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For My Children

Student

Your mother was raised to respond to “Black Lives Matter” with the phrase “All lives matter.” She was raised to turn her head the other way when Black people were mistreated, because good white girls don’t concern themselves with that sort of thing. She was told that instances of police brutality were usually provoked; it was the Black man’s fault that he was slowly being strangled to death.

And your mother believed all those lies.

Until 2020. Until George Floyd.

She was twenty years old, the same age as her grandmother during the Civil Rights Movement. But unlike her grandma, she began to change her mind. For the first time, she actually listened when someone told her that she benefitted from systems of oppression. She sympathized with Black students who shared their experience with racism at her college. She resolved to keep fighting, even when #BlackLivesMatter stopped trending on Twitter.

Then again, she was only twenty. She was so confused about so many things. Was violence okay? Were white people solely responsible for bringing an end to racism in this country? How, exactly, could a poor, white, female mathematician support the second Civil Rights Movement?

My children, when you ask me someday what I did in 2020, this is what I will show you. Your mother was not some angel at the frontlines of the protests. But she refused to turn a blind eye to the unjust system that she benefitted from. She was confused, but she was resolved. She was open to changing her mind, to listening to others even when it was frustrating. And she was heartbroken that she had waited so long before lending her voice to ending the suffering.

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