Where do I start? When you were born it was one of the happiest moments of my life.
To see you put in your mom’s arms, your baby blue eyes and your healthy cry; after everything we went through the year before with your sister dying and all of the sadness…you were a miracle baby.
You always gave me trouble from the very start, you decided to be born 3 weeks early on MY due date! So while your mom gave birth I squatted by her side 9+ months pregnant supporting her through every single breath.
I love you.
There is nothing that can ever change that fact; I love you, I have and will love you.
I can’t support something that happened today, and I’m writing this letter to explain to you from one white person to another why something that happened today was very, very wrong.
As white people we are born privileged. That means in short: we don’t have to apologize for who we are, we have to worry about what we say or do. We are privileged because our skin is white.
It might sound silly, so let me explain.. What does that even really mean to be privileged?
It means that when we go in a store we aren’t followed around, when we go somewhere people don’t question our motives or intentions. When we move into a new neighborhood nobody cares. We can do anything we want without anyone assuming that we are bad people, gang members or drug addicts. We can easily get jobs and are accepted into all environments. All because we have white skin.
Does that sound fair? Not really. Does it sound fair to you that your cousin, who grew in my belly while you grew in your mom’s; we ate the same food, watched the same shows on TV, even went to the same doctors and gave birth 8 days apart at the same hospital and your cousin still is considered less than you to society because he is half Puerto Rican which makes him a person of color? That he is more likely to get killed by police or end up in jail.
It seems crazy to think that his entire life he will be questioned for who he is; and you will not. Only because he is not white, and you are.
When you think of or hear someone saying Black Lives Matter it makes you mad, it makes you angry, maybe it even hurts your feelings.
Why? Does it make you feel like someone is saying that your life doesn’t matter? I promise you that that is not what it means.
I want to explain this to you because I care about you. And because I honestly do not think that anyone has truthfully explained to you what Black Lives Matter means. Or is about.
You have the choice to make your own decisions after reading this, and as your aunt; a white person and a mother of black children I feel like it would be wrong of me to you and your cousins not to explain it to you. You can take me seriously or you can dismiss my words, the choice is yours.
I honestly hope that you will read this to the end without judgements and believe me that I am trying to share my knowledge with you, I have never lied to you, and I would not start now. After reading this you can form your own opinions.
Black Lives Matter DOES NOT mean that white lives do not matter. That is not what the point is. The point is to draw attention to the unfair treatment of Black people and people of color; anyone who is not privileged.
If someone wears pink to support Breast Cancer; does that mean that they don’t think Brain Cancer matters? No. It means that they are showing support for Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer awareness.
If someone believes that “Save the Bees” is important, and fights for the Bees, does that mean they are against endangered elephants and want them all to die? No.
It’s the same thing with the Black Lives Matter campaign.
Wearing a Black Lives Matter button, like your cousin was today, was her way of supporting people of color, including herself!
It was her shout out….. saying, “I support you.” I think you matter. I matter.
Think about all the times someone has shown support for you, at a football game, or baseball game; or when you played the drums, or graduated from 6th or 8th grade.
Did that support mean that they wanted everyone else to fail? No. It meant they wanted YOU TO SUCCEED.
Now think about those times that people have put you down just for being yourself, or have told you that you suck and booed when you wished they would have cheered. That is how you made your cousins feel today.
Sometimes we don’t understand, and that is why we say or do certain things. That is why I am telling you this; I don’t know if you really understood what you were saying tonight or if you really understood the way you were deeply hurting your family; and how your words were in fact very privileged and racist.
I took the time to write this because you are only 15 and I do not know if your intentions were to be racist, or sound racist; but I am telling you that they were.
I want you to know that your words hurt your cousin today.
That she is mad and hurt and wants nothing to do with you ever again now because of the words that you said. That is strong feelings, she is severely hurt. And she is only 12.
I want you to know that ALL the people who are not white in your family were and are hurt by your words and that I your white aunt am hurt too.
What does this all mean? I wanted to share this knowledge with you, these words. Now that I have told you another point of view, you are the only one who can decide what it means to you, not me or anyone else.
As white people, part of our privilege is that we get to choose to be supportive to people of color; Or choose not be supportive.
There is no in between. I personally hope you choose to be supportive and join in the fight against racism from this point on. It’s your choice though.