The Friends I’ve Lost over Donald Trump.

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This past winter, for the first time in years, I didn’t get a Christmas card from my friends, John and Marissa.

This is likely due to the systematic purge I made from my social media accounts in November of 2016, of people—to put it bluntly—like them, or anyone whom I suspected of having voted for Donald Trump.

Marissa, a casual Facebook user, must not have become aware of the deletion until after the 2016 Christmas card season; I still made the cut that year, receiving a glossy card with an embossed silver tree on the front and the words “Peace on Earth” inside.

By this past year, she’d noticed.

The decision to cut Trump supporters from my friends list had two fronts for me.

On the one hand, I felt that anyone who supported Trump after a campaign based on blatant racism and general ill will (bullying, insults, and intimidation) was someone with whom I no longer wanted to be connected. Most of these unfriendings were easy: people from high school who I hadn’t seen in years, ex-neighbors and friends of my parents, people with only a tangential connection to me or my family—the stepdaughter of an uncle, the husband of a childhood friend. But some were harder. John and Marissa were people I’d known all my life, people I spent a lot of time with in childhood. People I’d esteemed.

Still, like my father, who during the 2016 campaign, turned and walked away in the middle of a conversation, leaving a man calling after him in the post office (the fellow made the mistake of encouraging my dad to vote for Ted Cruz), I couldn’t help feeling that such people didn’t deserve another second of my time.

Their support for a lying, self-aggrandizing, serial sexual assaulter, and open racist was sufficient evidence that they weren’t worth it. John and Marissa are educated professionals, loving parents, churchgoers, and upstanding members of their community. I couldn’t reconcile any of that with their having voted for the man we all saw mock a disabled person and heard brag about grabbing women by their genitals because “when you’re a star they let you do it.”

But my decision also had a more personal, more visceral, component.

I no longer felt that people like John and Marissa deserved to see photographs of or read updates about my children, who are Mexican-American and have been raised in a country that surely falls within the parameters of a “sh*thole” by Donald Trump’s criteria.

Like Anderson Cooper, who made a heartfelt defense of the Haitian people after hearing them insulted, my first inclination is to insist that the people of Mexico, who have been dealt such a sorry hand by fate (a brutal conquest, political corruption that dates back centuries, natural disasters, widespread poverty, and a violent drug trade that thrives because of demand from the United States) could teach Donald Trump a thing or five about life. They exemplify perseverance, dignity, and joie de vivre in the face of adversity that Donald Trump has never faced or even had to imagine.

When he launched his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers, I was outraged. When he ceased to be a punchline and became the Republican frontrunner, I was horrified. When the election results began to indicate that he might actually become the 45th president of the United States, I broke down in tears. I felt betrayed by my country.

Trump voters had affirmed that, to paraphrase Hasan Minhaj, if they weren’t open racists themselves, at the very least they were okay with their president being one. Open racism wasn’t a deal-breaker for them. I couldn’t change the outcome of the election, but I could choose not to give such people access to information about my family.

All this has come to the fore recently because, for the first time since the spring of 2015, I’m planning a trip to the United States. My daughters and I are going to spend a few months in the small North Carolina town where my parents live, our first—and hopefully only—experience of Trump’s America.

Already, my husband is saying things like, “Don’t speak Spanish in public,” and “Don’t let anyone know you’re Mexican.” Though they’re citizens of both countries, the girls are traveling as Americans, under United States passports. In a climate of ICE (immigration and Customs Enforcement) raids, families being separated by deportation, and the likely revocation of TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) protections for close to a million vulnerable Latinos, we don’t want to attract any unwanted attention.

I don’t know whether John and Marissa regret their decision to elect an unhinged, racist, misogynistic, megalomaniac as president of the United States. Given that he’s cut taxes for people like them, the stock market’s up, the vast majority of Republican lawmakers have stood by him no matter what he does, and Fox News pundits continue to shower him with adulation, they may not.

In their version of reality, maybe the Trump presidency isn’t such a bad thing. They don’t see the irony of a “Peace on Earth” Christmas message at a time when their president has endangered everyone on the planet—not only by scrapping environmental regulations and pulling out of the Paris agreement, but also by issuing taunts and provocations at a dictator in possession of nuclear weapons.

Their news sources don’t stress the same things mine do, and in any case, I doubt that the plight of black, brown, transgender, and poor people—the people who, so far, are proving to have the most to lose from this presidency—moves them.

All I know is that I’m going to make a point to avoid them when I take my children to the United States.

All I know is that I’m better off without them in my life.

~

Author: April Vázquez 
Image: Johnny Silvercloud/Flickr 
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy Editor: Lieselle Davidson
Social Editor: Lieselle Davidson

 

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April Vázquez

April Vázquez lives in León, Guanajuato, Mexico. She is the winner of the William Van Dyke Short Story Prize, and her work has appeared in Salon.com, The Missing Slate, Cleaver, and others. Some of her published writing can be found here.

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Daniel Vargo Jul 4, 2018 5:07pm

The tolerant left who speak of acceptance and goodwill while as a whole, they aren't any different from the hate they object to. If you really cared about making a difference in your community, you would actively engage and understand other perspectives rather than writing a memorial column about your lost "friends". The only thing you have lost, is your sense of real purpose to make a difference instead of standing amongst your choir. Love is not bound by political affiliation unless you refuse to live outside your bounds of the self-proclaimed racist and bigotry name callers. Stop quoting or paraphrasing others and have an original thought.

Charles Brown Jun 23, 2018 3:21pm

Everyone is a racist to some degree,if you think you’re not,then you’re lying to yourself.Its easy to sit on the high horse and claim you’re not a racist,but when confronted with a racist issue,let’s see where you stand.Send your children to a school in an urban,decrepit area,go shopping in the area of your city that is populated by minority's

Nel Gambino Apr 23, 2018 6:40am

There are no 'good nazis'

Grace Winters Mar 18, 2018 12:46am

You apparently don't have a problem with racists. Some people do and they don't want it in their lives. Nothing sad at all about that. Racism, religious bigotry, misogyny are NOT political opinions to decent, normal people.

Grace Winters Mar 18, 2018 12:44am

No, she didn't. Not one good person voted for Trump.

Kyung Lee Feb 22, 2018 1:43am

It's a problem for this country to unite as a people if we decide to cut off people for the sake of politics. It's also very sad that you would let something as fake as politics destroy something as real as friendship. We are all going to disagree on something, that's just life. Cutting off people ends a line for discussion and creates a further divide. When people decide to stop talking that usually means that they're ready to start fighting. Your actions will only cause more harm than good. Look at the big picture, you can't be that narrow minded to think that cutting off people will make these ex trump supporting friends of yours have an epiphany and tell you that you're right....do you? It's childish don't you think? Btw I didn't vote for Trump nor Clinton because I think that the problem in this country goes way beyond the realm of media and the political stage but that's just my opinion. Therefore, I think above the bullshit and keep my trump supporting and liberal friends. It's kind of unfair to hold grudges against people for not knowing any better lmao. You knew how they were before this election and nothing should have changed. Part of being friends is accepting who they are, good or bad, the whole package. True, people change and they get on your nerves but to cut them off completely is just malicious... especially when they didn't do anything to you.

Dan Schultze Feb 3, 2018 3:34pm

sad commentary, leaving out a lot of good people out of your life

Christy Williams, Writer Feb 2, 2018 9:02pm

Well said, April. I still struggle to reconcile how the people I know and love could have voted for this man. Especially the people I am very close to. One of my friends even has a a child who is half Nigerian. I just can't wrap my brain around it. Thank you for writing and sharing this.

Ron Laswell Feb 2, 2018 3:55pm

As someone who changed his nationality to being a Global Citizen during the Harmonic Convergence of 1987, I'm so glad to see people taking a stance for common sense. I actually began weeding people out of my life even before Face Book. So by the time I was even on FB in 2009, only those who I noticed to be genuinely concerned for others were on it. Love is the essential criteria that I want from a friend or friends.

Irade Alexi Helligar Feb 2, 2018 3:12pm

Good for you! I did the same thing you did and I don't regret it a single bit.

Linda Lewis Feb 2, 2018 2:15pm

I still have a few friends who like Trump. I vocally disagree with them, but don't cut them out of my life. But I might feel entirely different if, like you, I had two Mexican children. The mama lioness would come out in me pronto! I am outraged by Trump's acitons and lies--one of the latest being his too long State of the Union speech in which he refered to "clean coal". In no way, shape, or form is coal clean! Yet so many Republicans just nod their heads and smile in consent! I live in Canada, where you might say we have Trudeau, the anti-Trump. The only thing they have in common is the first 3 letters of their last names. Trudeau is not a saintly statesman, but his tone and heart and intentions are good. At least he acknowledges climate change! Like California, BC in 2017 had the most severe fires ever, and now even in winter some of those fires are burning underground, roots and all! Luxembourg and France have had floods for weeks--drowning 240 towns including Paris and Versailles! In South Africa, Cape Town will be dry--waterless!--in March of this year. It will be the first metropolitan city in the world to go dry. 90% of the big fish in our oceans are gone, and half the oceans's corral is dead, while a continent of plastic is now floating in those salty waters. All this cannot be denied and is only one issue I could rant on. I could rant with you on all the more personal, human issues you mentioned just as easily. But I aspire to and have found chinks in my Far Right friends' armour of ignorance, and although those breakthroughs have been in limited areas, still it is a sign that people can care, that perhaps even Trump and his cronies have tiny hearts.

Flávia Simas Feb 1, 2018 5:12pm

Thanks for writing this, April. I'm not American and don't live in the US but last year I had to make a decision to cut someone from my life for the same reasons. It wasn't a very easy decision but I too am better off without that energy in my life.