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“DEAR LIZZIE”: AN OPEN LETTER TO MY WHITE HIGH SCHOOL CLASSMATE

Updated: Jul 28, 2021

Dear Lizzie:


As fellow Brooklynites who graduated from James Madison High School I can’t say that we had a real 'friendship' but as a classmate I have always known you to be a nice person. Unlike many of our White classmates who openly discriminated against me you have always treated me kindly and shown me respect.

These critical times of racial unrest is an unfortunate reminder that there is still much more to be desired in the form of allyship as we are struggling with two pandemics: COVID-19 and systemic racism. I was fortunate enough not to contract the former but tearfully I cannot say that for the latter as it relates to my own personal experiences dating back to our Marine Park Junior High School days, which was almost four decades ago.


I will try to be as concise as possible because when my heart is heavy it can prove to be a challenge so please bear with me. A while ago you shared that you have family and friends in law enforcement and you often worry about their safety. Rightfully so, because you have a personal relationship with them you would obviously feel a deeper connection to their plight and for that reason I humbly respect that. Your concern is reflected in your Facebook posts that give consistent praise for good cops and the thankless sacrifices they make to keep our communities and country safe. Some even express disgust for toxic opposition to our nation’s police which your friends (and I) generally concur with. With respect to some of your posts and that of many others that you friend or follow, they reflect a pattern that addresses the plight of those who protect and serve yet are absent to the pilot light that is fanning the flame of their adversity. I often hear posts saying “Stop blaming cops!” “What about the good cops?” “Why doesn’t Black Lives Matter care about Black-on-Black crime or Black abortions?” “What about the looters?” “What about the cops that died in the line of duty?” “Blue Lives Matter” “White Lives Matter” “All Lives Matter”, etc. etc.


I can empathize with your concern for your beloved simply because I am human and I take pride in fairness, especially on behalf of the innocent. As a Black man who has been stopped and frisked countless times as a teenager and subsequently convicted of a crime that I did not commit I can totally relate to any good officer that does not fit the profile of Derek Chauvin, Daniel Pantaleo, Justin Volpe, Francis Livoti, Mark Fuhrman…….to be continued. This list does not even count the ones who were fortunate enough not to make headlines. If we go back centuries the list is beyond infinity. At one time you posted that you wish that they would re-instate “stop and frisk” which a classmate and I debated online. So this is duly noted in every case, the police found nothing to justify my search nor any evidence to support my conviction, which I am still fighting to overturn to this day. Subsequently, with Black and Latino men being the primary targets of this policy in New York City, because 97% of searches were deemed unnecessary NYPD was sued for violating our constitutional rights, which forced the city to rescind the practice.


What I am bringing to your attention is a resounding cry that people of color have been making for decades, to no avail. Whatever “progress” that we did make did not come without a fight, even in the advent of the George Floyd killing or the eventual exoneration of the Central Park Five, all of whom had no forensic evidence to connect them to the rape of Trisha Meili. Critics argue that they confessed but ignore that their statements were made under coercive duress and were grossly inconsistent. Hence, if the state earnestly believed that they were all guilty why exonerate them and just throw away $43M in a civil settlement? Lizzie, does that really make sense? Is The Innocence Project just a non-profit scam that still exonerates thousands of innocent Black men who have sat in prisons for decades? As a woman I don’t know how you feel about the #METOO movement but for me it’s rather disingenuous to think that such a mass of victims can be telling the same lie. You know the saying: where there’s smoke there’s fire.


In the days of Noah there was flooding and the Bible warned that the next wave of destruction would be in fire. Regardless of what ignited the flame, once it spreads, whether you’re Black or White, Democrat or Republican, God-fearing or atheist, guilty or innocent the fire won’t discriminate and whoever is in it’s path is going to get burned. In modern day context as you see precincts and businesses engulfed in flames, your disgust with the vandals may be justified but unless you fight it from the base it will continue to spread. The good news for White America is that when the vandals are caught they are arrested and prosecuted without question, which lessens the need for outrage especially when you have insurance be it financially or judicially. Historically, due to systemic racism and police brutality that we still endure well after 400 years of our enslavement the playing field is still not the same for us.


With respect to the posts that you have made and those that you follow most of them are made by White people. Although there are Black people who are genuinely conservative and share your same views, what makes them genuine is their ability to maintain their political views and still respect the humanitarian needs of our race. I must warn you that most of them whose pages you follow such as Candace Owens and Brandon Tatum to name a couple, are buffooning for their own personal gain based on radical demands from the far right, and not for humanity as a whole. I say that because unlike activists who are true humanitarians whose followers represent the melting pot of the world, their followers are predominantly White conservatives. As a Black man I attest that no 21st century Black person will knowingly conduct a minstrel show at the behest of self-genocide unless there is a profit motive. Terrence K. Williams is another prime example, whose “comedy” pales in comparison to Chris Rock or Trevor Noah. The average entertainment venue will go bankrupt by booking him because most people will rather pay for a good laugh with CR or Trevor as opposed to laughing at TKW for free. Whatever folks are paying him for is worth less than the price of his integrity which is much more valuable to the devil. Hence, if those three will sell their own souls there is no telling what they will do with yours.


Unfortunately your posts only aim at the surface of the flame instead of at the base. In essence, they do not fully address who started the fire that is now burning around the globe. Speaking of such I hope that your niece, Taylor is doing well and I thank her for serving our country with pride. As a member of the armed forces she deserves that honor as a veteran. As a part of your family I see that you and your husband love her very dearly and I’m sure that she appreciates it. With respect to your husband and Taylor I reckon that color does not stand in the way of your love for both of them because they are both about the same complexion. Sadly, as an Italian-American he would have been denounced by White America during Jim Crow for his dark complexion. I am grateful that as a wife you had the courage to overlook that before you said ‘I do’ over two decades ago.


Though true love has no color, irrespective of how she defines herself ethnically, Taylor is a Black woman. Although I have never met, spoken to, or friended her, by honorary default Taylor is also my niece. As a protective uncle I put Breonna before her first name and say it aloud because even though you both share your Irish maiden name, Breonna will always come first. Like the Louisville EMT, she can also be assassinated without warning or reason simply for being Black. So, as much as you are an ally to police officers, God forbid if Taylor becomes the next tragic casualty of racial profiling would Aunt Lizzie openly demand justice with Uncle Sean and the rest of the world and become her ally? Would you also have enough courage to post it on Facebook with the same potency that you afford our members in blue?


Prayerfully, if the answer to those questions are in the affirmative, on behalf of Taylor and the safety of our beloved police officers who put their lives on the line in the aftermath of these tragedies, I sincerely implore you to start the process now. After Derek Chauvin brutally murdered George Floyd my wife and I wrote letters to the Minneapolis Police Chief demanding the arrest and prosecutions of all four of the officers involved in his death. Amidst our cries, protests, and media coverage our demands were granted much swifter than ordinary. We believe that instant accountability within the ranks can drastically mitigate the possibility of civil unrest which can subsequently result in injuries and deaths of front line officers, even when they do their jobs properly. Sadly, the police commissioners, union leaders, and other high ranking officials are behind the scenes as these casualties take place knowing they have the power to control the narrative that remotely affects their own well being. Knowing that absence of the aforesaid has historically fueled this same unrest, in order to cure your own anxiety I would also suggest that you do the same on behalf of your family and friends on the front line and hold them accountable for any wrongful treatment of people of color that they or their superiors allowed for decades. I understand that it is a major risk that may adversely affect your relationships with family and friends. My attitude is that anyone who is unwilling to stand with me for truth to benefit mankind isn’t much of a friend at all, even if they so happen to be family. A friend who is a real friend should also join you in the fight to save the world.


If you are willing to take the risk and need support, rest assured that you have a friend in me that will stand by your side by confronting these leaders along with you. As Americans that is what we should all be doing. Thank you dearly for listening and I look forward to hearing from you soon. God bless you and your family.



Love,


Sean


P.S.: Even though you blocked me after I inboxed you this draft, rest assured that I’m still here for you. Taylor aside, as long as you’re married with children we will always be family. #ENDRACISM #DEFUNDCHAUVINISM #DEFUNDPOLICEBRUTALITY #FREEDOMOFBREATH #CHAUVINISMISDEAD

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