Judging a Nominee by the Content of Her Character
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Judging a Nominee by the Content of Her Character

Trump’s Pick to Head the Fish and Wildlife Service Is a Step Forward for Women and African-Americans and a Step Back for the Environment

This is not about Trump. Just kidding, it is. How can it not be when days seem longer than years under his administration? He recently made an uncharacteristic move. Two years into his imaginary dictatorship, the 45th U.S. president selected a special someone to officially head the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

His choice to head the powerful wildlife agency with an annual $2.8 billion budget is certainly a historic one. Aurelia Skipwith will be the first woman to ever head the agency and the first African-American woman to do so. Once confirmed by the Senate, Skipwith will, unfortunately, be counted on the wrong side of America’s collective story.

As proud of a moment as this is for women, American culture and specifically black culture, Trump with this pick only proves that a leopard never changes his spots. The move, although significant, is only self-serving for Trump. Skipwith is a bonafide Trump enabler and is described as the least qualified person and an alarming choice to head the federal agency charged with protecting wildlife and public lands, according to multiple reports quoting wildlife advocates and conservationists. And, she wasn’t even their first choice. Skipwith was selected by her now ousted boss—Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke—after his first choice, Greg Sheehan was disqualified for not having a science degree. And Sheehan was essentially leading FWS as principal deputy director, a position created by Zinke when he took office.

Skipwith is a bonafide Trump enabler and is the least qualified person and an alarming choice to head the federal agency charged with protecting wildlife and public lands.

I hold an equivocal opinion of Skipwith, a Howard University graduate and former Monsanto (now Bayer) executive—a company that’s had multiple worldwide marches held against it, punished for inflating profits, changing independent expert reports to cheat the system and embroiled in a list of other ethical violations. My heart wants to say, “Congrats Sis! Your success is evidence of the progress made, birthed by the hopes and dreams of our brutalized ancestors who carried the weight for the might America enjoys today.”

But the fact remains, Skipwith is part of the most destructive administration in recent U.S. history. She owns part of the largest rollback of environmental and land protection and helped usher in the era of Trump, America’s racist Godzilla.

Perhaps I’m too critical, but Skipwith naming Teddy Roosevelt, whose environmental legacy and views are clearly antithetical to hers, as the president whose environmental policies she’d like to emulate seems woefully misguided. The fact remains, she’s working to roll back Obama era environmental protection laws and help Trump and his greedy, environmentally hostile polluters steer in harmful changes to the Endangered Species Act, granting developers access to land Roosevelt would fight to protect and opening up most of our coastline for offshore oil drilling.

And yet, I’m conflicted in my condemnation of such a historic appointee who reflects something so much greater than self and bond to this unstable moment in our nation’s history. Unfortunately, we have a president exercising a moronic governing style and making most Americans feel like we’re living on the set of Idiocracy.

Although Skipwith will forever bare the stain of Trump’s legacy, I’m not mad a Sister’s getting paid and holding high office in the country her ancestors help built.

Featured image: Aurelia Skipwith

January 17, 2019