This letter was written to my girls, as part of a project from the Idaho Black History Museum. Adults are speaking to children about the current racial climate.
To my beloved girls:
You have heard me say it over and over again: “A lot of people love you.” My mother and father, Nana and Grandpop, watch over you from Heaven. Then there are the dozens of family and friends still here on earth, from me and your mother to the dozens of relatives around us. We adore the creative ways that you think and talk. We cherish your smiles and the joy you bring. You are smart, strong, and beautiful. We see you. Sometimes you feel angry and hurt. These feelings are justified and we understand.
You have been enormously fortunate to have experienced almost no trauma, so far. I always stay cognizant of how and why this is the case: a large group of Black men and women toiled before you. They bore pain and suffering, sometimes at unthinkable levels, so that our family can live comfortably today. We have a quality of life that your Black ancestors, born and raised during Jim Crow segregation in the deep south, could never have dreamed of.
The thought makes me cry silently – along with the reality that many things will become progressively more challenging for you. For now, your mother and I have been able to shield you from much of the sting of insidious racism. You deserve to be protected, seen, heard, and loved. But as you grow into the larger world, it will require more of a fight to maintain your basic, God-given rights.
We are in a time when history is once again repeating itself. Our nation has an ugly history of racism and sexism. Idaho is not exempt. It has been hard for you to find friends who share your experiences. I’ve devoted my life to your welfare to help you advocate for yourselves and develop ways to reshape the world in which you live.
Always remember that other people’s prejudices have absolutely nothing to do with you. Support is all around you. Healing is possible. When setbacks and disappointments arise, press onward and channel your righteous indignation into righteous action.
Never forget that people who love you are always by your side. Some walk with us, others are unseen. We are all linked arm–in-arm, and we are on the right side of justice.