Dear President Biden, Vice President Harris, and Members of the 117th Congress,
Growing up I remember singing hymns with lines like, “You can’t beat God’s giving, no matter how you try” or asking myself: Is my “all on the altar of sacrifice”? As a divorced mother of two, I often sang these lyrics while driving my minivan with the gas gauge hovering on “E” for empty. In the United States of America, Black women tend to be breadwinning mothers more so than other racially identified women. Prior to obtaining my Ph.D. in New Testament, I remember those days well.
In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus praises a widow who placed two small coins into the treasury. Noting that the rich gave “out of their abundance,” Jesus says that she gave “her whole existence.” Commentators commend the woman because she gave at such great personal cost. I have a difficult time with that reading. Prior to the widow’s offering, in Mark 12:38-40, Jesus denounces scribes who “devour widows’ houses,” meaning that the scribes often took material advantage of widows by overtaxing them to the point of unpayable debts and subsequent destitution.
“My hope and prayer is that we focus our collective attention on the women who are being left behind.”
One lesson here is that people have value, aside from their financial circumstances. Another take-away is that the most vulnerable in society require protections, particularly the right to earn substantial living wages.
According to one study, as a result of the Covid health and economic pandemic, women lost more than one million more jobs than men by the end of 2020. Of this group, Black, Hispanic, and Asian women accounted for all of women’s job losses in December, with 154,000 Black women dropping out of the labor force entirely.
We are facing some hellacious problems in the United States today. My hope and prayer is that we focus our collective attention on the women who are being left behind. President Biden, I supported your candidacy because you wanted someone like Vice President Harris to be the last person in the room when big decisions are made. My prayer is that all our leaders in Washington adequately serve the countless women who have put their all on the altars of sacrifice and have nothing left.
Angela N. Parker
Rev. Angela N. Parker, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of New Testament and Greek
Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology