How is Trump Era Affecting Families that are Politically Divided?

“It’s a struggle right now.”

Courtesy of Emily Dagger/NPR

Political divides in families are familiar to many Americans.

Most of us have an uncle or cousin or grandparent who makes us role our eyes at Thanksgiving when they bring up their opinion on something about politics or something in the news. And, generally speaking, we overlook our differences with those family members because ultimately they’re still our family members.

But what happens when the political divide becomes deep, personal, and painful?

What happens when the division isn’t with a distant cousin, but with a sibling. Not with an uncle, but with a parent? What happens when growing divisions in society happen in your own home?

Panama Jackson, co-creator of Very Smart Brothas, recently wrote an article titled “How Trump Ruined My Relationship With My White Mother”.

Jackson writes: 

“I can’t sit and actively engage with a person—even if it is my mother, whose blood is running through my body—if she doesn’t care about me, my story or what I live through. If she can’t see past her own appreciation for a bigoted, dangerous man, who, because of the position people like her have placed him in, has the ability to do significant damage to my civil liberties, then I don’t know what place she can have, reasonably, in my life. It’s sad. It’s disappointing. It’s my mother.”

Jackson tells Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson he has spoken with his mother since writing the column in August. But he says it’s still difficult to find common ground and understanding with each other.

“It’s a struggle right now, it really is,” he says.

Jackson says his mother knows his website is successful, but she doesn’t read the site, which is a window into his worldview. 

“She’s proud of what I do, but she had no idea what she’s proud of.”

To hear more from Jackson on Detroit Today, and to hear from Metro Detroiters going through similar familial tension, click on the audio player above.

This conversation originally aired on Detroit Today on October 11, 2017.


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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.