Between the Pandemic and the Police
An open letter to my Black child...
This is why silence cannot be an option. There is no neutral ground when it comes to racism. There should only be anti-racism.
Those of you who are in positions of power and/or authority—your silence will be seen as complicity. Your silence will be felt as a failure to speak up for those of us who are perceived as voiceless.
Our Black fears are factual, just as our love for this country is real. America is not coming undone, or unhinged.
America has become unfiltered. America has taken off her mask and is speaking the ugly truth that we all knew existed—not only behind closed doors, but also in board rooms, classrooms, emergency rooms, courtrooms and in living rooms. Systemic racism is rampant and deadly.
An open letter to my Black Child:
I am sorry Kennedy.
I apologize to you for perpetuating a false narrative that if we do everything right, if we study and work hard, if we are good to others, that our world will be okay.
But the reality is:
Gianna Floyd’s world is not okay.
Sybrina Fulton’s world is not okay.
Samaria Rice’s world is not okay.
Geneva Reed-Veal’s world is not okay.
Michael Brown Sr.’s world is not okay.
Esaw Garner’s world is not okay.
Sheneen McClain’s world is not okay.
Kenneth Walker’s world is not okay.
I apologize to you, Kennedy, for not correcting the world’s lies. Instead, drilling into you that you have to always be your best—no room for anything less—without fully explaining to you why.
It was my way of protecting you, hoping that you will never be a target because of the skin that you are in.
I am so sorry for not teaching you more effective ways to navigate around the microaggressions, instead always telling you to simply distance yourself. I know firsthand that it’s just too much to take on.
It was my attempt to prevent them from labeling you as angry, oppositional or defiant.
As a child, those were also my lessons to be learned.
But now that we know better…together we will do better.
The world is now being forced to watch! I pray that legislators will be listening and change will come. We will no longer allow our beautiful Black skin to be weaponized against us, whether in school, at work or in the media.
We will no longer sit silent, flustered or frustrated when we are wronged, whether by privilege or provocation.
We will document and seek corrective action each and every time. We will continue to do our best, but only to achieve our goals. No longer with the sole focus or aim of dismantling ignorance and hatred.
Being Black is not a burden to bear. Slavery is not our sin for which to atone. Racism is not our shame or blame.
I am not asking for inclusion for my Black child. I am demanding that the systemic roadblocks and hate-based detours be dismantled. That they not be utilized by those in power and/or position against my Black child as she wanders, navigates, and trailblazes through the world.
She is meant to connect her brilliance, blessings and beauty with others and life’s extraordinary experiences.
We are saying Our Black Lives Matter. It is a call waiting for humanity’s response
Camille Watkin is a Black mother, Black daughter, Black wife, Black sister, Black friend, Black Change Agent, Black woman. #Blacklivesmatter
Arlington Magazine’s Race & Equity essay series is a community voices project, and all perspectives are welcome. To submit, send a 400-500 word essay or a 3-4 minute spoken-word video, plus a photo of yourself, to editorial@