Dear Lil Mama:

Just a few days ago you may have heard that 20 first graders were shot and killed by a young man your age or a little older. There are moms and dads who will never see their little ones alive again. Ever. And that is an absolute tragedy. A child is the greatest gift that can be given and you have one, that I could visibly see. I have no children of my own, but I lost a few in the past. I can somewhat relate to how those parents may be feeling, but you my love have a son, one you can see and hold; a son who you do not seem to treat kindly at all.

I am your neighbor who lives in the middle of the block. I don’t think that you have ever seen me, but I have seen you and your little son. He looks to be a little younger than the children killed at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. I am writing you this letter because I am concerned for you and your son. Today I looked out onto the street and I first saw you walking ahead of your son who had a backpack that was 2/3 his size and he was crying. I imagine that he was crying because you were not carrying him or holding him.

What alarmed me my love is what you said to this little child. You said, “Hurry yo stupid a… up! Look at you lookin’ just like yo sorry a.. daddy! Hurry up damnit!” And you said this while you were on the phone and cars rolled by. Your son at any time could have darted into the street, but fortunately that did not happen.

You are the first example of womanhood that your son will know. All women for the rest of his life will be measured or compared to you. The health of the relationship that you and your son will have can influence the relationships that he will have with other females. At this rate, your son is likely to develop some troubling behaviors towards women that could manifest into violence, mental and physical abuse, sexual aggression, hate for women who look like you and the list can go on potentially.

As your neighbor, elder and a member of our village, I ask you to change your ways. I ask you to think about your son and what energy and information you allow into his young world. His brain will grow the most up until the age of 8 or so. I can imagine that life may have been hard for you and I can assume what your relationship is with the father of your son? You both have to get better and know that I am willing to help because you are a part of my community and I know that sometimes a letter like this or a kind word can help you to turn the corner and break this vicious cycle of violence (in it’s many facets).

My life is attached to your life and the life of your son. When I see the both of you, I see myself. I want you to hold your gift tighter because a nation mourns on this day over the loss of so many young ones to senseless violence in Newtown and even here in the Chi. Lil Moma (and I say that in kindness), I want you to BE better and do better for the whole of our community. We together, are only as strong as our weakest link. I pray you well.

Beloved community, when you see something you must say something. Silence strangles our communities and pressure boils to the surface and all that pressure breaks many of us. As human beings we are all connected in this journey called life. As I write this article I hear the Creators asking Cain “Where is your brother Abel.” Cain responded, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:9. We have heard too many times about taking care of one another, but yet we seem to be failing as a whole. We are equally as guilty as Cain when we see others and don’t care about them. We must do better. We can do better. Peace. Light. Love.

(Bryan, consultant and human rights activist who strives to make improvements in marginalized communities by focusing on the communities internal assets. He can be reached,

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