NEWPORT – While many Vermonters are preparing food and setting tables in joyful anticipation of warm family gatherings this week, some folks with differing political views than their relatives are anxious about the impending holiday. While it is easy to unfriend, unfollow, or even block those we don’t agree with online, it is much harder to do this in person, leading one Newport man to consider skipping Thanksgiving dinner altogether this year.
“It’ll be fine at first,” says 37-year-old graphic artist Harris Minte, “with everybody talkin’ ’bout the weather and such, sorta tip-toein’ around any touchy subjects. But I got this one uncle who never misses an opportunity to talk about bein’ acceptin’ of other cultures and s***, and I can only keep my mouth closed for so long.”
Minte recalls prior Thanksgivings with his family as “stressful” and “contentious.” While politics are generally steered away from, Minte complains that some relatives have brought non-white members to the dinner, forcing him to speak up.
“Look, you can say what you want about blacks, asians, muslims, jews, whatever, I don’t care. I can sit quiet, bite my tongue, try to make it through the whole day listening to that garbage about all people being equal, and everybody deserving what I work for, but when you bring one of ’em through the door, what am I supposed to do? Pretend like I’m not checking to make sure they ain’t stealin’ anything?”
Minte himself was arrested for shoplifting back in 2003, which he says has given him a better perspective on other races.
“I been inside the prison system, and it’s full o’ blacks, hispanics, all sorts o’ non-whites. I know who they are. And now I gotta listen to my uncle tell me it’s causa systemic bias or some s***? I’m really not tryin’ ta hear that. Ugh. This dinner is gonna suck.”