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A Letter to My Son After Charlottesville

A Letter to My Son After Charlottesville

I think a lot about the messages we send to our daughters and the role models we want to be for them.

But I also see the angry white men in the horrifying pictures of Charlottesville this past weekend, and it makes me think of the messages that are being sent to my son, and the way some men act. And how this is their version of strong masculinity.

My message to my son: this isn’t you.

Please recognize that you are a white male by accident of birth. You were born into prosperity, in this country at this time, by accident of birth. You have parents who support you — emotionally and financially — by accident of birth.

That doesn't mean you don't work hard — you do. And I’m incredibly proud of you. But you've also had a (big) leg up on others. And that leg up means you have a special obligation to others.

I want you to afford to others, as much you are able, the same benefit of the doubt that you are given because of what you happen to look like. I hope that you don’t begrudge others their success, as though it takes away from your own. I hope that you will march for others' rights, not just your own, as so many men did this past winter. And I hope that you will celebrate women's successes too. (Believe me, when you have a daughter and see the inequities, you’ll get why this matters.)

I hope you know that others being successful can mean good things for us all; it doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game.

Because — despite what you may read in memos out of Silicon Valley, see on Twitter, hear on cable news — there are very realbenefits to diversity. The research backs this up unequivocally. Diversity makes us more creative and innovative. It even makes our businesses perform better.

But this isn’t only about you at the end of the day...or the scores of angry men — and angry women — in the streets of Charlottesville, marching in support of white supremacy. There was also silence that spoke volumes.

This is about all of us. And how we should be making space for more of us, whomever that may be. This is about following Heather Heyer’s lead. This is about using our power to shape the next generation and to shift the points of view of the current generation (or at least some of them) as much as we can.

Doing this is good for all of us.


This piece was originally published in the Ellevest newsletter, What The Elle.

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