I have avoided posting about the horrific rape, by 18 or more boys and men, of an 11 year old girl in the small community of Cleveland, Texas.
As if the prolonged attack by–literally–a mob of males weren’t enough, the community’s response has been…Words fail me. Disgusting, repulsive, unbelievable? That and more. It’s a second and even more damaging violation of this child.
So when I read these beautiful, heartfelt words to her, in an open letter by journalist, black man and father, Nick Chiles, I cried. And I rejoiced.
Baby girl, let me describe to you what a real black man should look like, how he will feel.
He will not ever raise his hand to you—for he has been taught that an assault upon you is an assault upon his mother, his grandmother, his sisters, his aunts and all the nurturing souls who have unconditionally showered him with care.
He will not raise his voice to you—for he respects your mind as well as your body and he knows that bluster and intimidation are really just a camouflage for weakness.
He will listen to you and really hear you—for he will understand that your need to share your days and your thoughts are your way of connecting with him, bringing him into your mind space.
He will bring joy into your life—for he knows that your joy is the true key to his happiness, perhaps the most important thing he can achieve in his life.
He will tell you what you mean to him. To be able to peer into his own soul and reveal the contents is an unfailing sign of manly strength—and it also happens to be magic to a woman’s ears.
He will protect you but not disarm you. True protection is not smothering; it is providing you with the security to try and sometimes fail.
He will love you. And his love will feel like the most significant ingredient your spirit will ever encounter.
You may already know these things about a real black man; perhaps you have some around you or have come across them in your childhood. But I write this letter to you on the chance that this man I am describing, a real black man, has been a stranger to you. If he has yet to make his introduction, do not despair, baby girl. He is out here, watching over you, praying for you to emerge from these traumatic days with at least a small measure of dignity and self-assurance. He wants you to be able to work through your pain and confusion, then to look upon the community of black men that surrounds you and see his caring smile, his steadying hand, his strong shoulder. He is waiting to show you that he does exist, he does treasure you, he does want nothing but the best for you….
There are men out there who are working to help raise men, in the best possible meaning of the word.
Thank you, Mr Chiles.
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And to you, sweet innocent little girl, my prayers, my thoughts and my deepest hope that some of these words will stay with you, a beacon of hope and healing in your life.