If you need help with your Thanksgiving turkey, there’s a hotline for that. Now there’s one for your Thanksgiving dinner conversation, too.
That’s the idea behind Showing Up for Racial Justice’s Holiday Mobile Hotline , now in its second year. Created for white Americans who want to help fight for a more racially just society, SURJ’s hotline is a great resource to have handy for potentially awkward race-related dinner-table conversations during upcoming holidays.
“We thought it up last year after hearing so many white folks truly freaking out about insuring family after Trump was elected, ” explains SURJ co-director Heather Cronk in an e-mail. “The original idea was built on the Butterball hotline — the service provided by Butterball turkey each Thanksgiving to help folks get answers to their turkey-cooking questions.”
We’ve gotten loads of questions about it, so we’re launching our Holiday Hotline again this year! If you get stuck in dialogue with household over Thanksgiving, merely text SOS to 82623 and we’ll help you out!( You can also text to 82623 if “youd prefer” emojis !) pic.twitter.com/ KnH8lAGRKI
— ShowUp4RacialJustice (@ ShowUp4RJ) November 20, 2017
You simply text “SOS” to 82623, and SURJ will forward some key talking points that might come up in conversation.
The goal isn’t to treat this as some sort of ideological combat to be won against a sworn foe( these are your family members, after all) but to provide you with the tools necessary to keep dialogue productive by asking a question. Once you text the number, you’ll be inspired with a menu of topics ranging from immigration to sexual assault.
For example, if you select the topic ” Trump isn’t racist, ” SURJ will reply with a question you can ask your relative: “That’s confounding to me because I’ve heard Trump say things about people of color that sound racist, and he has surrounded himself with people who are racist. Are there things he’s said that you disagree with? “
The whole process is quick and simple enough that you can easily just send a text during a bathroom violate or under the table during a pause in the conversation.
As hard and as awkward as these conversations can be, it’s important we don’t shy away from them. Silence is a statement of its own.
If you have a legitimate reason to fear your family — perhaps you’re LGBTQ in an unaccepting household or the survivor of violence — it’s entirely understandable if you sit softly and avoid rocking the boat. There’s no dishonor in that. If that doesn’t describe you, however, and you feel comfy doing so, deem leaning into these discussions.
“Often, white folks avoid tough conversations with household in order to conserve relationships or avoid dispute — but to do so also contributes to the stillnes that allows white ascendancy to thrive, ” Cronk writes. “White silence is what contributes to and excuses white supremacist violence — and even dialogues as informal as dinner table banter are really important mechanisms to objective white silence.”
It’s OK if you don’t change any minds at the dinner table. Just try to plant the seed of an idea.
Will some of these dialogues be inconvenient and awkward? Absolutely, but the payoff can be well worth the difficulty. Maybe that uncle who guesses undocumented immigrants are a drain on the economy( they’re not) will leave the dinner table with not just a full belly but a fresh view on what it means to be American. Maybe that aunt who thinks victims of police violence wouldn’t get shot if they just complied with orders( they often do comply) will enjoy a bit of subtlety with her pumpkin pie.
No matter what, it’s important to remember that this isn’t some sort of combat that is likely to be won by bludgeoning your relatives with a string of confrontational facts. You probably won’t cause anyone to do a 180 -degree turn on their beliefs. But with a little bit of care, you can help plant a few new ideas along the way.
For more information about Indicating Up for Racial Justice’s Holiday Mobile Hotline, as well as links to its annual Thanksgiving discussion guide and printable placemat, visit their website .
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