Some good things are growing up through the manure

Dear President Trump,

Happy Juneteenth! Are you doing anything to commemorate the day this year? Like maybe watching the House subcommittee hearings about setting up a panel to study reparations (H.R. 40; sponsor: Sheila Jackson of Texas)? It would surely be educational for you and it would sure be a more useful way for you to spend your time than most anything else you would be doing.

The other option is to watch Hope Hicks testify instead. You already know all the stories (with apologies to Pee Wee, it’s kind of like how he doesn’t need to stay to watch the movie at the end of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure because he lived it), so it clearly wouldn’t be educational for you to watch those hearings. However, given your vested interest in what Hicks does and doesn’t say, my money is you’ll favor the H.H. hush money hearing over the H.R. 40 reparations hearing, and there’s probably not a sentient being in the US who’d be willing to wager against me on this.

I told you the other day about how emotional things were at church on Sunday with so many recent, very sudden hard deaths, but what I didn’t tell you is that the sermon that day was tough too. I told you before that I sat up front with the Soul Choir facing the congregation, and about five minutes into the sermon I realized I couldn’t control my facial expressions. This is a problem for me in general that I’ve probably told you a few times before – how what I’m feeling is almost immediately reflected in my expressions and I have little control over it. Normally, I sit in the back and my face can do whatever it wants, but sadly this was not the case Sunday. I couldn’t get up and leave so after studiously trying to look placid for a couple more minutes, I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. I still listened to what he was saying, but I got more self-contained and still. I think it worked. Mostly, anyway. It was a long (long) sermon and I’m sure I winced several more times.

I was determined to give the minister the benefit of the doubt, thinking maybe I’d rushed to judgment or somehow missed his point, so later when I was talking with a friend I asked her what she thought of the message. She shrugged and said she didn’t really know, that she’d checked out. I looked at her quizzically and she shrugged again and asked me what I thought. I started out pretty tame, but after a little back and forth I shared more of what had me so uncomfortable and she said she’d noticed those things too. Then she observed that she tends to check out when she has trouble with what authority figures are saying because it has never felt safe to question them. She sighed as she said this, but at the same time it seemed like a good thing that she could say it.

Just to give a little context, I think she’s probably about five years younger than me (i.e., early 50’s), so starting to question authority now, at this stage, is probably really unsettling for her. I bet, in part, she has you to thank for helping her break through her habitual non-questioning.

I also think that the six high school kids from around the country who were interviewed for a WP piece about changing teen culture around sexual harassment also have you to thank, in part, for their increased willingness to question the inevitability that “boys will be boys.”

I don’t think I’m alone in wishing that we could have come to this growth some other way than having to endure such a destructive, toxic presidency, but at least there are some good things growing up through all the manure.

May we be safe to think our own thoughts.
May we be willing to question authority as needed.
May we be healthy and strong for ourselves and for one another.
May cooler heads than yours keep you from starting a war.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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