A few weeks ago, during that weird lapse of time between the insurrection at the Capitol and Joe Biden’s inauguration, I came across a comment my aunt made on her local paper’s Facebook page. Under a link to an opinion piece blaming Donald Trump with inciting the violent mob that attempted to overthrow democracy, she accused the paper of being biased toward the liberal agenda. Her comment, along with those of other irate, conservative citizens, was republished a few days later in a piece the paper wrote on citizens who were upset with how they reported on what happened at the Capitol.
I took several issues with her comment. First off, an opinion piece is, by design, not meant to be neutral. This wasn’t an article written by a reporter for the paper, but an outside reader. And second, the riot at the Capitol is not a story that can be spun multiple ways; a bunch of Nazis, egged on by their fascist leader, descended on a government building in an attempt to stop the counting of the electoral votes in a free and fair election. There’s nothing patriotic or revolutionary about what they did. So, I called her out on Facebook.
For years, I’ve remained quiet in the face of my family’s bigotry. Bringing up George Floyd’s arrest record in an attempt to defend the cop who murdered him. Counseling a family member not to adopt a Black baby because “it would kill her.” Calling LGBTQ+ relationships sinful and disgusting, and referring to transgender individuals as “freaks.” Quoting Breitbart and Fox as their only news sources. Changing their profile pictures to Donald Trump’s face, complete with a red, white, and blue banner (fucking creepy). I put up with it because calling them out isn’t like calling out a stranger online; I’m stuck with these people.
But that’s not okay. It’s cowardly. It’s a slap in the face to the friends and colleagues who are members of those communities mentioned above. It’s giving my family my tacit approval, telling them their behavior is okay, and it’s not.
Unsurprisingly, my Facebook post wasn’t well-received. My aunt texted me a few hours later, furious, and we traded some verbal barbs before I blocked her. My mother (her sister) and I got into a fight, during which I accused her and her husband of being racist pieces of shit (I’ll admit, my language was a bit indelicate — this is years of pent-up frustration, people). Then I blocked her, too. And then I blocked my grandmother (the one who made the Black baby adoption comment) just for good measure.
Because I’m done.
I’m done pretending that their beliefs are anywhere close to approaching the realm of acceptability. It’s not acceptable to support a man who called Mexicans rapists, who barred transgender people from serving in the military, who called a crowd of tiki-torch-wielding white supremacists “good people.”
A few days ago, after several weeks of not speaking to anyone in my family, I received a text from my sister:
“Can you stop being mean to Mom? I don’t like that she’s a Republican either, but you’re not helping anything.”
Oh, sis. This isn’t mean. Blasting bigots is the bare minimum, and it’s what they fucking deserve, cozy family dinners be damned.