Today, Sonia and I entered the house of someone who voted for Trump. She offered us some orange juice, had us sit at her table. She was still in her pajamas. We were canvassing for Blake Morris, the person running against Sen. Felder in the Kensington area (District 17). When she mentioned that she has issues with the democratic party and voted for Trump in the last election, I was certain the conversation was over. But by that point we were already sitting at the table, looking at eachother -- she had invited us in, we had entered. We started with the New York Health Care Act. She has friends, she told us, that can’t afford health care and just continue their lives with their ailments, trying to ignore them. Yes, she would support a candidate that could change this. She has a friend who lost her kid on Ocean Parkway because there are no high speed cameras to regulate a speed limit. Blake Morris could change this.
She told her stories, we told ours.
The conversation moved into harder areas. She exposed her fear of Muslims. That the bible says homosexuality is a sin. I noticed my body go tense, and felt the gaze of her daughter watching my reaction. I softened my clenching jaw. I was in her house. Drinking her orange juice, sitting at her table. She continued, "But we all have sin in us, so who am I to point a finger at anyone? Who am I?" I said I agreed -- we must look inward for change.
She said she would vote for Blake Morris, she would tell her friends.
She wanted to keep talking, but we got up to leave, we had other houses to get to, more hours of canvassing ahead. But I wonder now what would have happened if we had stayed. If we kept on talking. If I told her I was queer, and that also I’m an awesome person. If I asked her if she has ever invited her Muslim neighbors across the street over for orange juice.
Sometimes, I’m really not sure what I’m doing in this life, but today it was all very clear. I want to talk to people. I want to go to their houses, knock gently on their doors, and try to understand, to listen, to speak. NYC has every kind of people, and also, we know so little about their lives. I have never seen the inside of someone’s house that voted for Trump. I have never even walked over.
We were there for 20 minutes, but it felt like a very far travel, to a place we were all lucky to arrive. I hope to return. I hope to keep trying. I hope we all keep trying.