Today, I write to the child whose attendance at the third funeral this month has become hollow. Whose heart, at this hour, is filling up with fear, churning inevitably into hate. Whose variations of melanin create a feeling of unconscious inferiority. The child who can no longer walk down the street without holding paranoia’s hand. The American boys and girls who have been forgotten, left running behind the bus. The same children caught in the loophole of the 13th Amendment. You are the casualties of a broken nation, and I write to you.

Our roots are as one, our skin, a coat in which we share. However, your home, the 405, the OKC, falls defeated to the ground, blood pouring from the bullet wound, as an American boy in blue holds steady aim. My home, the 207, the Vacationland of red, white and blue, applies the duct tape to my mouth, for the brotherhood of the good ol’ boys runs deep. I will not lie to you. I know not of the feeling of losing my father, my brother, mother or friend, and I will not sit here and tell that I do. In this world, I am seen more as a fetish of flesh than a threat to society. I can walk outside my home without the overbearing cloud of hoodlum society.

Today, I write to the little boy who grows up to be the American black man. The man who must always say “yes sir,” “no sir,” “please do not shoot, sir.” The man who must dodge profiling; dodge mass incarceration; dodge bullets. The man who is my father, my brother, my friend. The man who is their enemy, another body, another quota. The men who are forced to prove themselves as noncriminals from the moment of their birth. The men who have been seen as cattle, burdens of society, prison commodities, but never truly human. The men who have had to fight the stereotype of being rapists and criminals, the mockery of D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation” (1915).

To the boy: Be more than a stereotype, more than a minstrel show puppet. To the man: Do not let them tell you that you are a monster; put down your fist and raise your voice: for your words are your weapon.

I write to the little girls with skin of cocoa, embracing and loving their natural hair and curves. I write to the women they grow up to be, strong, leaders. The women who challenge social constructs, change legislatures. The women who must prove their beauty in a porcelain domain. The women who excel in academics, yet get no recognition apart from twerking and weaves. The women who are more than America’s comic relief, more than Madea’s shadow. The daughters of the Nile and the Mississippi. I write to the mothers who lost their husbands and sons. The women who, when their brothers are knocked to the ground and silenced, they pick up the speaker and lead a movement: for their words are their weapon.

Yesterday, I could have offered you no more than a timid plea. A scared child in the arms of my grandfather, Jim Crow. I did not believe in the reality of America, the struggle that so many of my brothers and sisters endure. Today, I offer you my voice, my brain, my soul. I offer to you the thoughts of a light-skinned girl living in the community surrounding “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” A place without action, without the enthusiasm for change. Tomorrow, I will offer you communication, dialogue. I will offer you the mind of compromise, and the destruction of a system.

No longer must you run behind the bus. The fear of your own voice will cease to exist. Give me your hand and I will give you my voice: for my words are my weapon.

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