An Open Letter to My Daughter | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

An Open Letter to My Daughter

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Leslie McLemore II

Dear Harper,

Firstly, Daddy loves you beyond the end of time. I am and will always support you, for you are my greatest creation and inspiration, and because of you, I have a reason to live and a purpose to live for.

Secondly, this is a letter to you, an open letter that I felt compelled to share. As you read this some day, I'm sure you are asking "But, why Dad?" Well, I hope to do my best in answering the "why," Harp-Star.

Hopefully, you will grow up to be a super-duper intelligent, beautiful, charming and loving woman. As your father, the "woman" part is what I unfortunately worry about the most. In this country exist discrimination and inequality. This means that not everyone is equal in the eyes of the law or society, so you, as a woman, will be treated unequal in comparison to your male counterparts.

This is what society refers to as "male privilege." As a male, your father has benefited from this privilege time after time. Regrettably, at one point in my life, I didn't even acknowledge male privilege nor bother to care that such privilege actually existed. So, to you, your mother, and your grandmother, I sincerely apologize.

Most males in this country barely acknowledge such privileges, subconsciously and consciously, allowing male chauvinism to be passed from generation to generation. Disturbingly, as of 2015 women are without equal pay, full reproduction rights or social equality. Women also suffer from sex discrimination in almost every social or workplace setting, along with being victims of sexual assault and domestic violence at a disturbingly high rate. (God forbid if this ever happens to you. Your Dad will turn into Samuel L. Jackson's character from "A Time to Kill." Read the book, then watch the movie, and you'll get the picture).

Now, here is where it gets a little tricky, my love. Your mother and I are African American, therefore making you (you guessed it!) African American. Unfortunately, in this country, African Americans also suffer massive inequality and discrimination. Inequality and discrimination so vast, I would need to turn this letter into a book.

So, just like your mother suffering from male privilege, we both suffer from white privilege. However, unlike your mother, I only have to deal with one of these privileges. Sadly, your Mother, as an African American woman, suffers from both white and male privilege. This means, like every African American woman in this country, you will be standing at the intersection of white and male privilege. As a result, you will face discrimination and inequality as both a woman and an African American.

The thought of my pride and joy being discriminated against from multiple avenues angers and saddens me to no end. However, there are ways to fix such a problem.

For starters, there needs to be a universal acknowledgement, through awareness, of systematic discrimination in this country. In order to obtain national acknowledgement, awareness is being raised of discriminatory practices that plague African American women in this country. People are attempting to achieve universal awareness (even though more participation is needed) via traditional media, social media, academia, grassroots activities and simple word of mouth. Secondly, discriminatory practices are and must continue to be challenged in the legal, policy, judiciary, corporate and executive arenas. Victory in such arenas must be achieved through political participation (President Harper McLemore sounds awesome, right?), litigation and good ole zeal. In relation to these two arenas, especially the latter, there is still much work to be done.

As you continue to grow into the great woman I know you will become, be aware of such roadblocks you will inevitably face. Learn (with assistance from your father, of course) how to fight against these roadblocks for you and countless women you will never meet. The good news is that many individuals are working tirelessly to make sure you don't face such roadblocks, or at the very least, ensure that these roadblocks will be less of a burden.

I hope this letter finds you well, my one and only. Remember, Daddy loves you and will love you beyond the end of time.

Sincerely,

Your Awesomely Loving Father

Leslie McLemore II, a Jackson native, is now in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Jackson State University, North Carolina Central University School of Law and American University Washington College of Law. Harper McLemore was born July 31.

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