A Labor Day reimagining of America

President* Trump,

Happy Labor Day, you exploitative oligarch.

I read an HP article this morning about your pipe dream of withholding federal funding from school districts that reform their US history offerings to more thoroughly address slavery and introduce systemic racism to students. The article included a Twitter exchange involving you and someone who goes by the handle “Octiman” (this person has a picture of the beginning of the Bill of Rights as their Twitter image), which went as follows:

Octiman: “california (sic) has implemented the 1619 project into public schools. soon (sic) you wont (sic) recognize america (sic)”

You: “Department of Education is looking into this. If so, they will not be funded!”

My primary reason for sharing this poorly written Twitter exchange is that Octiman is absolutely correct – the goal really is for America to be unrecognizable in the not too distant future. If we’re able to bring a critical mass of Americans, particularly youth, on board with the idea that America has never atoned for the annihilation of countless Native people and their cultures and the enslavement and ongoing economic and civic disenfranchisement and violent oppression of millions of Black people then we’ll be in a position to make radical positive changes – changes that will fundamentally shift power and will alter our trajectory toward a far more sustainable, equitable future.

If you’re someone who has benefited from White privilege, class privilege (and male privilege) and you expected to go on doing so to your grave and to pass the spoils onto your offspring, these efforts to pull back the veils from our gauzy unquestioning reverence of (White) history must be very scary, indeed. Terrifying, even.

You and your ilk can make whatever threats and promises you want to appease your base, but we aren’t going to stop studying and learning about injustice, we aren’t going to stop talking about it, and we aren’t going to stop working to make our country live up to its democratic promises so that it works for, protects, and nourishes everyone.

The other day I downloaded Lean In’s recent report on the impact of COVID-19 on working Americans. The gist is that women are exceedingly stressed from a combination of staggeringly high hours per week of household, childcare, and family responsibilities (20 more hours per week, on average, than men) and inflexible work situations that aren’t providing any accommodation for these increased home burdens. Women of color and single mothers have it even worse. Can you imagine trying to care for your school age children who can’t go to school while trying to work? Of course you can’t – you’d be able to hire people to take care of your children from sun up to sun down. And what about being laid off or furloughed – can you imagine that? No? Well, 58% and 56% of the Black women and men surveyed, respectively, reported that they’ve been laid off, furloughed, or had their hours or pay reduced due to COVID.  The numbers for White men and women (31% and 32%, respectively) are crazy high too, so very few of us are skating, but the figures for Black workers make it abundantly clear that racism is alive and well.

How is it that this nightmare is the ok version of America that you and the Ocitman’s of the world want so desperately to preserve while a version that responds to public health crises, climate change, and disasters fairly, competently, and compassionately is one that you all find horrifying? Yes, I know follow the money. But seriously, your all’s time is just about up because enough is enough.

May we be safe from exploitative leadership.
May we be willing to face our whole history.
May we have the strength and the courage to atone for it and make the needed changes.
May we never lose sight of Julius Goat’s observation that we are all precious, unique works of art. 

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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