Yesterday, I watched a video clip of Michigan State Senator Mallory McMorrow speaking to here colleagues about the hate speech directed at her and the moral high ground upon which she stands. It was so moving that I must post it here, because only by standing up to hatred can we thwart persecution and violence so that compassion and civility can prevail.
SEN. MALLORY McMORROW:
“Thank you, Mr. President.
I didn’t expect to wake up yesterday to the news that the senator from the 22nd District had overnight accused me by name of grooming and sexualizing children in an email fundraising for herself. So I sat on it for a while, wondering, “Why me?” And then I realized: Because I am the biggest threat to your hollow, hateful scheme, because you can’t claim that you are targeting marginalized kids in the name of, quote, “parental rights” if another parent is standing up to say no. So, then what? Then you dehumanize and marginalize me. You say that I’m one of them. You say, “She’s a groomer. She supports pedophilia. She wants children to believe that they were responsible for slavery and to feel bad about themselves because they’re white.”
Well, here’s a little bit of background about who I really am. Growing up, my family was very active in our church. I sang in the choir. My mom taught CCD. One day our priest called a meeting with my mom and told her that she was not living up to the church’s expectations and that she was disappointing. My mom asked why. Among other reasons, she was told it was because she was divorced and because the priest didn’t see her at Mass every Sunday.
So, where was my mom on Sundays? She was at the soup kitchen with me. My mom taught me at a very young age that Christianity and faith was about being part of a community, about recognizing our privilege and blessings and doing what we can to be of service to others, especially people who are marginalized, targeted and who had less, often unfairly. I learned that service was far more important than performative nonsense like being seen in the same pew every Sunday or writing “Christian” in your Twitter bio and using that as a shield to target and marginalize already-marginalized people.
I also stand on the shoulders of people like Father Ted Hesburgh, the longtime president of the University of Notre Dame, who was active in the civil rights movement, who recognized his power and privilege as a white man, a faith leader and the head of an influential and well-respected institution, and who saw Black people in this country being targeted and discriminated against and beaten, and reached out to lock arms with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he was alive, when it was unpopular and risky, and marching alongside them to say, “We’ve got you,” to offer protection and service and allyship to try to right the wrongs and fix injustice in the world.
So, who am I? I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom, who knows that the very notion that learning about slavery or redlining or systemic racism somehow means that children are being taught to feel bad or hate themselves because they are white is absolute nonsense. No child alive today is responsible for slavery. No one in this room is responsible for slavery. But each and every single one of us bears responsibility for writing the next chapter of history. Each and every single one of us decides what happens next and how we respond to history and the world around us. We are not responsible for the past. We also cannot change the past. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen or deny people their very right to exist.
I am a straight, white, Christian, married, suburban mom. I want my daughter to know that she is loved, supported and seen for whoever she becomes. I want her to be curious, empathetic and kind. People who are different are not the reason that our roads are in bad shape after decades of disinvestment or that healthcare costs are too high or that teachers are leaving the profession. I want every child in this state to feel seen, heard and supported, not marginalized and targeted because they are not straight, white and Christian. We cannot let hateful people tell you otherwise to scapegoat and deflect from the fact that they are not doing anything to fix the real issues that impact people’s lives. And I know that hate will only win if people like me stand by and let it happen. So I want to be very clear right now. Call me whatever you want. I hope you brought in a few dollars. I hope it made you sleep good last night. I know who I am. I know what faith and service means and what it calls for in this moment. We will not let hate win.”
It is even more powerful when you listen to it. Here it is