The open letter allegedly written to Rep. Nancy Pelosi by a group of white women is going viral.
The home page that bears the letter and collects signature, states the following:
“We’re a grassroots coalition of white women who are fed up with white supremacy and trying to do something about it. At the foundation of this is our commitment to demanding our sisters do better, which is why we’ve written this open letter to U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi. If you’re a white woman who wants to actively practice calling in your people, please sign this letter by filling out this form, and spread the word. Signatures will be updated hourly.
But the work doesn’t stop here: We must put our social and economic privilege in action by financially supporting organizations and efforts led by women of color and trans and gender non-conforming folks of color, and paying for their intellectual and emotional work — music, books, films, poetry, academic and legal expertise, food, visual art, comedy, and so much more. We encourage signatories to this open letter to educate themselves on the resources and talent available in your communities and to lift up those resources with a commitment to listening first, and asking how—and if—you are needed, next.”
The open letter to Pelosi urges her to support Rep. Maxine Waters, who has not only called for the impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, but who encouraged Democrats to harass members of the Trump administration in public.
The letter, as of July 7, has received more than 5,000 signatures. The names of those people signing the letter can be read by clicking here.
The open letter is below:
Dear Representative Pelosi,
We are writing to you today to ask you to do better.
We, like you, are white women who care deeply about the direction in which our country is headed, and who believe that inaction in the face of oppression is unacceptable. Because we share those goals, we hope and expect that you will do the work to understand why we are so deeply disappointed and angry about your recent statements regarding your colleague, Representative Maxine Waters. We urge you to consider how you can better use your power to support Representative Waters and the struggle for liberation for all Americans.
When you attack a Black woman for speaking out about injustice, and when you call for “civility” in the face of blatant racism, you invoke a long history of white supremacist power. Writing Black women’s words off as divisive, and chastising them for raising the alarm on unjust behavior, is not merely condescending — it echoes racist tropes that have been used for centuries to dehumanize Black people and support the structures that maintain discrimination.
White women have been culpable throughout history for acting — or, just as shamefully, not acting — in ways that support white supremacy. Suffragist and first woman Senator Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton exemplified this ugly history when she used race as a tool to rally reluctant white women to the cause of women’s suffrage, saying: “I do not want to see a negro man walk to the polls and vote on who should handle my tax money, while I myself cannot vote at all.”
To our great discredit, white women continue to act far too often in ways that support white supremacy, even when it is to our detriment. Time and time again, we have seen women of color show up to the polls to support progressive politics, while white women cling to the regressive, and often racist, politics and politicians who long for yesteryear.
But of course, racism and sexism are inextricably intertwined even in the America of 2018, a place where the perceived fragility of white women is still weaponized and deployed in order to initiate and justify racialized violence. This must stop, and you can help lead that charge. But when you chide Representative Waters for bravely and passionately speaking up for the most marginalized, you’re on the wrong side of history.
Why should Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Kirstjen Nielsen get to walk through a ceaselessly accommodating world, unchallenged by the public, never being forced to grapple with their daily complicity in what will be — what is already being — judged as a particularly dark moment in the history of our country? They are white women backing racist, xenophobic policies, and to ask that your colleague act “appropriately” at a time like this only serves to sustain white supremacy.
The concept of respect is culturally mediated; there is no single, objective standard. It is only through the lens of white supremacy that civil disobedience (which by its very name utilizes civility as a strategy for social change) or, for that matter, anydisobedience, no matter how polite, is converted into “uncivil” behavior. It is why the simple act of quietly sitting at a lunch counter was seen as explosively disruptive by those “good white people” who just wanted to have a peaceful meal, uninterrupted by the inconvenient and uncomfortable truth that they were perpetuating oppression and injustice by enforcing and benefitting from segregation. Indeed, change in this country has often come only after what people of privilege have historically deemed “uncivil” behavior: Taking to the streets, boycotts, the occupation of public spaces, the refusal to remain polite in the face of both institutionalized and interpersonal bigotry.
There is a broad chasm between discomfort and death, a chasm that white folks seem incapable of seeing — and which people of color cannot avoid. Sarah Sanders was asked politely to leave a restaurant. In contrast, Representative Waters has received ever-escalating threats, some so serious that they’ve led her to cancel public appearances. Do we need to spell out the horrifying — and deeply undemocratic — implications of a Black congresswoman who cannot organize among her constituents without fearing for her life? This is what we create when we put out calls for civility and chastise marginalized people for speaking up. We make it clear where our loyalties lie.
We sincerely hope that you can take a moment and learn from this, that you offer an apology to Representative Waters, and that, in the future, you stand shoulder to shoulder with her as we work together to fix what is so clearly broken in this country. White supremacy is wrapped on the roots and branches of our story, and it is up to us to remove it.