Nick Chiles, an unbelievably talented writer and one of most committed fathers I know, was moved to write an open letter to the 11-year-old girl who was recently gang-raped in Texas. Excerpted below (and on the Today Show Moms blog), his words are so important for all to read and embrace. Parents, young women, young men, and anyone who is guiding the decisions or who's actions are visible to impressionable young people, this letter is not just for the victim, it is for you, too.
So please press through the I-don't-or-I-cant-read-about-this-tragedy mindset because this letter is not graphic. It's the level of inspiring and ferocious support that all of us should exhibit every day - in our actions.
I love Nick for writing this letter. I love Denene Millner (his wife) for creating her website My Brown Baby that meets these missions head on and with special care and purpose.
After the excerpt, I've also included the comment I left on Nick's post, as requested by Denene, who suggests we share our love with the young girl via the Little Girl Loved Facebook Group, and by following @littlegirlloved on Twitter and with the hashtag #littlegirlloved.
Excerpt of Nick Chiles' post:
What I must do is tell you about real black men. I want you to know these things because I have a son who is 7 years older than you, a nephew who is about your age, a nephew just a little younger, and they all have friends, many friends. In other words, I am surrounded by black boys. And if, in 15 or 20 years, one of them should come your way, I want you to know what a fine young man looks like, what he sounds like. I want you to have some familiarity with the proud young princes in our community, so that you might be able to wash off the unthinkable things that were done to you and one day find a measure of peace and happiness. Perhaps even with a young black man. That is my prayer for you......
Baby girl, let me describe to you what a real black man should look like, how he will feel.
He will not ever raise his hand to you—for he has been taught that an assault upon you is an assault upon his mother, his grandmother, his sisters, his aunts and all the nurturing souls who have unconditionally showered him with care.
He will not raise his voice to you—for he respects your mind as well as your body and he knows that bluster and intimidation are really just a camouflage for weakness.
He will listen to you and really hear you—for he will understand that your need to share your days and your thoughts are your way of connecting with him, bringing him into your mind space.
He will bring joy into your life—for he knows that your joy is the true key to his happiness, perhaps the most important thing he can achieve in his life.
He will tell you what you mean to him. To be able to peer into his own soul and reveal the contents is an unfailing sign of manly strength—and it also happens to be magic to a woman’s ears.
He will protect you but not disarm you. True protection is not smothering; it is providing you with the security to try and sometimes fail.
He will love you. And his love will feel like the most significant ingredient your spirit will ever encounter."
Read the full letter at My Brown Baby.
My comments on Nick Chiles' post:
Little Girl Loved, I send you all the healing prayers and well wishes I have. I know one day you will emerge from this haze of hateful blame to live powerfully in your life. Press on, young love, and persevere. Life may seem unbelievably ugly right now, but there are such beautiful things to experience on the other side. As Nick Chiles said, I cannot wait to sing along with your heart. Love, love, love to you.
I will save this letter and share with my daughter (now 4) when she is of age. The wonderful and important sentiments you wrote Nick are the type of support all young people need to hear, understand and embrace. Keep writing your lessons of love. You inspire me.
Background: For a searing report and perspective, please check out Akiba Solomon's Colorlines piece, "The Gang-Rape of a Latina 6th Grader, and a Horrific Community Response."
All images in this post are of my father, James M. Davis, with my daughter or myself. He taught me - by his actions more than anything else - the definition of a real black man. I am forever grateful.