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Dear Kids: The first thing to remember is how to protect yourself

Friends, I am absolutely distraught by the events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, VA. It is quite sad because it’s a beautiful city with a prestigious university, amazing people like whom I read and follow, and it holds so much beauty and charm. Hence, you can imagine the pain, anger and hurt I felt when an innocent woman lost her life while standing up against Nazis, hatred, white supremacist and bigotry. I wept uncontrollably because she was fighting for someone like me. She was fighting for mine and your born and unborn children. She was fighting for our forefathers who stood up against injustice – fighting to uphold their legacy. She was fighting for those who look nothing like us, those who identify with a different religion, sex, race, ethnicity and background. She was fighting for all of us. She was fighting for freedom.

When I moved to this country 12 years ago, I was excited about this country where freedom was a real and lasting value or so I thought. When we elected a black president, I cried because to me, it meant that my sons and daughters can finally aspire to something greater because they can see it for themselves. As a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, I saw my fellow African brothers and sisters excited about their professional careers, re-invigorated by the American dream that one can achieve whatever one sets his/her mind on. That there are no limitations to our dreams and aspirations. Shortly after that, like a rabid fire, the nation descended into chaos with the death of Trayvon Martin, and then Eric Garner, and Ferguson, MI became synonymous with terror. We traded our mission of progress in science and technology with black lives matter because to become those things, first we must survive. Survival, friends became our moda operandi. Our country is still in survival mode.

So, when my daughter gets back from her long summer vacation, I plan to prepare for her for situations that may call for her to stand up for justice. There are plenty of reasons why. First, we live in a neighborhood where although we feel safe and secure, it’s sad to say that our middle school have had its bout of racism. Students have been known to wear KKK hats and publicly use racial slurs on minority students. Luckily she is still in elementary school, and we are hoping that the school is doing something to ensure the safety of all students. Let me tell you, it is the hardest thing for any parent to experience – knowing that there is no magic wand to wish this evil away. So, here I am helping my daughter understand the inequality in our society. That she will be judged by the color of her skin and the texture of her hair. That her IQ of 140, her giftedness, her love for fair play, piano, soccer, dance and girl scout are secondary. That unfortunately, there are people in this country (a lot of them) who doesn’t care about her sweet, innocent, and loving character that puts her friends first, cares about the wellbeing of her teachers, and looks forward to school as soon as she walks through the door. I am going to tell my daughter to remember to protect herself first before standing for racial justice. I am going to cry at the birth of my future sons and daughters because I know that I will have to explain this injustice to them. That some people believe themselves to be superior because of the color of their skin. That life is not fair, and that they also need to protect themselves even when momma is watching. That this country that we have given our sweat and blood stands to take everything away from us in the twinkle of an eye.

But I also will teach them something important. That love conquers everything, no matter how tall, big or large. That the fate of our future, our country does not lie with Nazis, racist, or bigots. That the fate of our country, lies with people who love, who sacrifice for the common good. That our future is where our neighbors watch out for us, and our classmates loves us despite our color or accents. That we belong no matter who we are or where we are. That our contributions to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics matters. That we will not run, hide, or shy away from our desire and commitment to achieve beyond our imagination and contribute to the greater good of this country.

Friends, I hope you know how much I love this country and how much I pray for its soul. That the cankerworms be uprooted, that love spread amongst our brothers and sisters who fail to comprehend their dangerous ways.

How are you dealing with these events. Are your children aware of what’s happening around them? How are you helping them understand and deal with racism?

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