Dear President Trump,
Judging from the headlines, it’s a tough time to be an outspoken woman, isn’t it? In the WP alone there’s coverage of three disturbing stories that look to me like bald warnings to women to shut the f*ck up. The most chilling and sad is the murder of 75-year-old Sadie Roberts-Joseph, a leading light of the Baton Rouge social justice community and founder of that city’s African American Museum who was found dead in the trunk of a car on Friday. Her neighbors, friends, and family speak of her kind, peaceful ways and are all understandably horrified that someone would do this to her. The police have not said how she was killed or if there are any leads or suspects, but the time of her abduction, if not her death, seems clear in that she was baking a pan of cornbread in a neighbor’s oven (because hers was broken) and didn’t come back for it.
Right below the article about the extraordinary, ordinary Ms. Roberts-Joseph’s brutal death was one about how the powerful, charismatic woman senior minister, Amy Butler, was dismissed from her prominent NYC church ostensibly because she took two staff and a congregant to a sex toy store. Her contract was not renewed by the Riverside Church Council but the congregation has started a petition to call a congregational vote as many think her dismissal was ungrounded. Two key pieces of background that may or may not have been part of the Council’s decision-making (but probably were) are that Dr. Butler was strongly advocating that she receive a salary commensurate with that of her male predecessor and that clear language about sexual harassment be introduced into the church bylaws. Riverside is widely seen as a flagship progressive congregation so it’s especially concerning that at least on the face of it, their first female senior minister is purportedly being fired for something so trivial (the sex shop visit) while core gender and social equity issues loom in the background.
At the top of the WP page this morning were several pieces about your racist attacks on the four junior women of color House Representatives (“The Squad”) and various responses to those attacks to include the GOP’s non-response and you choosing to double-down by calling on them to apologize to you. What is wrong with you? Oh right – you are a ruthless, conniving tool who was running out of bloody red meat to feed your base.
From a political machination standpoint it was quite a good move – if Pelosi and the Democrats did not come to the Squad’s defense you could accuse them of being disloyal and drive even more of a wedge between the most liberal wing of the party and the moderates. On the other hand, if the Democratic leadership did come to the women’s defense, you could then paint the entire party as racist, which in a stunningly weird jujitsu move is what you did. Only your base would cotton to such a cynically bullshit accusation of racism, but apparently you’ve them trained well.
The only bright spot of the day that I saw with regards to women speaking out was Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s open letter to you informing you that Chicago city employees, including the police department, will not be assisting with ICE raids. It’s definitely a strong counterweight to all the messages to women to shut-up, but I bet her inbox will be clogged with hateful messages meant to intimidate her into silence (or rather, even more than usual).
Don’t you all have anything better to do with your time than terrorize women and people of color? Given how desperate you all are to hold onto your white male privilege, I suppose not, no.
May we all be safe to speak up.
May we be willing to see that we have a very long way to go in this country of ours.
May we understand that we cannot be healthy if some voices are stifled, silenced.
May we make peace with the need to stay the course even when progress is punished.