A Letter To My Children
To my children,
I want more for you.
I want a world where people acknowledge the differences in their skin color, the languages they speak, the texture of their hair, their religious beliefs, traditions, foods their families eat, etc. and choose to celebrate those differences rather than shy away from them. A world where instead of that one kid’s lunch being weird and smelly it’s new and intriguing. One where you notice something different between yourself and your friend, and choose to learn more about it. A world where people are treated equally, words are spoken kindly, and all people live peacefully amongst each other. A world driven by love, not fear. I want a world where people build each other up rather than tear each other down. Where we applaud each other for standing up for the things we believe in, and show respect even when we disagree. I want a world full of love for humanity.
Our nation is at a turning point. In it all, my mind keeps coming back to this world I want for you, and what I can do now to get us there. The justice we are fighting for now determines your future. The books we read together, movies we watch, and conversations we have around the dinner table today shape who you will become, and what you will hold in your heart.
What a responsibility.
As you grow, here are the things I hope to show you through my own actions.
Skin color does not define the person, but it does define history. Educate yourself on the past. Ignorance is not bliss.
Don’t hide in comfort. Acknowledge your flaws. Don’t let shame keep you silent. Shame can only survive in darkness. Address your flaws out loud. Bring them into the light.
If you are actively working on yourself, you’re doing it right. Nobody expects you to be perfect in this moment. They expect you to put the work in. Keep pushing forward.
Support causes because they are important, not because they’re trendy. Realize that posting or hashtagging something is simply not enough. It’s just the start. Now it’s time for the real work.
Practice what you preach. If you say it, be prepared to back it up. Make a point of standing behind your convictions. Educate yourself, donate your money and time, make your voice heard for those who aren’t able to.
Do not seek recognition for your actions. If you need to be praised for doing something, check your intentions.
Don’t get defensive when someone calls out the bigger picture. The term “White Privilege” and the hashtag #blacklivesmatter are not digs at you personally, they are realities that need to be brought into the spotlight. They are calls to action. Nobody is saying you are actively trying to be racist. They are noting the privilege you were born into. Nobody is saying your life doesn’t matter. That was never a question.
Support each other. When your friend is upset about something, you stand behind them. You let them lean on you. People are tired. Let them lean on you.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you let the fear of coming off as uneducated or politically incorrect keep you from learning, you will never grow. But don’t expect people of color to teach you. It is not their job to educate you. You have the means to find the answer. Do the work.
LISTEN. You don’t always have to have something to say. Sometimes your job is just to listen.
Do better than I have. Do better than my generation, and the generations ahead of mine. I am sorry we haven’t done better already.
Surround yourself with a diverse group of people that challenge you, hold you up, teach you, listen to you, and respect you...just as you do for them.
And most of all, show love and empathy. To everyone. Everywhere.
I want the very best for you. And that starts with me. I will do better.
Love you always,