Dear sweet little baby joy,
There is nothing like a new baby to bring hope into the world. I know there are those who already loved you when you were barely a timorous, yet tickling and intoxicating thought in the minds of your parents.
Welcome to the world, my dear. I missed your birth, but I just wanted to say how much I would have loved you if I were still alive. Your grandma was my baby once upon a time, so I know the joy you have brought to your family.
First and foremost, I would like to apologize to you that I didn’t spend more of my life fighting to dismantle white supremacy.
After we had our first African American president, Barack Obama, a segment of our country rejoiced that we were becoming post-racial, whatever that meant. Another segment went into survival mode. The racists came out of hiding, raising up their repugnant heads. The powerful (who were powerful because they had white skin) were scared. They called it things like tea parties and conservatism instead of what it really was, fear of losing their ill-gotten and undeserved power.
There was only one silver lining in the debacle of the 46-1 presidency that you will read about in your history books. It made lots of people like me aware of the awful condition of our country–there is no such thing as post-racial. Racism is at the heart of everything wrong with our country. It is the foundation we are built on.
After hundreds of years of killing and displacing indigenous people and stealing, killing, and enslaving black people from Africa, we spent close to two more centuries clinging to white power, continuing to displace and kill people with abandon and impunity. But when that one was “elected,” I figured it would be temporary–I gave him less than 100 days.
But the country fell for the con.
Not really. The country was the con. The vile and vicious underbelly–the truth of systemic racism–was exposed in all its ugliness. It was flaunted and shouted from the mountaintops. People in power shoved their fingers into their ears and shouted lalalalalalalalalala to drown out the din of the circus in the Executive Branch and closed their eyes to pretend not to see the 40% of Americans embracing and celebrating the blatant racism he espoused. There were even whole media outlets committed to continuing the con.
Even though there was a very mentally ill man in the White House, the leaders would neither invoke the 25th Amendment nor would they remove him from office when he had been justly impeached. They had to pretend all was normal. Because if they didn’t, their power would collapse.
But you know the end of that story. The 46th president won by the largest landslide in the history of the country. She won all 50 states. The former president and most of his cronies spent years in prison, and at least blatant racism crawled back under the rock. However, not before a great majority finally acknowledged it, and finally became accomplices with our brothers and sisters of all colors to fight systemic racism.
Now, my sweet great grandbaby, you get to join this fight because, no matter how much we fight it, it’s still not gone completely. Don’t let your guard down. We have to keep up the fight for equal justice for all.
I love you and will watch you run your race with perseverance. I’ll be the one on my feet cheering you on from the grandstands (Hebrews 12:1).
P.S. I’m afraid this is much more difficult than I make it sound. People of color put up with the oppression of white people like me every single day. If it’s not 2050, and anyone is still reading this, I listened to a podcast today that helps white people know how to fight the right battles. Check it out here by Myisha T. Hill, Lettie Shumate and Weeze Doran.
Day 87 in Bahrain. This is Day 52 of The Isolation Journals with Suleika Jaouad. Today’s prompt was written by Carvell Wallace.