Dear Harper and Harlow,
Firstly, Daddy loves you beyond the end of time. I am and will always support both of you, for you two are my greatest creation and inspiration, and because of this, I have a reason to live and a purpose to live for.
OK, now we got that sentimental shit out the way, let’s address the reason why I felt compelled to share this letter to you. Well, because, as you read this some day, I’m sure one or both of you will ask, “You doing this for clout,” or “Who tf do you think you are, Barack Obama?” Maybe, but that’s neither here nor there. However, I must admit that I’m sharing this letter because I worry. Not that you two will not go on to do amazing things in life, because you will, but that this world will try to hinder you from accomplishing those amazing things through systemic racism and sexism that are embedded in the American society you two will be raised in.
I am fully confident that both of you will grow up to be a super-duper intelligent, beautiful, charming and loving women. As your father, the “women” part is what I unfortunately worry about the most. In this country exist discrimination and inequality. This means that not everyone is equal in the eyes of the law or society, so you, as women, will not be treated with the same fairness compared to your male counterparts.
This is what society refers to as “male privilege.” As a male, your father has benefited from this privilege time after time. Regrettably, at one point in my life, I didn’t even acknowledge male privilege nor bother to care that such privilege actually existed. And because of this glaring ignorance that for a long time I actively chose to ignore instead of correct, I sincerely apologize.
Most males in this country barely acknowledge such privileges, subconsciously and consciously, allowing male chauvinism to be passed from generation to generation. Disturbingly, as of 2019 women (ESPECIALLY black women, but I’m getting to that, soon) are without equal pay, full reproduction rights or social equality. Women also suffer from gender and sex discrimination in almost every social or workplace setting, along with being victims of sexual assault and domestic violence at a disturbingly high rate. (God forbid if this ever happens to you. Y’all Dad will turn into Samuel L. Jackson’s character from “A Time to Kill.” Read the book, then watch the movie. I expect a full 800 word report by tomorrow, COB).
Now, here is where it gets a little tricky, Harper and Harlow. Your mother and I are African American, therefore making you (you guessed it!) African American. Unfortunately, in this country, African Americans also suffer massive inequality and discrimination. Inequality and discrimination so vast, I would need to turn this letter into a book (Which I may, one day).
So, just like your mother suffering from male privilege, we both suffer from white privilege. However, unlike your mother, I only have to deal with one of these privileges. Sadly, your Mother, as an African American woman, suffers from both white and male privilege. This means, like every African American woman in this country, you two will be standing at the intersection of white and male privilege. As a result, you will face discrimination and inequality as both a woman and an African American.
The thought of my pride and joys being discriminated against from multiple avenues of racism and sexism angers and saddens me to no end. However, there are ways to tackle such a problem.
For starters, there needs to be a universal acknowledgement, through awareness, of systematic discrimination in this country. In order to obtain national acknowledgement, awareness is being raised of discriminatory practices that plague African American women in this country. Everything from the lack of health care resources (both physical and mental) to lack of pay to domestic violence, black women are attempting AND succeeding in achieving universal awareness (even though more participation from men is needed) via traditional media, social media, academia, grassroots activities and simple word of mouth. Secondly, discriminatory practices are and must continue to be challenged in the legal, policy, judiciary, corporate and executive arenas. Victory in such arenas must be achieved through political participation (President Harper McLemore and Secretary of State Harlow McLemore sounds dope, right?), litigation and good ole zeal. In relation to these two arenas, especially the latter, there is still much work to be done.
As both of you continue to grow into awesome black girls then to the great woman I know you will become, be aware of such roadblocks you will inevitably face. Learn from the experiences of your mother and grandmothers how to fight against these roadblocks for you and countless black women you two will never meet. The good news is that many individuals are working tirelessly to make sure you two don’t face such roadblocks, or at the very least, ensure that these roadblocks will be less of a burden.
I hope this letter finds both of both of you well, my two and only. Remember, Daddy loves you and will love you beyond the end of time. And also remember never to take shit from a MF who can’t read a paragraph out loud.
Your Awesomely Loving, Dope Ass Father
Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance.
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