How Should African American Clergy Women Respond to Donald Trump’s Sexist Comments? by Gabriella Caldwell-Miller, PhD LPC
This has to be a joke. RIGHT?
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and a recording of a candidate for President of the United States of America is released in which he says, “You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” He then added, “And when you’re a star, they let you do it. Grab them by the p — y. You can do anything.”
Honestly, I’m not all that surprised given Donald Trump’s history of making disparaging comments about women on the campaign trail. I’m only slightly stunned that many in the right wing media and political establishment dismissed the comments because he made them 11 years ago. I’m utterly astonished by both the silence in response to comments from prominent religious leaders.
Trump’s words hit me like a sledgehammer in in a place that is still scarred by brutality that my foremothers endured at the hands of their all-powerful owners. Consent was not a luxury afforded to them.
Joshua Dubois, in his article “Powerful Evangelical Women Split from Male Church Leaders to Slam Trump,” described the response of prominent evangelical women, among them evangelist and author, Beth Moore, who are speaking out against Trump. These women have boldly called out prominent evangelical pastors for their continuing support of Trump.
Trumps’ record with African Americans and women is a double whammy for us as African American women. We experience sexual assault at a rate higher than that experienced by our Caucasian counterparts. One out of every four African American women has been a victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
Given these statistics, how should we, African American clergy women, respond to Trump’s comments? I’m not naïve enough to believe that all of my sisters in ministry oppose Trump. We are by no means a monolith. But, some things ought to offend our collective sensibilities.
Although my list of ideas is by no means exhaustive, here are some ways that we can respond:
1. We must condemn misogynist rhetoric. We are called to stand against any system or person that shames and renders people invisible or irrelevant. Trump’s words and recent actions have done just that.
2. We must shout Psalm 139:14 from the mountain tops to remind our sisters, and ourselves, that they we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
3. We must use our position to teach that anti-woman language and behavior is intolerable. Exploitative behavior, perpetrated by anyone, is not ok. Why? Because, we all are created in God’s image.
4. Should we ask our brothers of the clothe to stand with us — to show their support for us by openly condemning the shaming of women on a national stage? I would hope that we wouldn’t have to ask. But, take nothing for granted. Ask.
My sisters, we have come too far to be silent. We must lift our voices not only for ourselves, but for our foremothers who could not.
Dr. Gabriella Caldwell-Miller, LPC MDiv is a psychotherapist and minister with a passion for “helping the people who help the people.” In her coaching and consulting practice, GCM Life Solutions, she works with women clergy to help them maintain maximum emotional, mental, and spiritual wellness. Reach her at www.gcmlifesolutions.com.