June 11, 2020

To my future self (in 2024),

I know that things right now are pretty grim. Police brutality and other forms of systemic racism continue to harm people of color in the classrooms, on the streets, in stores, in their own homes, and the list goes on. And you’re probably wondering to yourself: when will it end? 

And yet, this also feels like a turning point. It feels like everyone around you is finally joining in to mourn the loss of black life that so deeply affects you. As the sky pays its cloudy respects and the wind blows streams of melancholy through the air, you start to believe that even the earth understands your pain. 

Some days you feel extremely motivated, passionate about making a difference. You sign a bunch of petitions and share them with loved ones. You read pages and pages of work created by your black ancestors, detailing the injustices that have plagued our country for over 400 years. 

These days you’re on top of the world. You understand the gift of youth that you have been given and the power of time to heal this country’s wounds. You yearn to share your gift of youth with your loved ones who have endured much more than they should have, with the mothers and fathers of those who have lost their children too young, to those themselves who have died, praying and pleading that someway you could bring them back. 

And then you realize that signed names on a page or donations to a cause can’t bring them back. No matter how many this isn’t fairs or this never should have happeneds or even defund the polices you yell into the universe, the only thing that comes back is the echo of your cries. These are the other days. The ones where you feel like you’re drowning in a pool of your own hopelessness. Can feel each wave pass over you as these feelings of despair attempt to swallow you whole. You cannot look at another generic black lives matter post. You cannot look at the celebrities you’ve watched steal from your culture and your people, brag about the donations they’ve made to the cause.

You look around you. You question everything and you’re not really sure what it is that can be done. These are the days that tears run down your cheeks, hoping to escape the heavy weights that lay in your eyes, in your heart, and in your mind. 

I want you to know that both days are okay. They will happen and unfortunately, like time, they are something you cannot control. But I want you to never give up. To never stop fighting. I want you to speak your mind around people who make ignorant comments, I want you to self-advocate in the classroom and I want you to do everything you can to push back against people who try and make you feel small.

I know that you wrote another letter that you would so much rather be published. I know you poured your heart and soul into that one and it hurts to look back and wonder why that’s not the one you chose. It was honest and raw and you just want to say screw this and show the world some of the pain you’ve been feeling. I want you to know that you made the right decision in this moment. I want you to know that you are not keeping it because of them but you are keeping it for you. I hope that someday it is the right time to publish the other version.

I hope that by the time you re-read this that things are different. For the world, for people of color, for whatever school you choose to attend. For you. I hope that when you look back on who you were in this moment you can feel proud. I also hope that you grow to be so much more from this because your potential is limitless. 

Some changes I hope were made by the time you next read this. I hope that there are more girls, especially girls of color, in advanced STEM classes. I hope that there is more of a uniform process for getting recommendations for these classes and that this new process ensures the equal and fair treatment of girls. I hope that you have more advocates in the classroom, especially in humanities classes where there can be some difficult conversations. Whether that be your peers or your teachers, I hope that they understand the danger of silence. I hope that eurocentric beauty standards stop being put on a pedestal and that people really start to understand that black is beautiful. But I most of all hope that the experience for black girls in private school improves. That they are not subjected to the damaging prejudiced beliefs of some of their peers, that they are not forced by their teachers to grow up too fast and that they can continue to transform into the queens that they are.

Wishing you nothing but the best and hoping that things are better than they are now.

Much love,

Sophie Thomas

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