It is incredibly comfortable to sit down and talk to someone when you know they are on your side.
Your insight is unquestioned.
In fact, it is celebrated.
Your reason is unquestioned.
In fact, it is admired.
It is a privilege to hold another person’s gaze, knowing that you have their respect and their attention. But, this lovely thing is not always and forever.
I am a black woman in science/medicine. As such, I constantly play a game in which I try to qualify and validate my presence to other people.
When I walk into a room, I need to be as intelligent, calm, yet as non-threatening as possible. And, it is a tiring business.
When you hold a minority opinion or experience, it often falls on you to educate the majority, and that again is also a tiring business. Can’t they all just read a book?
So of late, I have tried to minimize these conversations.
You think #BlackLivesMatter activism is dangerous and anti-white? Okay, I cannot have this conversation with you.
You think women are just not cut out to lead a nation? Well that’s sexist and unfounded.
Women who have had abortions should in fact be punished for these offenses. Hopeless.
Islam is incredibly dangerous, and we should have less Muslims in this country. We will be more safe. Insanity.
I have been writing people off because I have lost faith in their capacity to change. So this is what I can do, folks:
I can stay in Massachusetts or never leave Cook county. Surround myself with people who think like me, and bite my tongue instead of having a difficult conversation with that person I vehemently disagree with. I can save my energy, have them like me, and keep the peace. YOU CAN DO THIS TOO.
Most of us do this, actually, and this is a big reason why red states stay red and blue states stay blue. But, this may also be the reason why we are so shocked by the results of this election. This is the danger of likemindedness.
The facts as they stand are that we live in a divided country with divided opinions. We live with people who are more concerned with the sound of their own voices than, the voices they do not hear.
We talk to ourselves and not to each other.
So, on this day when I want to shut down and de-friend EVERY person I know who did not vote for Hillary Clinton or abstained from voting, I’m going to pause.
Because, the minute I give up on the human capacity to change it all ends, hope dies, and progress is impossible.
So I encourage you, friends to not give up hope on what a conversation can do. I can be changed for the better, we can be changed for the better.
We have our work cut out for us for the next four years. Our voices are needed.
DO NOT retreat. Speak.
DO NOT retreat. Listen.
DO NOT retreat. Act.