III. A Conversation Worth Having

#cultra america identity politics president racism social social issues

        It seems all too familiar; tensions rise, names are called, a line is crossed, the story builds endlessly on our cell phone screens. This past week, four congresswomen were told by Donald Trump to “go back” to their “crime infested” countries via his twitter. He did this on a Sunday morning which according to The Guardian, is his “unsupervised time” on the social network. On that Sunday morning, President Trump insinuated that these congresswomen did not have a place representing the people of America- people were angry and uncomfortable.

         I was neither. Of course, I did my usual scroll of twitter and news platforms, and geared my attention to reactions on each side, but I was not angry when I heard this. I was tired. I know, it’s not a fashionable thing to say. When you believe in something, and when you are faced with injustices, you are supposed to fight, and fight, and keep fighting. That is certainly the noble thing to do- but I am tired of doing it. How can I rationalize charging my batteries to 100 per cent for a person that will care 0 per cent?

         This is exactly the kind of apathy that Trump inspires. I grew up an Indian-American girl from New Jersey. I constantly had to answer the question of where I was “from.” I would say New Jersey, knowing the person actually meant to ask what ethnicity I was. In that light, I spent my childhood and teen years answering similarly ungracious questions and it got, well, tiring. I thought that maybe it was just a privilege I did not have; that I have to prove myself to people, and that the world just isn’t fair, so I kept on doing it. I kept on trying to prove myself as an American from New Jersey. The thing is, in answering those questions, I changed at least one person’s perspective on what it means to be American. Through all my frustration with my status as a born-citizen, looking back, this is what stands out.

         I realized I should stop focusing my energy towards him, and instead focus it towards people I can actually talk to. As superhero-movie as this sounds, the fight against an oppressive president is really just a conversation with our neighbor. Whether or not I fully convinced someone across the aisle that I was right, or if they did not completely understand my perspective, I know that I was listened to, and to me that makes a difference.

         President Trump; I breathe your same air, I listen to your same music, I walk your same streets. But, you do not know that, and you do not care. I am not interested in changing your mind or fighting back. I am, however, interested in the people listening to you and nodding their heads, because maybe I can reach out to them. Maybe this means I will have to challenge a close friend- but that is the type of conversation I am not tired of.

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