Stand up for us when we aren’t there

Dear President Trump,

This morning we got an email from you about how for $3 we could enter a rally for a chance to have dinner with you in Dallas. The message began with the greeting “Friend” and ended with “….and I hope you’ll attend, Friend.” You are being pretty presumptuous with all that “friend” language. I would no more count you as a friend as I would count you as trustworthy person. I don’t know why we got that email. Maybe I forgot to uncheck the “KEEP ME POSTED WITH REGULAR EMAIL UPDATES FROM THE WHITE HOUSE” box at the bottom of the page. Although it’s kind of interesting seeing tiny slices of your tactics, I’ll avoid making that mistake again.

Interesting as that Dallas dinner invite is, I want to pivot back to the issue of complicity. Several months ago Lindy West wrote a NYT editorial in which she described appearing on a podcast with two comedians who are trying to figure out how to be better straight white men. They asked what people like her (her self-description: female, fat, feminist) need from people like them. She told them the best thing for them to do is to stand up for her when she isn’t there, essentially to call out crass locker room jokes and woman bashing screeds. One of them said that he does do this and that he gets mocked for it. The other one didn’t answer. I have since shared the basic gist of Ms. West’s ask with several individual white, straight men and every time they couldn’t change the subject fast enough; the weather suddenly became an absolutely riveting topic. These are men I like a lot. I work with them and value their opinions. They are funny and smart and generally pride themselves on being sensitive and progressive, but apparently the idea of putting one’s neck on the line for women and being deemed a killjoy or a square or a bleeding heart or a whatever by the guy-club is just too much.

We gotta work on this. Things aren’t going to change if only those who are directly affected by various forms of bigotry are solely responsible for addressing it if for no other reason than we are systematically excluded from so many clubs where some of you dig in and bad mouth us behind our backs while the rest of you let it slide.

May we all be safe to speak up for others.
May we all be happy to pull in our base impulses.
May we all be healthy and strong enough to tolerate real equality.
May we all come around to putting justice first and foremost.

Tracy Simpson

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