Letter to Camille: 127 Months

Hello sweet girl and Happy 127 months to you! Ah, this month. This month has been a bit of a soul-searcher.

Some months are light. Some are busy. Some are full of travel and others of work.

But this month – it has felt a bit heavier than some. A bit deeper of purpose.

Your 127th month began with the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

I’m having a hard time with that. Your father and I try not to burden you with politics, but we do feel it’s important for you to know the basics of government, why it’s important to be involved, to vote and to speak up. I want you to understand how the decisions made in our state and national capitols can trickle down and affect your way of life, your friends and neighbors, and people who aren’t anything like you.

We’ve talked a lot this month about religious tolerance, about embracing strangers, about celebrating diversity. We’ve talked about the poisonous effect of fear, and that we’d rather be people of love. We’ve talked about the insulating, protectionist policy of “better safe than sorry,” and how that doesn’t work for us when it means good people are hurt, ignored or cast aside. We’ve reminded you that you’re a citizen of the world, not a paranoid member of an isolated kingdom surrounded by moats and booby traps.

And so it was in this spirit – a spirit of activism – that I took you to visit Savannah’s Civil Rights Museum this month. I visited this museum before you were born, and was moved by it. I always knew I wanted to take you here someday, but I also knew it would be hard. It’s a painful history, and the hurt continues even now. I wasn’t sure when you’d be ready. Or when I’d be ready to share it with you.

But as I felt my country slipping backwards, losing ground to intolerance and prejudice, I knew it was time. We needed to talk about racism, a starting point to a conversation about marginalization of every kind.

And so we went. We visited the lunch counter and learned about the protests in Savannah during the civil rights movement. We talked about voting rights. We looked at the jar of marbles and tried to guess how many were inside – the ridiculous “test” given to black would-be voters to keep them from exercising their right. You stopped in your tracks when you headed for the bathroom – one was marked “white only,” and the other for “colored only.” And you had to choose. It wasn’t right and you knew it in your bones.

You spent a long time looking at the white hood and robe of the KKK, and a partially burned cross. You had a lot of questions, and I didn’t have satisfactory answers because there are none. It was a lot to take in, and I don’t think it will be our last visit. It certainly won’t be the last time we talk about what we learned.

Sometimes I look at what is happening in my country and feel despair. And then I look at you. I look at our friends, at all the people around me who are having these same conversations with their spouses and partners and kids, and working to raise the next generation of peace-building people. And then I have hope because the story is still being written. The future is still being built, and I feel better knowing you are one of the architects. I’m not counting on you to run for President one day. I’m not even counting on you to be very political if that’s not who you are. You don’t have to do something earth-shaking – I’m just counting on you to care about people, all kinds of people, and to demonstrate that care when you can.

There were plenty of perfectly normal things that happened this month – even joyous things – and they’re all important too. And so I’ll leave you with some pictures of the happiness of this month, because these moments are part of your story, too. And thankfully, part of mine.

Thank you for making my world so much brighter, just by being you. I love you so much.