The other day, Reed and I had planned to sit down with Aundrea to talk about her American experience on Arizona State University's campus in Tempe. When we met Aundrea outside of Cartel Coffee, she brought along her boyfriend, Andi. After listening into my conversation with Aundrea, Andi became intrigued with our project, and asked to speak with Reed about his American experience. After sitting down and speaking with them both, Reed and I compared notes about our respective conversations, and we were both a bit surprised with our findings.
Aundrea hails from a conservative family and voted for Trump, while Andi thinks of himself a centrist and absolutely detests him. They both indicated that they have had heated disagreements about the 2016 election, but have not let it impact their relationship.
There have been dozens of articles written about couples infighting about the election. I had read one or two of them prior, but it was interesting to see the dynamics of such a relationship play out first hand. Andi spoke quite fervently about his distaste towards the Trump Administration, primarily citing his criticism of Trump's immigration policy.
That being said, Aundrea repeatedly emphasized the importance of immigration and diversity not just to her community, but also the ability for diversity to bridge divides within America as a whole. At the end of our conversation, she also made an earnest plea for Americans to not stereotype their fellow citizens simply based on whom they cast their ballots for this past November.
I think Aundrea is right, in that we do need to heal the divides in America, and having discussions with people of opposing views is a potential avenue to accomplish that. But I'm also reminded of something Orlando talked about in his interview. He spoke passionately about he believes some Americans fail to acknowledge that institutional racism even exists, and that denial in effect supports the oppression of people of color like himself. How can people agree to disagree when they potentially disagree on basic facts? We're seeing that at play right now with the media and the Trump administration, each basing their respective realities on differing truths altogether.
At the end of the day, Andi and Aundrea's relationship is a microcosm of the chasm that exists between our two Americas, but it also represents a small-scale vision of how our country can heal through discussion and compromise. Aundrea and Andi balance their differences in their relationship through active listening and meaningful discourse, allowing them to handle their political differences whilst strengthening their relationship. It's a potential lesson for the rest of us as we look to make our country whole again.