Dear President Trump,
Today is Laura’s birthday. Last night after work I purchased a lovely bouquet of flowers for her that I hid until this morning. She was so sleepy first thing that she missed seeing them on the dining room table, but her smile when she did see them was wonderful. It’s not easy to surprise her so it was especially great that this part of her birthday worked out. You could give her an even better birthday surprise by resigning sometime today – by East Coast time you’ve got about 14 hours in which to do this. Surely you can find a spare moment to step up and save the free world by stepping down. Please be sure to take your entire illegitimate entourage with you while you’re at it.
We learned this morning about another birthday celebration this week, though this one is not even remotely positive. Alabama state workers had a paid state holiday on Monday for Jefferson Davis’s birthday (I’m sure you know this since you love your Confederate “heroes,” but Davis was the President of the Confederacy [do I have to capitalize those words? Let’s go with president of the confederacy instead]). And get this, Alabama also had a paid state holiday for confederate memorial day (they capitalize it, I will not) on April 22nd, which was the closest Monday to the original memorial day date (April 26) that I told you about last week. Even more astonishing and repugnant, they call MLK Day “Robert E. Lee’s birthday/MLK Day. What crap. Over a quarter of Alabama’s population is African American; what must it be like for them to have to deal with these blatant racist holdovers from slavery and Jim Crow in 2019?
Fittingly, the Poem-of-the-Day today is called “Breathe. As in. (shadow)” by Rosamond S. King, and it’s some kind of powerful (it’s not in the public domain so I can’t reproduce it here, but this is the link to the website if you want to read it, which you should: https://poets.org/poem/breathe-shadow). I sent the link to the sister and brother who performed “I Can’t Breathe” on Sunday. If you read the poem and what King says about it, you’ll see how the two pieces are talking to each other even though their mothers haven’t met.
King doesn’t live in Alabama (she’s faculty at Brooklyn College) so she doesn’t have to deal directly with all the racist confederate holidays there, but her stark commentary about this poem and its twin (the pre-shadow version) lays open how it is for African Americans living in any of our united states:
“Both poems are part of my ‘Living in the Abattoir’ series, set in a speculative space similar to the USA, in which people of color live in an abattoir (slaughterhouse) in which they are both workers and meat. The poems address how under difficult circumstances people pursue both survival and joy.”
“both workers and meat” ~ such grim framing. And then she pulls in joy. Acknowledging the reality of joy in the midst of difficult circumstances (what restraint she showed here) forces, or at least encourages, a far more complex and real reckoning, one that isn’t about pity or any of its cousins, but rather is about strength, resilience, and witness.
Then there is this from my Wellesley alumnae magazine; at the end of an interview with author Nichole Phillips about her new book Patriotism: Black and White, the interviewer asked her what she’s working on and Phillips responded that she’s writing a book about black motherhood and mourning.
Please let that sink in, Mr. President. Please consider why a book on black motherhood and mourning is needed and why the reality behind this has to change.
May all Black children be safe and their mothers able to relax and breathe easy.
May we all be willing to let go of racist traditions and public odes to oppression.
May we rid ourselves of toxins that sicken us all and kill many of us.
May those of us who need to make peace with equity and reparations do so, today.