Remember when you were a little girl and thought the world was as innocent as you? You believed people were kind and compassionate, that everyone was as pure and loving as you. You would sit at the edge of your bed each summer night and look outside the window, wondering what it would be like to be an adult in this world, to live your dreams and travel up into the stars, to fall in love. You would crack open the window to feel the breeze on your black skin, listen to the silence, the peace of it all.
“Close your eyes,” the wind would whisper. “Witness it. Appreciate it. Be in it. Breathe.” Just breathe.
But there was a constant war you weren’t aware of, a continuous fight you couldn’t understand. You weren’t aware of the fear, the rage, the pain—didn’t hear the cries of the many people who look just like you.
You would walk along the white halls of your elementary school, and didn’t notice that there were only two black girls in your first grade class, including yourself. You would play with Barbie dolls when you got home, and didn’t wonder why there was only one black Barbie in the house, the rest being white. And it would be like that until fifth grade, until you noticed that you were the only black girl in class.
While your parents taught you about the color of your skin, that despite being mixed Asian, the world would see you differently, you still struggled to understand the history, the racism. Why would you be treated differently based on the color of your skin? Who would judge you before getting to know you?
And while you were bullied in second grade because little boys and girls were mean, middle school caught you by surprise. Suddenly, white “friends” would wonder why your smile is so wide, why your lips are so big. Your friend would continuously point out your big lips in front of the class, and the teacher had to tell you not to listen to her, to not believe her lies. But you went in front of the mirror anyway that day, and tried to suck in your lips to make them thinner. Most white girls have thinner lips, so you thought if you pulled them in, no one would point them out anymore.
You got older and began understanding American history. You got older and began learning about your ancestors, the slavery that brutally exists in your family. You got older and experience the judgments, the discrimination, even as simple as going to the mall or people saying that you should straighten your hair more rather than let your natural curls go. You got older and realized how society functions, how corrupt our justice system is, became aware of the constant war, a continuous fight, of the fear, the rage, the pain—the cries that could be heard from generation to generation.
Suddenly, that little girl that you once knew, who thought that freedom lies beyond the trees in your backyard, is gone. You soon realized that the world isn’t as innocent as you thought, and you’re also not as innocent with it.
But the kind and compassion you have, that drive and passion you consume, that empathy for others and the love you hope to share, is exactly what this world needs. Don’t lose sight of your gifts, your dreams, ambitions…your desire to reach for the stars and fall in love, to fall in love with yourself.
Change is coming.
I can feel it.
I can see it.
I can hear it.
You may not believe it, but there is still hope for this world. There is still hope for justice. There is still hope for equality.
To quote Beth from your favorite show This is Us, “We fight on.”
And we must fight on.