No question who’s on top of the heap

Dear President Trump,

All my life I’ve had trouble with people’s names and when someone has a last name that is traditionally a first name, things get even worse for me. This is especially true when the person is male since most last names are male-based and thus boys or men can end up with two boy names whereas girls or women generally end up with a girl-name and a boy-name. Anyway, yesterday I mistakenly called Trevor Noah “Noah Trevor”. I stand by my characterization of what he said about you fostering a false sense of victimhood among your supporters and the importance of recognizing this shifty, shitty practice, but I apologize for calling him by the wrong name.

Shifting to another topic, last night Laura played me a Pitchfork video of Big Boi, the rapper who was formerly half of the band Outkast. Big Boi was talking about his very favorite verse of all time, which is from Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (Make a Deal With God).” The video plays clips of the song, him singing along, and him describing why he loves the song, including how he rode his bike to school listening to it in the 80’s. When he gets to the part where she’s saying she wants to make a deal with God so she and her (male) lover can trade places because she wants to run up the hill, run up the road, run up that building, Big Boi points out how deep this idea is of a woman and a man trading places so each can see the world from the others’ point of view. He notes that if this could happen they’d have a better relationship. Big Boi then questions whether the dude would really want to swap places – “would he really? Think about it.”

This idea is worth serious thought, just as was the piece I read a couple of years about a teacher asking the white children in her class which of them would be willing to trade races and be African American; none of them were. Obviously these are mostly just thought experiments (though there are some sobering reports from trans people about the profoundly different ways they are treated when they transition to become women or to become men), but I think they are important and point to the absolute clarity we all have about who is and who isn’t on the top of the heap.

May we all be safe and secure to run up whatever hills we want.
May we be happy to take others’ point of view, even when their perspective is hard to bear.
May we be healthy and solid enough in ourselves to be strong allies for others.
May we treasure respect and peace wherever we find them.

Tracy Simpson

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