Remember that hot and humid day when we were walking back from the Capitol downtown Lansing? We had just completed a tour of the grand place and you said “Wow that was so cool!” Our hands interlock and we head back to my job where you’ve gotten the chance to hang out with me for the day for Bring Your Child to Work. Of course you aren’t my child, but as your older sister I look at you as such. As we walk down the street we approach two white police officers and a black woman. I say “I wonder what’s going on over there?” And you reply “Those cops look annoyed.” I think to myself, yes they do. As I am thinking this you suddenly say “I’m going to pray for her!” I proceed to ask you why and you simply say “Because they may hurt her!” I begin to cry inside. I don’t let the tears fall because I don’t want to startle you little sister. But as we continue walking I start to think: How can I protect my baby? My baby sister, with her beautiful caramel skin and light brown curly hair. Her features are immaculate. But in a world that sees nothing but color, you’re just another little black girl – a nigga.
At the tender age of 11 years old, how do I explain to you that it’s okay, you don’t have to pray for that lady because the police won’t hurt her. I can’t explain that to you. Tamir Rice was only 12 years old when the police killed him, just a year older than you baby sis. You watch the news, you see the horror and I can’t stop you. When a police car gets behind me, I see you tense up. Baby sis, let me explain that as your older sister, I will never let anyone harm you. I will always protect you, forever. But I have to explain to you that as a black woman in America, we are not safe. Our black men, the ones that we expect to protect us, they are being killed off one by one. Hundreds of years of abuse, rape, disrespect, oppression – at the hands of white men. As a black woman in America, it is important for you to break through the very barriers that are put into place to hold you back. Be all that you can be and know that we are living in a world that sees the color of your skin before your actual beauty. I ask God, “How can I protect my baby sister from the heinous crimes of this world? Help me God!” I teach you to be an honest young woman, with dignity and self-respect. But I know that in this cold world that see only black and white, that is not enough for a young black girl. You’re so beautiful! So ambitious already, I see your potential baby sis. I want to hold you and tell you “Don’t be afraid.” But I can’t, because I too am terrified daily. I don’t know that if I make the wrong move during a traffic stop then it’ll be me next, killed off by another white cop. The same cop that was sworn in to protect and serve. But I can promise you one thing: I promise to be strong for you, for us. I promise to protect you. I promise to continue uplifting you and teaching you how to be a beautiful black woman. I love you.
Your Big Sister
Brittany P. Edwards (Facebook: Brittany Patrice)