We’ve been presented with a Clamsplaining conundrum today. And we had to have a full group discussion in order to fully wrap our heads around it. We’re still a bit puzzled, so we’re going to open up the conversation and the problem to you all in Clam Nation.
Do we take the time to explain to the good people of Gloucester, that if you are a fan of Human Rights, you need to send a message today to the City Council, to prevent the appointment of Amanda Orlando Kesterson to the Human Rights Commission? Or, do we explain to that same woman, that this city commission she has applied to join, is in fact, responsible for ensuring the rights of ALL people (gay, straight, trans, cis, undocumented, women and their reproductive rights) are protected, and advanced?
We assume that the good people of Gloucester may need a heads up that the vote is this week, and that we are certain the city can find a person better suited to serving on this commission (or perhaps, couldn’t find a WORSE person). Please, send an email. Make a call.
Upon reflection, we actually don’t think it is possible that AOK understands the function of the Human Rights Commission, nor the responsibility that she would be tasked with. This is not a chance to debate the importance of “men’s rights”, or to affirm the notion of “reverse racism”.
Briefly, the Commission is tasked with ensuring that:
No person in our city shall be unlawfully discriminated against in matters of housing, employment, education, contracts, purchasing or public accommodations, on the basis of: age, ancestry, citizenship, color, disability, economic status, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender, military status, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation or source of income.
We feel it might be helpful to help Amanda understand that, by being appointed to this commission, she would be expected to be a loud voice in our community advocating for the right, and ABILITY of all people in Gloucester to live a life of freedom and liberty. The Commission does not debate IF people are worthy of basic rights, but rather, to provide support, insight, and advocacy for people when their rights are at risk.
Her letter asking for consideration to the city council suggests that she is unclear on this aspect of the position. She offers that she can’t know in advance what her positions will be on issues coming before the commission… there will not be debates about who deserves to be treated with equity, it should be pretty easy to say “if appointed, I commit wholeheartedly to offering the full spectrum of my gifts to ensure that human rights are protected, full stop”.
Seeking political support from people who have fought hard AGAINST the ACTUAL RIGHTS OF OTHERS, IS, IN FACT demonstration of an inability to treat “ALL people with respect, kindness and understanding”.
In nearby communities, Human Rights Commissions have led forums on Immigrant rights, and Sanctuary. Educational opportunities to enter into challenging dialogues around race, and support for those in our state recently targeted with the efforts to roll back civil rights protections for trans people. We hope and expect the same here in Gloucester.
It is fascinating to us, that in the same week that her appointment is to be reviewed, she held a fundraiser with Jim Lyons, arguably the most prominent ANTI-LGBTQ politician in the state, before he lost his seat in that liberal hotbed of Andover, he was particularly known for his championing of GAY CONVERSION THERAPY, and his efforts to prevent the state from providing civil rights protections for trans people in MA.
A Human Rights Commission is a sign of a community that cares about those on the margins, and specifically, members of a Human Rights Commission need to be capable of handling difficult and sometimes sensitive information. Members of a Human Rights Commission need to be people KNOWN for compassion, for commitment to those who don’t share the same privileges, and for being willing to step up and step forward for those whose rights are most at risk.
We have seen time and again, how Amanda has leveraged local politics to gain a voice at the state level, and even nationally. Little about her past performance suggests that she has the ability to
We applaud her desire to stretch and grow in this new and unforeseen way, but until she has had a chance to demonstrate the ability to offer voice and advocacy for those already oppressed, we think her past actions, statements, and fundraisers (as long ago as 1/09/2020) suggest she is not an appropriate fit for this role in our community. And we’d urge Gloucester’s City Council to reject her appointment.