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Beacon Authors Speak Truth to Trump on Inauguration Day


Donald Trump gets sworn in today as commander in chief. His approval rating speaks to the myriad doubts, concerns, and fears many have about what he and his administration will do during his term in the White House. We reached out to a few of our authors to ask if they wanted to share what they want Trump to know, understand or beware of. On Inauguration Day, we share their responses with you. 


Rev. Dr. William J Barber II“Mr. Trump, pushing an agenda to repeal health care, build walls, and stoke racism and xenophobia is not only illegitimate; it’s also a violation of our deepest moral and constitutional principles. I would urge you to repent and choose a legitimate path of love, justice, and equal protection for all.”
—Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement Is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear 


“Dear President Trump:

In the breakneck, tweet-by-tweet pace of the presidential campaign, one of your comments did not get the coverage it deserved: that it was ‘outrageous’ for New York City to have reached a $41 million settlement with the five African American teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of rape in the infamous Central Park Jogger case. You continue to insist, against all evidence—including DNA found inside the victim and the confession of the actual rapist—that they are guilty. This dogged stance alarms those of us who care deeply about justice—for the accused and for the victims alike. Those young men were all innocent. So, too, are tens of thousands of other men and women currently languishing in prison, with no one to help them. It is my fervent hope that you have the ability to reexamine your beliefs. We have a crime problem in this country: we lock up the wrong people.”
—Lara Bazelon, The Last Shackle: Harm, Healing and Redemption in Wrongful Conviction Cases (forthcoming)  


Mary Frances Berry“Since you can’t count on the decreased turnout in a few blue states that gave you the presidency to insure your reelection, perhaps you should think ahead and embrace some progressive policies on health care, immigration, and other hot-button issues.”
—Mary Frances Berry, Five Dollars and a Pork Chop Sandwich: Vote Buying and the Corruption of Democracy 


Aviva Chomsky“The most urgent problem facing our country and our planet is climate change, because any other decision, policy, or action could be changed by future presidents or generations, but climate change, if not slowed, halted, or reversed now, will be the end of all of us.”
—Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal 


Thomas Norman DeWolf“I have no particular advice for the incoming president, only reminders for myself that others may find useful—including the incoming president, were he to choose to listen: 1) remain committed to what lifts us all up; 2) support people who are particularly at risk in a world currently managed by those who live in, and spread, fear; 3) stick with the peacebuilders; 4) listen; 5) trust your heart; 6) know that we will make it through challenging times and will be stronger for the experience; and 7) most important: live in love—always.”
—Thomas Norman DeWolf, Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade 


Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz“Be aware: there are a lot of us nasty women out here ready to take your misogynist ass down.”
—Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States 


Steve Early“Dear Mr.  Trump:

You’ve said the US invasion of Iraq was a mistake. Please spare the Middle East and the rest of the world any similar or worse ‘mistakes’ during your hopefully brief tour of duty as ‘commander in chief.’”
—Steve Early, Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City 


Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman“America relentlessly yearns to be ‘great,’ and our success or failure tends to hinge on one factor: when we pit ourselves against each other, demonizing and dehumanizing entire categories of Americans, we fail, but when we recognize that Americans of every color, creed, and culture possess strengths, and when we draw upon those virtues in common purpose, our greatness as a nation shines through.”
—Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman, Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity 


Christopher Emdin“I have written about undiagnosed and very real traumas that folks of color experience in this country. I’ve highlighted undiagnosed forms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in the forms of a Poor Teaching in Schools’ Disorder and a Post Trayvon (Martin) Stress Disorder. Presently, there is a President Trump Stress Disorder. A large segment of our country feels traumatized. Our Muslim brothers and sisters feel attacked. Our immigrant colleagues are fearful. Our young people are disillusioned. This is a real and ongoing trauma, and we must treat it as such by working together on it over time. The first step in this process is recognizing that what people are feeling is real. We cannot move forward with a new presidency or a new secretary of education without understanding that things have been said and done that have hurt people. Painting all Muslims as criminals or all public schools as ineffective is painful to those who fight hard to be more than a flawed and often grossly inaccurate stereotype. This pain becomes trauma when it isn’t acknowledged and people are fixed into categories they are unable to escape from because those who hold power would rather see a caricature than a real person. When Betsy DeVos talks about urban public schools without seeing any value in the institutions or the youth that attend them, she sends a message that turns youth into commodities that only have value when they leave their neighborhoods. We cannot talk about moving forward as a nation without acknowledging our past mistakes. We cannot lead schools if we view young people as inherently flawed and in need of saving. We cannot heal as a nation without acknowledging the ways that we impose trauma on the most vulnerable among us.”
—Christopher Emdin, For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too


Bill Fletcher, Jr.“I want our incoming president to appreciate that words have consequences. Speaking offhand, giving vent to prejudices and biases, rhetorically dancing around irrational propositions are all the equivalent of juggling a motorized saw.”
—Bill Fletcher Jr., “They’re Bankrupting Us!” And 20 Other Myths About Unions 


Dina Gilio-Whitaker“About the idea to ‘privatize’ Indian lands: it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book to force Native American assimilation; it didn't work before, and it won't work now.”
—Dina Gilio-Whitaker, “All the Real Indians Died Off”: And 20 Other Myths About Native Americans 



Anita Hill“America deserves a commander in chief who is committed to protecting our women and men in the armed forces from sexual assault and all crimes. Renounce statements you’ve made excusing your own sexually predatory words and behavior, and pledge to charge and prosecute all cases of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment in the military.”
—Anita Hill, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home 


Steven Hill“Dear President Trump:

Don’t cut even one hair on the head of Social Security! You said you would not cut it during your campaign, and tens of millions of Americans expect you to keep your promise. In fact, you should expand the Social Security monthly benefit. Retired Americans deserve no less.”
—Steven Hill, Expand Social Security Now! How to Ensure Americans Get the Retirement They Deserve 


Michael K. Honey“Since we know you are very aware of the need to protect and defend ‘my African American,’ please take time in your inaugural to explain how you will work to fulfill Dr. King’s vision for achieving peace, justice, and racial equality through love, forgiveness, and nonviolence.”
—Michael Honey, editor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “All Work Has Dignity” 


Sharon Leslie Morgan“As I recoil against your ascension to power as president of the United States—the beacon of democratic principles in the Free World—I want you to know that right-thinking Americans will never succumb and say ‘Heil’ to a deplorably ignorant, hypocritical, immoral, xenophobic, Twitter-obsessed, megalomaniacal kleptocrat who astounds us with egregious promotion of intolerance, divisiveness, disrespect, and prevarication, because ‘We the People’ are better than that!”
—Sharon Leslie Morgan, Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a Daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade


Danielle Ofri“As a primary-care physician, I worry about the immediate health-care crisis that will occur when twenty million people lose their insurance and, thus, access to medical care. The ramifications will be vast and deadly. I’m struggling to recall when a president of the United States ever deliberately put so many Americans in harm’s way. This is more than the number of Americans who were sent to Vietnam or even to World War II. Take a moment, Mr. Trump, to imagine how you would feel if your family suddenly lost access to medical care. And now think about your fellow citizens. Is this really making America great again?”
—Danielle Ofri, What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear 


Rashod Ollison“Trump, you’re in way over your comb-over with this position, but I hope some glimmer of your humanity shines through anyway and does not implode what’s left of American democracy.”
—Rashod Ollison, Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl 


Annelise Orleck“Though you campaigned as the candidate of working Americans, you have nominated a Labor secretary who is anti-union, anti-minimum wage, believes workers don’t deserve breaks, and has sworn to replace workers with robots if he can—and you are working with Republicans in Congress who have vowed to cut Medicare and Medicaid. So you need to show us exactly how you plan to make life better for the American worker.”
—Annelise Orleck, Storming Caesar’s Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty 


Eboo Patel“Dear Mr. Trump:

American Pluralism—respect for diverse identities, relationships between different communities, and collective commitment to the common good—is one of the jewels of our civilization. Will you cherish it in your rhetoric and protect it with your policies?”
—Eboo Patel, Interfaith Leadership: A Primer 


Stacey Patton“Dear Donald Trump: 

Unlike past presidents who cared about the legacy of the office and tried to maintain the dignity of the role, it is clear that you only care about your power and exercising it no matter the consequences, and so there isn’t much to say to you. Instead, I wish to ask this nation, especially those in power and with privilege, to stand up, be courageous, and reject Trump and all the evil he stands for!”
—Dr. Stacey Patton, Spare the Kids: Why Whupping Children Won’t Save Black America 


“Donald Trump is the most ableist presidential candidate in modern US history. He routinely insults people by mocking real or perceived differences in bodies and mind (the Serge Kovaleski incident, fat shaming, calling Marlee Matlin the r-word, and countless other examples), but the real problem is that he’s likely to sign off on policies that will make America demonstrably worse for millions of disabled individuals. The potential repeal of the ACA threatens so many lives, including people who are merely not disabled yet, but his appointees are also likely to undermine attempts to better integrate communities, work, and school. But now he’s president, so I’d just tell him this: His supporters are as likely to become disabled as anyone else. They will need the help of a strong federal government eager to defend their rights. Time to get to work.”
—David Perry, author of a forthcoming book on the criminalization of people with disabilities 


Marcus Rediker“Benjamin Lay, the radical abolitionist dwarf, spoke truth to power in 1738: beware rich men who ‘poison the World for Gain.’ The roots of resistance are old and deep.”
—Marcus Rediker, The Fearless Benjamin Lay 


Jonathan Rosenblum“You can’t fix the economy if you don’t expand the legal rights and benefits of all workers, including those doing independent contracting, gig work, part-time and temporary jobs, outsourcing, domestic and farm work, and day labor.”
—Jonathan Rosenblum, Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, and the Revival of the Labor Movement


Jeanne Theoharis“Fourteen states had new voter restrictions on the books for 2016. The Electoral College, created to protect the slave states, gives disproportionate weight to smaller, whiter states. 6.1 million Americans were disfranchised due to felon disfranchisement laws on the books in many states. John Lewis questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election given the influence of Russia—but much closer to home, our democracy was hacked by these new laws and old practices.”
—Jeanne Theoharis, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks


Eileen Truax“In immigration, as in many other areas, America deserves a president with the ability to solve issues from a human rights perspective, beyond politics or partisanship. That’s the kind of leader we need, because that’s the kind of country we are meant to be. This is your moment, Mr. Trump: be that leader. We can still be that country.”
—Eileen Truax, Dreamers: An Immigrant Generation’s Fight for Their American Dream 


Rafia Zakaria“Muslim Americans are as true and proud as any other Americans, and the affiliation of an entire faith with the evil of terrorism is one of the cruelest injustices of our age.”
—Rafia Zakaria, The Upstairs Wife: An Intimate History of Pakistan