Dear Emery and Mkazo,
It’s 11 p.m. Sunday, August 13, 2017, and I should be in bed. Your mom and I put you and your sister to bed a few hours ago after wrestling with the events of Charlottesville, Virginia.
For you, it was another Sunday in our small beach town outside of the country you were born in called the United States. Emery and Mkazo, today you are only four and five years of age but I want to tell you about white supremacy and what happened yesterday in a country we call home.
Yes, it is 2017, and white nationalism continues to exist. A group rallied yesterday to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue at the University of Virginia and to chant racist and anti-Semitic slogans. They were seeking a platform to affirm for the world that racism is alive and well enough to run an infinite number of marathons around the United States. A woman was killed yesterday and several others were injured because they stood in opposition. Yesterday, a white nationalist drove his car into a group of protesters, killing Heather D. Heyer and according to the New York Times injured at least 34 others. It’s this reality that keeps me awake at night when I need to sleep.
By the time, you can understand this letter I hope that these events seem unreal. I’m optimistic that this world will change and all acts of white supremacy will feel like a distant past. I’m also aware of the intricacies of racism (white supremacy) and how it impacts our lives as people of color. Yes, we currently live in Mexico, but there will come a day and time for us to return to the United States. As a Black man, I have to come to understand that I need to do my part to disrupt white supremacy.
White supremacy includes individuals and systems that support social inequalities based on perceived differences in human bodies. It includes overt acts, like the white nationalist groups that rallied over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the daily subtleties of unequal resource distribution within public education. White supremacy is covert and overt in the society that we live in, and I want you to know how men should respond.
You are boys now, but as men, you should engage work that is meaningful and challenges racism. I am not suggesting that women do not bear the same responsibility. Your sister should also get involved in the struggle for justice against individual and systemic white supremacy. I believe she has the intellectual ability, physical strength, and mental stamina like her brothers. However, today I want to provide you with two actions among many that you can take as men in opposition to racism.
- Commit to being a voice for the voiceless. In whatever field of work, you find yourself; please commit to speaking up for and with people who may not have the political power to address injustices.
- Use creativity to spread awareness. With whatever talents and skills you develop, be sure to use them as a vehicle to transport information that can be helpful to others who are in need.
Emery and Mkazo, today you are boys, but one day you will be men responsible to take actions like the ones mentioned above. I hope that you live long lives that do not end prematurely like Heather D. Heyer because of your anti-racist work. Unfortunately, her name will be among the Medgar Evers, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, Virgil Lamar Ware, and countless others who lost their lives due to the persistence of white supremacy. Although you are children today, I want you to understand a few things about being a man in the age of white supremacy.
I want you to know that being a man is not about shopping at Home Depot or playing basketball. It’s not about doing all of the things that boys are taught men do in their spare time. Manhood does involve understanding oppression and finding the courage to take action. Such actions will need to take different forms in response to the game of white supremacy, where the rules consistently change. However, boys who become men are capable of defining their own identities and developing responses to racial hatred.
It’s now 1:15 AM and I need to try and get some rest. I will end this letter with these final remarks. I hope that for your sake the events that happened in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017, are rare acts of hatred that do not continue to plague the nation we call home. In all likelihood, that white supremacy continues to thrive and build stamina through group rallies and systemic inequalities; I want you to know that a part of being a man is cultivating the courage to take a stand against injustice.
I love you,
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