A group of black women sent a letter this week to the two top Democrats in Congress demanding that they apologize for their veiled criticisms of Rep. Maxine Waters and threatening repercussions at the ballot box in November if they do not.
“For Black women, who are the most loyal base of the Democratic Party and the Progressive Movement, Congresswoman Waters is our shero [sic],” declared the letter signed by nearly 200 people, mostly black female academics, activists, local elected officials, political consultants, and religious leaders, along with a few male allies.
The letter, a copy of which was posted by Politico on Wednesday, accused House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, both of whom are white, of racial insensitivity and expressed “our profound indignation and deep disappointment over your recent failure to protect Congresswoman Waters.”
In June, Ms. Waters called for people to drive any Trump administration official from any public space, prompting Republicans to begin making political hay on those comments.
The Democratic leaders in Congress distanced themselves from Ms. Waters. Mrs. Pelosi said calls for incivility in response to President Trump are “predictable but unacceptable,” and Mr. Schumer said calling “for the harassment of political opponents [is] not right. That’s not American.”
The black women were having none of that.
“Failing to support Congresswoman Waters is an affront to her and Black women across the country and telegraphs a message that the Democratic Party can ill afford: that it does not respect Black women’s leadership and political power and discounts the impact of Black women and millennial voters,” they wrote in the letter, addressed to Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer.
“We further believe Congresswoman Waters is owed an apology for your public comments insinuating she is ‘uncivil’ and ‘unAmerican’ for challenging the Trump Administration,” they wrote, going on to insinuate that calls for civility ring hollow to black women.
“As women whose ancestors have lived through the incivility of slavery, segregation, and all other forms of discrimination, racism, and sexism … we consider it an insult to characterize Ms. Waters’ call for the exercise of our constitutional rights as uncivil and un-American,” they wrote.
In a statement Wednesday, Mrs. Pelosi blamed Mr. Trump for collapsing civility and said “Congresswoman Maxine Waters is a valued leader.”