Posted November 23rd 2016 at 6:21 am by
in Perspectives on Current Events

Having meaningful conversations this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving is going to be a tough one. The election of Donald Trump has caused tensions that were previously bubbling under the surface to be exposed.

At CoLab in just the past week, we’ve heard stories of people getting ready for situations all over the spectrum for Thursday dinner. Some people want to confront their family members about the election and recent events; they feel they need to know where everyone stands. Other people want to completely avoid talking about it; they are (often but not always) afraid that what comes up will be too painful to handle and could cause irreparable rifts. Some folks don’t want to or have made a conscious decision to not go home.

In the wake of these, and many other realities for folks, organizations have put together guides for how to handle tough conversations on the holiday and maybe even have the conversations be productive. Below are some of the resources we’ve heard about so far. Have you heard of any others? Post a comment or send an email to and we’ll add it to this post.


Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Thanksgiving Discussion Guide & Holiday Hotline


Image from SURJ.

Language from SURJ’s website:

This Thanksgiving, SURJ is offering two ways to help support white folks in having tough conversations with other white folks — conversations that are necessary if we want to break silence about race in this country:

Thanksgiving Discussion Guide: These conversations are tricky, and often get “in the weeds” fast. We’ve put together a discussion guide that gives some more substantial talking points for those tough conversations, as well as some questions you can ask to elicit feedback and avoid conversational shut-downs. Click here for the discussion guide!

SURJ Holiday Hotline: When you get stuck during Thanksgiving conversations, SURJ has you covered. Simply text SOS (with no quotation marks!) to 82623, and we’ll send you some key talking points that tend to come up in these tough conversations. If you get *really* stuck, we’ll even hop on the phone with you for a short 1:1 coaching call. It’s vital for white people to break white silence about the danger of Trump’s presidency — we’ll make sure you have the tools you need to have those conversations over the holidays!


New York Times: How Could You? 19 Questions to Ask Loved Ones Who Voted the Other Way

Language from the New York Times website:

Here’s what we learned after the ugliest presidential campaign in modern times.

The voters you blame, whose ballots — for Clinton or Trump — so mystify and offend you, are not a distant, unfamiliar America. They are sitting across the dinner table, or the office cubicle, or the bed. They are your parents, your siblings, your friends.

Who wants to have that tough conversation, about why they voted as they did and about how it makes you feel? Just about nobody. So we avoid it. But like it or not, these people are in your life. The holidays are upon us. And deep down, you may actually want to have this talk. You may need to have this talk.

So we put together a guide for how to do it. We consulted with a professional: Liz Joyner, the executive director of The Village Square, an organization that facilitates these kinds of intimate, difficult conversations… (read more)

Homework for US: a listening project.

Language from the website:

That last exam was rough. Real talk, America: if we don’t want to fail, we have to do some serious make-up work.

Your assignment:

We all see a divide in America, but we can’t heal it until we understand it. If you’re traveling outside your geographic bubble for the holidays, ask to listen to the hopes and worries of strangers. How? We suggest food.

Here’s the plan… (read more)

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