To The Man Behind The Video

by aheasley

Dear Feidin:

I had a bad morning, and when I say bad, I mean my three-year-old wouldn’t let me comb her hair, wouldn’t get dressed, and wouldn’t leave to go to preschool because we couldn’t find her beloved light-up shoes. She screamed. She sobbed. She pouted. She hit. Typical things toddlers of her age sometimes do when they’re frustrated, crave attention or don’t have the control they desire in any given situation.

On the drive back home after dropping her off at school, I cried. I didn’t handle the situation well and felt guilty for allowing the sweet relief of having left my daughter in somebody else’s care for a little while wash over me. Despite its truth, this admission is easy. It requires no bravery on my part. It does not make me one shred of a hero. Publicly admitting I screwed up as a parent isn’t likely to have a life-altering impact on my life or anybody else’s.

This is as good a time as any to segue to you, and what your actions mean for not just me and my daughter, but the world. My husband and I made the conscious decision to adopt a black daughter. We took and take great pride in the decision we made. We couldn’t be more blessed as parents. Yet our decision doesn’t come without worries, perhaps the biggest of which is how to one day explain to our daughter the daily injustices faced by people of her race, especially when we, her white parents, can’t identify with those injustices.

I realize and respect that you’re uncomfortable being a called a hero because you said “there are no winners in the situation,” and yes, you are right. What you witnessed has led to great heartache and anger. It will go on fueling outrage and causing people senseless pain.

But I believe what you alone recorded and came forth with will also lead to critical change. That terrible footage from your cell phone has put the movement that black lives matter—that my daughter’s life matters—in searing black and white.

If courage is defined as the ability to do something you know is difficult or dangerous, you are, without a doubt, the very definition of the word.

Wishing you, your family and the Charleston community peace,