Open Letter to Congress — Heavy is the Head that Wears the Crown

The day after an attempted coup d’etat in the nation’s capital

United States Capitol, Washington, DC

January 7, 2020

Dear Congress:

Wednesday, people around the world watched in stupor as armed terrorists breached the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol and attempted an insurrection. Wednesday night, we all watched as the men and women of Congress made impassioned speeches about the sanctity of our democratic institutions and the importance of peaceful transitions of power. We also watched as many spoke about “real America” and what America really is.

We, the people of the District of Columbia, would like a few words. While the world watched in horror, residents of the capital city were shuttering businesses, running for cover, and watching as rioters, foaming at the mouth like rabid dogs, overran our backyard.

The America you claim to be the real America is here. There are approximately 712,000 Americans who live, have families, go to work, to school (the school children here don’t get the luxury of abstraction through television because this is our home and they’re frightened), die in our wars, eat dinner, and have friends right here in Washington, D.C. There are many multi-generation families born, raised, and living in this city. This reality is often dismissed because these families are, for the most part, Black Americans. In your eyes, Washington, DC, the real Washington, DC, is hamstrung by, to quote late Senator Edward Kennedy, “the four too’s—too urban, too Black, too Democratic, and too liberal.”

The other truth is that you all don’t care about Washington, D.C. You. Don’t. Care. You waltz in and out, work three day work weeks, and spend your weekends in your home states. You do not spend time in our city. Your only concept of Washington, D.C. is through the prism of your own tunnel vision. You willfully, and gleefully, deny voting representation to the Americans that live in this 68.34 square miles of the United States, but force us to pay federal taxes. You deny us home rule, force us to submit the city’s budgets to Congress for approval; including budgets that use only money generated by our own local taxes.

The faux outrage you displayed Wednesday night is galling. How dare you go on and on about the preciousness of Washington, D.C. when you won’t let our government protect its own city without permission from the federal government. The expression “heavy is the head that wears the crown” has never been more apt. The responsibility lies with you and with the President. This happened because you tacitly allowed the President, other politicians, Fox News, OANN, Alex Jones, and others, to lie to people about this election. I hope that you understand that we will never forget what your actions have wrought. We hope that it keeps you up at night, but we know that it won’t because you have proved over and over that your really do not care about American citizens in Washington, D.C. Your actions and inactions are directly to blame for what happened.

Do you want to know what life in not “real America” looks like? On Wednesday, my daughter and I went to her orthodontist appointment. His office happens to be about a block from the White House. The decision was made, by me and my husband, after much discussion about the safety concerns. We were very early since we had to navigate around the protest, quickly turned riot, road closures and were unsure of the traffic situation. And, due to the fact that we’re also existing during a pandemic, we didn’t want to spend a lot of extra time in their very small waiting room, so we waited outside. We stood watching, seeing face-to-face, the people who politicians fomented into insurrection.

We didn’t go inside the Starbucks across the street because there was a line of unmasked people inside, one woman wearing an American flag draped across her shoulders like a cape. We decided the best place to wait was near the police car blocking the road because we would, at least, be close to law enforcement if things went pear-shaped. And as an aside, that decision I made is the very essence of White privilege. We knew we had a more than decent chance of being safe with the police. Both of those things, the safety and the White privilege of it all, are the things a parent in Washington, D.C. has to consider when the violent mob, who’ve been told to hate anyone who even looks like a liberal (whatever a liberal looks like) comes to town.

*Update: Friday, January 8, 2020

The school that my children attend, in the city that you insist isn’t “real America”, just had a whole school meeting to explain to the frightened students about the events of Wednesday, January 6, 2020. See, these children, all of the children in the District of Columbia, not in “real America”, don’t get to pretend that it was all just some abstract event they saw on television. They don’t have that luxury. They have to talk about it because it was here, in our home, not just on our television screens.

Now is the time to discuss statehood for Washington, D.C. Now is the time to give voting representation to the 712,000 Americans who live in our nation’s capital. Now is the time to shut your mouths about “real America” if you refuse to acknowledge the very place you’re employed is real America and populated by real Americans.

Yours most disrespectfully,

Katherine P. Ferry

A federal tax paying, non-voting representation having, citizen of Washington, D.C., the Nation’s Capital, and not “real America”