I find myself at a loss of words or perhaps better put, I find the words I have to be lacking. As we get closer to LL Cool T’s arrival, we are at a crisis in this country. We have seen protests throughout the country and millions of people trying to shout to the world that black lives matter. I felt like everything I would have to say pales in comparison to what is really the core issue that affects us all, but which I have the privilege to close my eyes to, even though I do not intend to nor want to. I have been spending so much time thinking about how to explain this divisiveness in the world to our future child and then wondering how I can be even remotely qualified to explain it as a white woman. I do not want my child to abuse their privilege, but I wonder how much wisdom and guidance I can give on this issue. So, in absence of any truly helpful words and in hopes that putting this into words for the public will make me even more responsible to my promises, I will share with you a letter I am writing to my future child.
We are so excited for you to arrive in just a few weeks. You will enter into a household and family full of love, laughter, and general happiness. You will be spoiled by your parents, your grandparents, your aunts, your uncles, and your cousins. You will have your special guardian angel–your sister Colette. We will provide you with everything we can, most of all our love. We hope that when you are an adult, you will look back and consider yourself lucky to have been a part of our family.
But, the world you are entering is one that is often missing love and laughter.
As I write this, protests are occurring across the country and the world in response to a series of African Americans who have been killed by police. You will be exposed very quickly to the phrase, “Black lives matter,” and you will have lots of questions, I am sure. Dad and I will try our very best to answer them the best we can and to find those better equipped to answer the questions we cannot.
The truth is you will be born privileged solely because of the color of your skin. Because your skin will be white, doors will open to you that your peers will not have opened. You will not have the same worries as your black friends when a police officer approaches you. You will not enter a store and immediately draw suspicion because of your race. These things will draw countless benefits for you.
Please, please, please do not simply draw benefits from your privilege to be used for yourself. Use your privilege to help others. Be the voice for friends who cannot speak out because of fear of harm to themselves. Actively call out the racist comments or jokes you may hear. Serve as a true ally, not just someone who says, “I am not racist,” but someone who truly believes that to their core and does whatever they can to put those words into action.
You will be lucky and blessed on so many points, but you will also be parented by two passionate activists.
We will not settle for mere passivity, but will encourage and push you to do more, to make the world a better place. We promise that we will consistently expose you to different cultural and racial experiences, that we will talk with you about all the news that is happening at the moment, and that we will fill in the historical components and explain the whys that you may not understand. We also promise that we will also be vocally anti-racist and will encourage you to call us out when we are not doing it, just as we will do with you.
Your dad and I do not know what it is like and you will not either. We will never pretend that we truly understand the feeling of being pulled over by the police and fearing your death. We also know that when I was pregnant with your sister and delivering her with complications, the results allowed me to live to be your mom, but that if I had been of a different race, that might not have been the case. What we will do is to point out the discrepancies and inequalities, to find ways that we can individually and as a family do better to fight for real true change in the world. We promise to expose you to many people, to allow you to ask the difficult questions, to push us to be better and that we will in turn do the same for you.
We also promise to support you if your active anti-racism views compel you to protest. We will always want you to be safe and will tell you about how best to protect yourself in protests and sit-ins and demonstrations. We will tell you that your privilege once again can be a benefit to others because you can protect them. We will also prepare you with all the tools to keep yourself safe and most likely with a fellow supporter to walk alongside you, whether it is one or both of us or someone else. And if things turn, we promise that we will bail you out of jail as many times as necessary, as long as it is due to fighting the fight and not because of criminal activity.
We cannot wait to meet you and to bring you home, to see you grow up and develop into the unique person you will become.
We promise to love you always no matter what, to make your childhood into the happiest it can be. We also promise that your friends will always be welcome inside our home, regardless of any of their backgrounds, and that you will be instructed and shown how to love everyone and not to label people solely because of race or any other one thing. We will continue to fight the fight here because that’s what we do and we will bring you along for the ride. We told your sister before she died, that we needed her to continue the fight from heaven and that we would do it here. We so look forward to knowing that one day, our whole family will continue to make a difference in the world.
Love you lots!