Dear Black Men,

Despite what you see playing out before your eyes, despite the utter lack of compassion for your life or your humanity, despite the wanton death— relentless, unjustifiable murder— that looms over your head, you are precious and irreplaceable. You are human beings, full of strength and promise, life and hope, beauty and majesty. You are everything.

You comprise a lineage so mighty that in the face of insurmountable odds and enduring effort to suppress and oppress, you not only endure— you flourish. Your very existence is an act of rebellion so profound and impenetrable that it incites terror in the hearts of fragile men. After centuries of calculated attempts to extinguish your light, the only way to keep you down now is to kill you. You are that formidable.

You will never deserve the inhumane treatment the world is (and has been) foisting upon you. Your entirety can never be summed up by a “rap sheet,” nor will you be defined by your final moments. They don’t get to define you. You are not perfect— no one is— but you are as deserving of individuality, opportunity, and life as any one else. Your lives matter. Your deaths matter.

Please don’t let the fear and ignorance of others become a cage for you to beat your head against in rage or fear or defeat. I am scared for each and every one of you— not just my father who is grandfather to my children, brother, grandfather, uncles, cousins, friends, lovers— men and boys alike. I’m terrified of not the if, but the when of another of our brothers being taken from us too soon. My heart is heavy with weight of all the names of men gone too soon, TAKEN too soon.

I wish I knew how to make the world give you the respect you deserve, to see you as I do. I don’t know how to end this senseless depravity, but I do promise you this: I will love you. I will see you. I will celebrate you. I will exalt you. And I will never stop. Unconditionally, radically, and ceaselessly. Because you matter now and always will.

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