Lenny.

Dear Lenny –

I love you so very much, my Lenny bear! I am so sorry that you feel like the world doesn’t love you – but I do. You are an amazing little guy, with so much to offer this world. You have the kindest heart and the best smile. You also give the best hugs when people need them the most. I wish you could be a kid forever, so we could keep you safe forever. I hope the world you grow into loves you just as much as I do. I promise to always defend you.

<3,

Jax

Lenny is my best friend Cindy’s son. In explaining the protests, she had to have the heartbreaking conversation with him that he is viewed differently – negatively – because of the color of his skin. He asked her: why doesn’t the world love me or my daddy? At just five years old, he is starting to learn that his place in the world isn’t as safe as he once thought.

Imagine having to have that conversation with your son. Imagine saying that to a child who is pure light, goodness, and joy. Imagine knowing that once he becomes a teenager, growing tall and strong, he will begin to be perceived as a threat by the world outside the safety of his home. Imagine knowing that your son has to fight ten times as hard as everyone else to prove he belongs, is intelligent, isn’t a threat, and deserves to wake to see another day.

It’s not my job to tell you what to do or think or which side to stand on. I, myself, have lots of learning (and unlearning) to do, and I have begun that process. They’re uncomfortable conversations and introspections to have. But I do know that race isn’t a joke, that skin color affords some of us certain privileges, that police brutality is never warranted, and that our commander in chief is a race-baiter, among other things. I also know what’s right and what’s wrong. It is never right to watch a man be suffocated to death over $20. It is not okay for 15-year-old boys to be murdered for running away from the cops or because someone thinks they don’t belong in a particular neighborhood. It is also not right to have watched it happen for so long or to let it happen ever again. There are so many things that are just not okay. This calls for a systemic overhaul (and not just in law enforcement) and that can only happen if we each do our own work and come together as a collective to insist that BLACK LIVES MATTER.

P.S. Anyone interested in doing some reading, I recommend Dr. Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. It’s put a lot of things into perspective for me. It’s a text everyone can read, regardless of race.

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