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Sister act: did Kerri Greenidge sign the Harper’s letter or not?

A strange tale of familial miscommunication

July 10, 2020

6:03 PM

10 July 2020

6:03 PM

Have you met the Greenidge sisters — Kirsten, Kerri, and Kaitlyn? They are quite the trio. Kirsten, the eldest, is a playwright who teaches at Boston University; Kerri, the middle one, is a historian and the director of American Studies at Tufts University; and youngest Kaitlyn is the author of the award-winning We Love You, Charlie Freeman who also writes for the New York Times. Fancy that?

Kerri has found herself in hot water this week after she signed the now notorious Harper’s letter in defense of free thought and free expression. She appears to have been stunned by the hostile reaction the letter received. Within hours of its publication she tweeted: ‘I do not endorse this @harpers letter. I am in contact with Harper’s about a retraction.’

Small problem: Kerri had endorsed the letter and Harper’s has the emails to prove it. On Monday June 29, she replied to an email about the joint letter saying ‘yes, I will add my signature. It reads well. Let me know what you more you need from me.’

Harper’s email to Kerri Greenidge

Kerri Greenidge agrees to sign the Harper’s letter

Hmm. Cockburn is baffled. Did Kerri not read the letter she added her signature to? Did she not realize who all the co-signatories were (the list the letter organizer sent her was incomplete) and was then horrified to realize she had affiliated herself with the outrageous transphobe J.K. Rowling, among others? Or was somebody else using her email account? Alas, Kerri did not answer Cockburn’s questions. She’s also made her Twitter account private, which is a shame.


Kerri’s sisters seem to have been doing her comms for her, however. Cockburn has seen an email that Kirsten wrote to Harper’s:

Kirsten Greenidge emails Harper’s to complain

Kirsten has also not answered Cockburn’s request for comments.

Kaitlyn went further still. ‘A colleague in a professional org my sis belongs to added my sister’s name without her consent,’ she tweeted. ‘So mad at this person rn.’ She added, ‘That @ Harpers letter came to me last week and I was so mad about it when I read it have been angry about it for days. My sister does not condone it either and does not agree with its contents. This is a mess.’

It certainly is a mess. The Greenidge sisters once claimed in a joint interview that they are in constant communication with each other. Yet they seem oddly unaware of what the other is saying. Did Kerri even ask to be removed?

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A source at Harper’s says, ‘she never asked directly…it was only implied in emails with one of the organizers.’

Kerri put an exclamation point on her newly found dissent by also signing the anti-letter published in response to Harper’s. Well, unless she later claims that was done without her knowledge too.

The mystery deepens but the lesson is clear. Be careful what you sign, sister.


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