For My Nephew – You Were Born in Interesting Times

Posted: November 28, 2016 by Sam in Editorial
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Indy,

Yes, Harrison, that name will be sticking around and by the time you’re old enough to read this, I assume I’ll have called you it enough times that it won’t be weird or embarrassing. But who cares what other people think, right? Right? Right.15179008_10207740993223781_4279690723091371069_n

Oh, baby boy, you’re only four days old as I’m writing this and I honestly don’t know how the next fours years of your life are going to be. I thought I’d be proud that you would only know a black man and white woman as the President of the United States for the first few years of your life. Now, whenever you look at those God-awful history books they’ll likely try to alter, you’re going to see the face of a neon cheeto smiling smugly at you like he owns the world. He doesn’t, sweetie. He just thinks he does. Trust me when I say, I will and have spent those four years pushing back in every way I can because you deserve better than what this country gave you. You deserve enlightenment, harmony, and peace of mind. You deserve an education. You deserve the freedom to express yourself. You deserve love, sympathy, and empathy in abundance. You deserve the simple basics of humanity. But you have to give it back as well.

You’re white, sweetheart. Shocker, I know. You’re white and you’re a boy/teen/man/gender fluid/undefined (whenever you’re reading this, pick the one that applies), which means you’re still going to have more chances to succeed than your friends in school who are of a different race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or creed. It may not seem like it, but the system you were born into currently favors you above anyone else. People much smarter and braver than your Auntie Sammy are trying to fix that, but progress is always slow so I can’t rightly say this paragraph will be irrelevant by the time you’re reading and comprehension lessons start. I like to err on the side of caution and assume the worst. By now you probably know that and find it to be an endearing quality. Don’t roll your eyes…unless it’s something your grandfather said, then roll away!

The point is you’re going to have a lot more privileges by virtue of the sex and race you were born compared to others. This means you’re obligated to do the following things:

  1. Listen
  2. Learn
  3. Experience
  4. Elevate

First, listen to voices that aren’t your own. Talk to people who aren’t like you. There is so much more to be gained when you offer a sympathetic ear. We’re social creatures, humans, and we’re more inclined to talk and share our experiences, our knowledge, and our wisdom. Trust me, sweetie, I’ve learned more by listening to people on my podcast (which I’m sure is hugely successful!) than any previous endeavor or project. My music, reading lists, movies and television preferences have all been influenced or altered because of the people I’ve talked to and I intend to keep expanding those horizons because it’s the only way to grow.alana-02

Secondly, I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to educate yourself. Teachers and school administrations have their own agendas, their own quotas to meet, and that can sour you towards the institutions of higher learning, but believe me when I say that the greatest investment of your time will be in developing your mind. And I’m not just talking about reading a lot of books (we’ll get to that), I’m talking about engaging with the written word; questioning everything and critically thinking your way through the loftier questions. You may not always find the answers you were looking for, but getting there is half of the adventure. The other half is writing a dissertation, but we’re not there yet so we’ll put that on the backburner for now.

Above all else, though, you need to read about the world outside of yourself. It’s easy to retreat and find everything and everyone that’s like you, but it’s important to read about people who aren’t like you, places you’re never been, and things that are completely foreign to you. Read every genre of fiction, non-fiction, plays, and poetry. Read the classics, essays, comic books, and biographies. Read the dictionary. Seriously, read the dictionary. And get a thesaurus. The more words you have available to you the better. Like I said about listening, learning and self-education will do wonders for your ability to understand and empathize with others. It also gives you the confidence and wherewithal to engage others with whom you disagree. Words are powerful weapons, my dear, and I intend to make sure you’re suitably armed.

Thirdly, experience the world. Reading – and probably video games – will only get you so far, my love. The rest is gained by stepping outside your door. Go to the theater, museums, arts and music festivals. Do extra-curricular activities like drama, debate, and one of those sports-ball things. Play an instrument. If you’re anything like the rest of our family you may give up after a year or so, but at least you can say you tried. Eat foods you’ve never eaten before, but don’t rush it since it may take a while before you’re beyond the peanut butter and jelly sandwich only phase. Go hiking, rock climbing, fossil hunting, anything your heart desires as long as it brings you closer to appreciating what you have and what the world has to offer. The more you engage, the more you’ll care about keeping this ball of rock, water, and gas spinning.

Lastly, and most importantly, use your education, your experiences, and your empathy to elevate those who struggle to make their voices heard. Be an ally by giving everyone a chance to contribute and speak up for those who are being drowned out by the din of ignorance. That’s where you can do the most good. And don’t expect a thank you for it. No one is going to throw you a parade (maybe your mom and grandmother) for being decent. Just do what needs to be done because it’s the right thing to do. hyperbole

I know it’s a lot to take in, sweetie. It seems unfair and overwhelming that this burden is being placed on you, but worry not because you come from good stock. Your parents, grandparents, and I are resilient and I firmly believe you will be/are too.

And with that, I leave you with some simple truths that should carry you through the dark and the good times:

  • You are and will always be loved.
  • It’s okay to cry and be sad sometimes and you can always talk to me when you’re feeling blue.
  • Hamilton and Les Misérables are the greatest musicals of all time. Period. Don’t fight me on this.
  • Apples and peanut butter are the best combo snack ever.
  • Grades are important, but not so important that you drive yourself crazy.
  • Han shot first.
  • Sometimes the movie is better than the book. It’s rare, but it happens.
  • The Simpsons was the greatest cartoon of all time until Season 14.
  • Always be yourself. Unless you can be Batman. Then always be Batman.

 

Love,

Auntie Sammy

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s