Keep standing up for what is right. Keep kneeling against that which is wrong.

09/29/2017 08:17 pm ET Updated Oct 09, 2017

Dear Sons,

You have an amazing intricate heritage that links you to various parts of the world. You are handsome intelligent young men, trying to find your place in an environment wherein race-baiting individuals would like you to believe that you are worth less than your white counterparts. In the midst of juggling work, high school and college, and interpersonal relationships, you are navigating your reality as young men of color.

You both have a deep understanding of diversity. You are sons to a Mexican-American and African-American woman. You inherited natural attentiveness to social justice issues, you have developed concern for the homeless, developed an understanding of disenfranchised populations, engendered care for the LGBTQIA community, and the list goes on. I am so proud of you both.

Even though you have never been rich, you have enjoyed aspects of a privileged life. You have lived in well-to-do neighborhoods. You have attended highly rated high schools and performed in award winning marching bands. However, you have also witnessed racist attitudes towards students who come from working class families, towards students of color and you have been subject to teachers who have openly expressed derogatory attitudes towards people of color.

While in the confines of our home, you have learned that each life is valuable, even if the person does not look like you, believe in the same religion or support the same political agenda. But outside of our doors, you have heard friends and extended family members claim that all Muslims should be killed before they kill us, that the poor brought their circumstances upon themselves, that a wall needs building, and that the increase of overt patriotism - a more divisive form of patriotism - is the only way to be an American. But you know better. You have spoken out against these sentiments even though you knew the consequences may be grave.

The negativity that surrounds you does not deter you. In this socio-political environment, you continue to plow on, even while you hear derogatory remarks and stereotypes fly, often with teachers and students exhibiting complete disregard for those who are present. You have often stood up for others using your voice and your body with it ultimately taking a toll on your spirit.

You rarely had to stand up on behalf of yourselves. What you realized early on is that the part of you that is not Mexican-American or African-American-that part of you that is European-is your privilege. You are aesthetically white and that encourages (some) people to treat you better. It allows them to say and do things in front of you that they would not otherwise do. However, you do not hide behind your multi-ethnic identity. You both used it to your advantage to stand up for people who have been ‘othered’ and to speak for those who have been discriminated against in your presence. You are aesthetically white, and unfortunately, that is your veil of protection. In a complicated way, your ambiguous identity has made you understand your privilege.

Keep standing up for what is right. Keep kneeling against that which is wrong. Let your white privilege be your entry into a conversation that your existence as men of color may not have allowed.



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