My heart has been heavy over the state of our little brown children lately. I’ve started and stopped writing about this McKinney incident several times for different reasons. What can I say that hasn’t been said? How can I explain this to my babies? What if this happened to my babies (I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now if it was)? How can I protect them? While I don’t know all of the answers, I do know that I can give them as much guidance as I possibly can. While I know, not everyone feels one way or another, I just want them to know how to interact with the “bad apples” should they ever need to. So I decided to write an open letter to my little brown children…
My dearest children,
First and foremost, I love you more than words can say. I’m writing this letter because there are some things that I need you to know. I need you to know that although we’ve come a long way, we have an even longer way to go in this United States of America. Here are just a few things that I want you to always keep in mind as you get older, because I have a feeling that things may not be too different in a few years, than they are right now.
1. People can be mean
I know we teach you that you should always treat people the way you want to be treated. But unfortunately, not everyone lives by this rule. In fact, you will come across a lot of downright mean and nasty people. They may call you names, curse at you or treat you like you are worthless. But don’t let this break your beautiful spirit, or cause you to treat them the way they’re treating you. Teach people how to treat you by holding your head up high, and not engaging in their shenanigans (obviously, you are being taught how to defend yourself through Taekwondo…so if you need to defend yourself, please do).
2. Embrace who you are
Don’t ever be ashamed of where you come from. God made us who we are for a reason. You are black, and regardless of how ugly people may treat you or portray you, you are beautiful and handsome. Point. Blank. Period.
3. Racism is still real
I’m hoping that it gets better, I really am. But racism is still alive and well. Instead of getting better, it’s continuing to get worse. I know you’ve learned about Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman… and once upon a time when there were slaves. Yes, we live in different times now, but the times are really not all that different. Don’t try to understand it because it will never make sense. Just know that it exists regardless of how people try to explain their way out of it.
4. You are not equal (in their eyes)
It doesn’t matter how many white friends we may have, or what nice cars we drive, or what fabulous neighborhoods we live in. You will never be seen as equal to your white counterparts. No, you can’t do what they do and get away with it. If you act up or talk back, you’ll be seen as a rowdy thug. But don’t be surprised when they do it and are told they just need an outlet or some medication. No, you will never be equal (in their eyes).
5. You always have a choice
We hope that you will always choose common sense over ignorance and peace over violence. We hope that you will always choose to walk away from any situation that looks like it’s heading for danger. While we hope and pray that you will never be faced with a situation like what happened at McKinney, we hope you will choose to give authorities as little reason as possible to want to harm you. Choose to listen and do what they say even if you don’t agree (as long as it doesn’t cause harm to you or anyone else).
6. Prayer is your power
Above all else, remember that your faith is your biggest asset. No one can ever take away your prayers. When you find yourself in fear, doubt or anger… take it to God and pray. But then always back your prayer up with action because faith without works is dead. If you pray for peace, you need to demonstrate peace. If you pray for courage, don’t allow fear to cripple you. If you pray for justice, do your part to be part of the solution.
I hope and pray that as you get older, the world will get better. But if it doesn’t, I hope you’ll always know the power of your greatness. I pray that these few words and the words I share with you throughout your life will always empower and encourage you. The color of your skin does not define you, but your character does. Always remember that.
Love and blessings,
BMWK: What other things would you add to this letter? How are you talking to your kids about racism?
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