“all women and men are created equal”

Dear President Biden,

If Twitter is to be believed it would seem that Fox News outlets reporting on your addition of “women” to your recitation of the “created equal” part of the preamble to the Declaration of Independence had completely lost their shit over it. Maybe there’s an outlet somewhere where that was true, but the FN report I found only makes a small deal over the fact that you added words, plural – “women” and “and.” Actually, I think the fact that they bothered to be precise about you having added two whole words and didn’t just call out the “women” part is kind of funny – God forbid anyone add anything at all to “men.”

Next time, though, it would be great if you just said “people” – not only would that be more parsimonious, word-wise, but it would do a better job of including everyone. No worries, though – we’re all works in progress and I love that you made a point of including women and that you said “women” first. I bet that got some boxers in a twist J

It was before your letter time, but in my 2020 art show I included a series of five prints that I made from a pretty massive embroidery that I did of the primary (to me) guts of the Declaration of Independence starting with sentence beginning “We hold these truths to be self-evident….” and closing with the sentence ending with “to provide new Guards for their future security” (you can see it here if you want). As you might expect, I made some adjustments. I didn’t include the problematic words shown below struck out, but figure that for reference, it’s important that they be in there for you:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men people are created equal, that they we are endowed by their Creator Creation with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men People, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind people are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

It only required a tiny handful of edits to bring it around to something far more reasonable and inclusive. And yet… I don’t see us ever coming together and saying something to the effect of – “Hey, we see now that the original framers very intentionally set things up to benefit White male landowners and while it was radical in their time to push back on monarchy style government like this, they didn’t go nearly far enough and they ended up setting us on a path that is incredibly unfair to most people and has put us on a collision course with Mother Nature. In light of this, we’re going to do another reset that’s radically inclusive and equitable in order to better provide guards for our future security.”

Right? I don’t hear Mitch McConnell jumping onto this bandwagon – ever – but still, as Stacey Abrams has said over and over, we need to keep pushing the goal posts out as far as we can when we have opportunities so that when the haters start in on their crap, they can’t drag us back to square one.

So thank you for pushing the goal post out by saying “all women and men are created equal” – well done.

May we all be safe to insist on equality – and equity.
May we all be willing, happy even, to jettison the old ways of doing things.
May we all have the courage and strength to give and take space as makes sense.
May we accept that we need all of us at the table if we’re going to pull out of our current tailspin.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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