July 10, 2018
Helping the revolution along: How Thanksgiving with jerks inspired The Marginalized Majority
by Onnesha Roychoudhuri
It was a dinner party that did it. Well, “dinner party” makes it sound more glamorous than it was. It was Thanksgiving, and just three weeks after Donald Trump had been elected president. I didn’t have any plans for the future, let alone for this holiday. When my friend said, Hey, come on over, I gave myself a talking-to. It went like this: You should really go spend time with humans instead of staying at home and watching Planet Earth: Ocean Deep. Again.
The dinner party went very poorly. It all started when I went to refill my glass of wine in the kitchen and pet my friend’s dog. I’m pretty sure this is when a tear in the fabric of spacetime appeared in the dining room. When I made my way back to the table, one of the thirty-something-year-old white men caught me up to speed. They were debating “whether women are funny.” They wondered if I had thoughts on the matter.
I did. Many of them. This idiotic dinner table conversation was the straw that broke me. I had just watched a professed sexual predator get handed the keys to the White House. I had been following the uptick in hate crimes against immigrants and other marginalized folks since the election. Then there were the swastikas spray-painted at a park near my home. Yes, I had thoughts — enough that I had to write a whole damn book about how marginalized Americans—and our allies—can push back against the resurgence of bigots and boneheads setting the terms of everything from our country’s foreign policy to Thanksgiving dinner conversations.
Whether at the dinner table or in the halls of Congress, I’m unwilling to let the parameters of our conversations slither decades into the past. The Marginalized Majority: Claiming Our Power in a Post-Truth America is a call for those of us who are terrified of what’s to come to band together and recognize that marginalized Americans and our white progressive allies constitute a majority in this country. And that it’s time we behave like the majority we already are.
It’s also time to retire that empty platitude about never talking politics at the dinner table. Refusing to pass the pie to those who refuse to acknowledge our full humanity just might help the revolution along its way.
The Marginalized Majority is on sale now. Buy your copy here, or at your neighborhood independent bookstore.
Onnesha Roychoudhuri is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor, and educator whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, n+1, The Nation, and elsewhere. She is the co-founder of Speech/Act, an organization working at the intersection of storytelling and social justice, and the author of The Marginalized Majority: Claiming our Power in a Post-Truth America, out now from Melville House.