Call us by our right names

(sent 11/14/17 due to power outage on the 13th)

Dear President Trump,

A couple of weeks ago our pastor’s sermon focused on a young woman who came into her office off the street. She described how the woman was angry and prickly, how she seemed to want something she couldn’t articulate. Our pastor asked her about herself and the woman replied that she was mean and people didn’t like her and she was fine with this because she was mean and didn’t like them. While they were talking our pastor googled her name, “Andrea”, noting she was risking hurting the woman’s feelings since it might seem she wasn’t paying attention. She found that Andrea means “courage” and when she shared this information, things shifted and Andrea sat up straighter and was able to look our pastor in the eye. Andrea went on to tell about the cousin who’d molested her for years and how her mother didn’t believe her, left her to deal with it on her own. Andrea recounted all the terrible names the cousin had called her that she’d come to believe about herself, not having anyone to help her see otherwise. Our pastor helped Andrea to reframe herself, to start seeing her courage in the midst of her suffering and she was teaching us how critical it is that we call ourselves and each other by our right names and that we insist others do so as well. When people who have been ignored, stomped on, abused, made invisible stand up and say “Say her name!” or “Say his name!” they are no longer accepting the yoke of someone else’s estimation.

This is why it was so important when you didn’t seem to know La David Johnson’s name and why it was so important that Mitt Romney used Leigh Corfman’s name in his statement about believing her and that Roy Moore needs to remove himself from the senate race. He specifically said he believes Leigh Corfman. He could have said he believes the accusations or supports the courageous woman who came forward, but he didn’t. Mitt Romney came through and instinctively knew to say her name. Obviously Ms. Corfman chose to share her name when she came forward; she set the terms and made it much, much harder to dismiss the allegations because a real person who was a real child with a real name claimed a very hard part of her own experience, out loud.

May we be safe to claim our own names.
May we be happy to call each other by our correct names.
May we be healthy enough to give all names equal weight.
May we practice saying our own and each other’s names with reverence.

Tracy Simpson

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