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You don’t have to ‘adopt a Trump voter’ to promote unity: Baratunde Thurston

Jen Rogers
·2 min read

In his inaugural address President Biden told Americans, “This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”

Finding that thread of unity amid division is a common theme for Baratunde Thurston, comedian, writer, activist and host of “How To Citizen with Baratunde.” For him this historic week is the beginning of the hard work needed from all corners of the country.

“It's going to take all of us,” he told Yahoo Finance’s Time for Change. “It's going to take ‘we the people’ of the United States recommitting to this project, reinvesting in the experiment of self-government together.”

Thurston is part of the People’s Inauguration, a ten-day program for citizens to come together to make their own commitments to healing and rebuilding the country. His podcast “How to Citizen” is also trying to go beyond conversation to giving people tools to be part of the change that they want to see.

After Trump’s election in 2016, many Americans on the losing side went searching for what they had missed about their fellow citizens. Remember when “Hillbilly Elegy” shot to the top of the bestseller list? Baratunde says as frustrated as many people are, they need to stay curious and engaged.

“I'm not saying, ‘Everybody go adopt a Trump voter or a radical right-winged racist.’ Some of that is dangerous actually and some of it's just emotionally exhausting,” he said. “But when we're dismissing people, writing them off, when we have a mutual interest in coexisting, that's literally counterproductive.”

Baratunde Thurston seen on day three of Summit LA18 in Downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)
Baratunde Thurston seen on day three of Summit LA18 in Downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP)

As terrible as the images of the Capitol insurrection may be including the white supremacist symbols displayed, Thurston says we can’t ignore what’s happening and the people behind it.

“We could never afford to just be like, ‘Let's ignore white people. I don't want to have to deal with them.’ That is a luxury and tomfoolery at the same time. And it's actually very counterproductive,” he said.

And like a family or a married couple struggling to find connection, Thurston has learned, “We don't always have to like each other to express a level of love for one another.”


Jen Rogers is an anchor for Yahoo Finance Live. Follow her on Twitter @JenSaidIt.

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