Issue 2.3 – Nonfiction

Let us pausefor a moment and pray. (29)

 

The news was ablaze last week with the news of the rapper Eminem drawing a line in the sand through his freestyle video at the BET awards, insisting his fans choose between him and Trump.

I completely related to and understand his actions. While I remain friends with people who have made the decision to back Trump, I drew the line in the sand with family members, some of whom have never voted before, who suddenly became huge Trump fans last year.

I only have two outspoken Trump-supporting friends. I have other friends who voted for him, but no one else has ever talked about it openly. These two women are passionate in their views.

I respect their reasons even if I don’t agree with them. One is a former military wife and mom; one is the grandmother of two former Marines. One has a husband in law enforcement; one has a grandson in law enforcement.

They trust Trump to make the best decisions for their family members. While disagreeing about the best course for the nation, I completely understand the concept of standing beside the person you think is best for your family, which is why my reaction to family members who brought our nation to this treacherous point is different than my reaction to friends who revere the man in the White House.

I’ve severed ties with family members who stand with Trump.

I have a daughter who is gay and has epilepsy, a pre-existing condition she’ll have for the rest of her life.

I have beloved friends and former students who are gay Americans, like my daughter, and deserve the right to marry.

I have a young adult son who is on his stepparent’s health insurance at the age of 24.

I have African-American friends who are forced to explain to their children how not to get killed by the police.

My son’s wife is Hispanic. My grandson has an Hispanic heritage.

Need I quantify the ways in which Trump seeks to hurt my family and my community?

He called people, like my daughter-in-law’s family members who came to this country from Mexico, drug dealers and rapists. My daughter-in-law’s family is filled with loving, extremely productive members of society. My grandson will have to grow up knowing his president said this about his heritage.

Trump has stated continually that he supports traditional marriage. He’s on record in interviews stating his opposition to same sex marriage in 2011, 2015, and 2016.  He selected a Vice Presidential candidate who has supported using government funds to support gay conversion therapy, a harmful practice.  His list of possible Supreme Court nominees contains many anti-LGBTQ candidates.

Last week, because he could not get Congress to act effectively on dismantling Obamacare, he signed an executive order that could prevent my daughter from having healthcare, allowing insurers to sell and employers to buy bare bones policies that do not cover pre-existing conditions. A source in the White House says that it should take six months to take effect. In six months, will my 19-year-old college student with epilepsy have coverage for her medications?  For her trips to the ER when she has a seizure?

Trump’s mocking of a reporter with a disability is painful scene I’ll never forget.  Even though the man he was mocking did not have epilepsy, the then-candidate’s mocking was bullying behavior, an attempt to make someone feel “less than” by making fun of him in a crowd for a disability.  As a mother of a child with a disability, his behavior was difficult to stomach.

Prior to Obamacare, young adults could only stay on their parents’ health insurance until age 22. Obamacare raised the age to 26.  What will the effects on this protection be if Trump succeeds in dismantling the first significant health care legislation that can protect those citizens who most need healthcare?

I could go on ad infinitum. When family members declared and continue to declare their ardent belief in Trump, they turn their backs on the essential rights of my children. That feels like betrayal.

I discovered my formerly Hillary-supporting mother had switched her allegiance to Trump when she posted her support for him on Facebook. I felt punched in the gut. I called my mother in tears, explaining all the ways he would harm my family.

Her response: “I thought Trump liked gay people!”  That was her only justification and while she stopped posting on Facebook about him, she and my sister continued to support him.

We are now estranged, but I hope she sees what Trump’s Attorney General Jeff Sessions did recently, rolling back protections for the LGBTQ community in the workplace, giving employers the right to discriminate against gay people in the name of religious freedom of course.

Yes, Mom, your president seems to really care about the gay community.

Both of my adult children supported and voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary; I was a Clinton supporter. I accepted their choices without argument beyond good-natured debate because Sanders didn’t have an agenda seeking to harm our family and others that we love. I respected their decisions and their belief in Sanders.

Close family members who subscribe to Trump’s harmful agenda and rhetoric require a different response. For me, not speaking out against their continued endorsement of this man would send a message of complicity in his reckless and hurtful actions and words. I imagine Eminem felt similarly about his fans.

I expected loyalty from my family. Family protects the weakest among them. I guess my Trump-loving family members see their racism, hate, and semi-automatic weapons as more important.

Painful as it was, I drew my line in the sand.  Yes, we need to unite as a country and find common ground, but not at the sake of legitimizing hate, normalizing misogyny, and justifying the behavior of a bully.

 

logoJennifer Gregory is a former teacher and school librarian who lives in rural Texas.  She is the proud mother of two adult children and the grandmother of one perfect grandson.  She now shares her home with her beloved, but neurotic Dogue de Bordeaux. Read more of her daily rants at jenscreamsattheabyss.wordpress.com.

 

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