Photograph from CNN
Well, it’s been a hell of a week. Actually, it’s been a hell of a month. Hell, it’s been a hell of an administration. No doubt you have had many a bad day since January 20th, so I want to extend to you a bit of empathy. It must be hard to be the leader of such a diverse country, everyone wants you to consider their agenda, everyone wants you to carve out a space for their plans, everyone needs something from you: attention, funding, a platform…the list goes on and on. And you, sir are just one man. I get it, I feel for you.
Do you see how that works? I, a black woman, a teacher, living in the suburbs of the District of Columbia with only a tiny bit of experience in management, can feel for you, a white man, who has never known a day of true discomfort, had to apply for a job, catch a bus or cook dinner. I haven’t walked in your shoes, but I can empathize with your situation, and it doesn’t cost me anything to do so. It doesn’t really help you either, except to possibly give you comfort that someone else is cognizant of your suffering.
Unlike me however, your empathy has the strength of a nation behind it. As you sit at your desk and watch millions of people struggle to obtain basic needs, food, shelter, water, and even oxygen, you could sign executive orders that would bring instant comfort to those people, American citizens dying on a tiny island surrounded as you say, by ocean water. Come to think of it, you could have sent literal Comfort to your citizens, the USNS Comfort, which you might remember deployed to NYC to help after 9/11, to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and more recently to Haiti to aid after the devastating earthquakes there. Your empathy has the innovation of the Army Corps of Engineers behind it. They can help with that crumbling infrastructure you mentioned before offering or outlining any help to that island in the “big water.” Your empathy has ability to rescind laws behind it like the Jones Act. It was great to see you extend that empathy to the shippers before you revoked it (temporarily, we all note) but perhaps that was misplaced. The shippers, you see have access to clean water, food, and shelter. I’d venture to say they have great air conditioning systems on their ships.
Within the past few days, you have moved to do some of these things, and although it has been 11 days since this tiny island surrounded by ocean water was hit by one of the most devastating storms ever to land on U.S. soil (that tiny island, remember, is a part of the United States), I am sure that they are glad to know that in about 5 days, a hospital with roughly 800 beds will be there to help them deal with the approximately 59 hospitals that are closed due to the storm. Hindsight being twenty/twenty and all, I do not envy you when the actual numbers of deaths caused by the storm and the subsequent slow federal response (that’s you) are accurately reported. You see, Mr. President, people have been forced to bury their dead loved ones on their own since the storm hit. The morgues of those hospitals that have closed, and there are 51 of them, report that bodies have been piling up. Your celebration of the low death toll most certainly will come back to haunt you, and I’m loath to point out that your positive spin was not empathetic to those that lost loved ones there, on that tiny, tiny island.
Again, I realize that you are a busy man, always “working with a lot of time on your hands,” so your attention is split. You had to support your GOP candidate in AL although you wondered aloud if that might have been a mistake. That had to have been tough. And you decided to show NFL owners empathy as they deal with those pesky professional athletes protesting…what was it again, oh yes, the deaths of unarmed black men, women and children at the hands of law enforcement officers; you certainly gave those multi-millionaires the moral support they needed, I think. But, and forgive me if this has been brought to your attention before, I think the loved ones of those killed, and those, like me, who have black and brown children or who are indeed black and brown ourselves, might appreciate a little empathy.
Hey, you are in charge, and as you have said, you have a pretty good brain. Maybe calling the mayor of a storm-destroyed city, surrounded by pallets of supplies that can’t be moved to the people who need them “nasty” was the best move you could make. Perhaps declaring that the people of this tiny island out in the Atlantic, “want everything given to them” especially considering they have nothing, might goad them into building their home back up again. I’ve heard that they can register online with FEMA to start the process for themselves. But if your words and lack of deed come back to bite you in your political posterior, I’m here for you. Maybe.