article or factcheck I could post, you can listen and empathize and figure out the thing that will work for that individual. I’ve watched many of you on facebook have really intense and sometimes painful conversations with your loved ones about these issues and I really appreciate how emotionally difficult, insanely frustrating, and brave that is to do with people who are close to you. I know that it’s hard but I’m asking you to do what you can to break through into their bubbles and to figure out the best way to reach them with the compassion and understanding that you have for them.
This article is a terrifying illustration of the alternate realities we live in. This election has taught me just how extreme almost half the country’s beliefs are. Those people will have those beliefs after the election — they’ll probably be stronger — and we’ll have to continue to deal with ideas like Muslim bans, deportation forces, national stop and frisk, and punishing women for their reproductive choices. I don’t know how to break these bubbles in a systemic way, but one step might be to reach out to someone who identifies as a Trump supporter and connect with them through your familial or old friend ties and have a conversation. One tactic that I’m asking you to try in this moment of national conversation around these issues is to talk to them sincerely about how these policies can harm people you care about, to try to break through the talking points, memes, rebuttals, and accusations, to make a human connection. Because ultimately there will be human costs unless we make those human connections.