Nothing but Our Ruth
There are times in the lives of women when we need to take desperate measures. This is such a time. Seeing Congress refusing to name a new Supreme Court Justice after the death of Antonin Scalia, I felt my rage in my chest. So in lieu of increasing my medication, I am taking direct action. Taking the advice of empowerment gurus, I am turning my anger into constructive action and appealing to the readers of Persimmon Tree for help.
I fear that Notorious RGB, sister Ruth Bader Ginsberg, may fall ill and have to abandon her seat on the court. Her courage and commitments to women, the poor, and the weak have characterized her career. My fear is that her replacement will happily erase basic protections in civil rights, criminal justice, and equal access to opportunity. I – we – can’t let this happen.
My strategy is a simple one: We need to begin training a series of RGB body doubles who could readily slip into Ginsberg’s chair at the court.
- At 5’1” and 105 lbs., she is short and diminutive. (I fit the bill here and in a few years, thanks to the failure of bone-building drugs, I should be even shorter than my current 5’3’ stature.)
- RGB is a New Yorker. (I have a Rhode Island accent, which gives me a good start. I can make this happen but if Meryl Streep who has transformed herself into many convincing characters can lend a hand here, we could win an Emmy for this. [Meryl, if you are reading this, please email me.])
- Legal training and mastery. She knows a lot. (I can say many legal words.)
- Hard knocks and feminist chops. In law school, she was criticized for taking a law school slot from a qualified man, graduated at the top of her class and upon graduation worked for a salary substantially less than that of her male colleagues. Sound familiar?
- Hair and makeup.
- Feminine touches to her robe. Ginsberg wears a white collar on her robe. (I can have one of those made by the ladies at the subsidized housing for the elderly in my town. I could have sworn I saw one of those at their holiday craft fair and I think the ladies would love to be involved.)
The idea here is to have a mob of RGB doubles – sort of like the Justice League – all ready to fill in at any time so none of us gets too tired. If you would like to join the ranks, please email me with a photo, a fully completed application, and your essay about why you would make a great Justice Ginsberg. You will then be invited to join the launch of our Nothing but Our Ruth Training Camp, scheduled for May 2017. There is no time to waste.
Immediately after the election I went to the White House website and there was a page for President Elect Trump, where people could write him with ideas about how we could “Make America Great.” I wrote that not only is America already “great,” but that the only way I could see making it even greater would be “if you were not President.”
Yesterday, January 24, I returned to the White House website and wrote this to Trump. You will notice that I have referred to him neither as “President Trump” nor as “Mr. President.”
You are ruining this country. In just four days, you have shown that you have no heart and no soul. I have never had to write a president before, and I am 65 years old, but I feel compelled to do so at this time.
I am seriously concerned about the future of America and I fear we are headed for a fascist state. Believe me, I do not say this lightly. I feel powerless and I know many other people who do.
I don’t believe that you care at all about Americans or about the United States. I am ashamed to say you are the President. You are not my President and never will be.Debbie L. MillerBrooklyn, NY
The Day After the Election
is outside early
with effort since most are
She’s not young but ever
focused and determined.
I watch her from
my closed window
imagining I can hear
the crunch of dead leaves
under her feet and feel
the tentative warmth
of the lemon November sun
on my back
distracted for a moment
from my still brim high
anger too full of itself
to plummet yet to despair.
she may be building a wall
around her beloved irises
to surprise them in the spring
safe as each purple bearded Queen
will be from the gnawing jaws
of the rabbit who for no other
reason than flower-power-lust
has always taunted them to try
across the garden border
then fells each one at the ankle.
I turn away when the dog
barks to go out.
Persimmon Tree’s Kitty Cunningham Marches with Husband and Friends
Why I Marched
I marched in uniform during our war against Korea because I was ignorant.
I marched in opposition to our war against Vietnam because I had become enlightened.
I marched with the first lesbians to infiltrate the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in 1972
…… because it was TIME.
I marched with other women, children, and men on the twenty-first of January 2017 because at 86 I still believe there is a future.
Why I Marched on January 21st, 2017
I emigrated to the USA in my late teens and settled in a kind, generous, and compassionate country. It is where I received my education and raised my family. It is the land in which my grandchildren will lead their lives. I have a stake in keeping it moving forward.
Some days, although I am just one, I see a world of many joining, a world that shifts and changes and moves on a course. We are carried in a stream of life formed of differing forces and opinions. Brooks turn into streams, and rivers into lakes and oceans. And I mostly float like a leaf moving comfortably along, but sometimes I float into a rock that disturbs the flow.
In recent days, my world has been shaken with the dawning of Donald Trump. The most watched man on the planet is turning the tide of progress in America during my lifetime. I see the dark forces of reversals and backpedaling on much that has been accomplished in this country. This generous and progressive land is in danger. In a short time, I am seeing land mines multiply. The current list includes plans to build a wall to guard the border, reduce access to health care and abortion services, limit LGBT rights and gag information-sharing about climate change, and scientific progress, keep Muslims away, and put minorities in their place.
Every day the list gets longer. Next week Trump plans to turn the tide in the balance of the Supreme Court. He would like to hand out muzzles and blindfolds for us to wear. “Alternative facts” are manufactured daily (inauguration day attendance, election fraud, etc.) for public consumption. It is not what I want my government to give resources to and base decisions on.
I need to reclaim my world, and regain hope for future progress. I need to know I am not alone.
That is why I marched on January 21st. And I saw evidence that Lysistrata, the millennia-old account of women’s power on the world stage, is waking up. We are putting our president on notice. Beware, Donald, minister of spewing dark propaganda: your days are numbered. The river will flow and wash away the damage of your days.
Small Acts of Civil Disobedience
The truth of Dawn Ramm’s raw post on Persimmon Tree, “When I woke up that morning to hear the final results of the election I felt as if a very close friend had died,” validated my own gnawing fears. I wanted to find her, to look her in the eye and say – I know, I know. Thank you for writing this post. That’s exactly how I felt that godawful night when the world fell off its predictable path.
Quata Hatcote’s exhortation to “speak to your children and grandchildren – in a loud voice – years from now they will remember you and your powerful words,” reminded me to refocus on my own writing that I had allowed to be highjacked by the deluge of 2016 post-election chaos.
Along with millions of others, I watched our President deepen his delusional spiral in the East Room of our White House. During the seventy-seven minutes that he spoke to the world, the part of me I’ve learned to trust, rose up and pushed back.
BDT (Before Donald Trump) I was working on a novel about mother-daughter wars that, like DNA, are passed down from generation to generation. The main storyline is based on vignettes from my family of origin and forty-one years of practice as a family psychotherapist.
This drive to write, BDT, showed up each morning like a friendly, firm wake-up call. Now, creating characters and scenes to populate the “shining city upon the hill” carries new meaning. The call is still friendly, but firm upgraded to urgent during Trump’s painful, revealing speech.
My resistance to Donald Trump is a chilling, helpful reminder of one of my college professors when I was a single, financially strapped mom with two small children. It was near Christmas when that small man, wearing a black suit I remember down to the dander on his lapel, bent over my desk and whispered, “You’ll never make it. You’ll never graduate.”
Terrified he might be correct, I didn’t say a word then, but through the years, each time I was tempted to drop out of school and go back to meaningless work, I remembered the sound of his grating voice and my silent vow to “show him.”
More than forty years and two degrees later, I bear witness to a truth that, despite delusional spews from the White House’s East Room, it’s possible to defy those in power with small acts of civil disobedience that defy the odds.
I was five when I saw the iconic photo in Life Magazine of the bloodied, sobbing Chinese baby on the railroad tracks during Japan’s invasion of Manchuria;
I was seven when I saw a photo of six Nazi soldiers aiming their rifles at a Jewish boy in knee pants;
I was nine when I saw the first busload of Japanese-Americans arrive at the Heart Mountain relocation camp next door to our Wyoming oil town;
I was thirteen when I saw the aerial shot of bombed Hiroshima;
I was twenty when I laid my palm on the rusting iron of a Dachau oven so cold it could have been red hot;
I was twenty-three when I saw a photograph of tortured, murdered Emmett Till wrapped in barbed wire;
I was twenty-six when I heard that three of my students had died over the weekend trying to induce illegal abortions by drinking mercuric acid, which eats through iron pipe.
I was thirty-one when I saw the photo in Bogota’s El Tiempo of a teen victim of la Violencia with her throat neatly sliced;
I was forty-two when I saw the black-and-white photo of the little Vietnamese girl covered with napalm, running toward the camera, her mouth open in a scream I couldn’t hear;
I was sixty-two when I saw swimming pools in the backyards of Israeli settlements before I noted the faucet in the square of the Palestinian village where the villagers got their water;
I was seventy-seven when I saw on the local news three white policemen firing bullet after bullet into the torso of a young black man;
I was eighty-four when I saw the Technicolor snapshot of the silent, bloodied Syrian toddler staring at the photographer, waiting for a medic.