Dear Great Grandpa

Brianna Valentine

(12 November 1960)


Professor Micheal has hit me once again. I am not sure how much longer I can stay at this Academy; I will try to run away. 

They call this a school? Brax was beaten and hung up for speaking against a teacher. Ric was caught kissing El, and they were locked in the basement until they had to get pulled out because they were tearing at each other’s throats, and El couldn’t breathe. Our beds are metal, our walls are molded, our clothes are too small and tearing at the seams, the dogs bite at us, and there are wolves in the trees. 

We are slaves here.

I know that Dr. King is speaking about change and you want me to believe it, but I can not wait until 2005 to be able to go to a school without pain for trying to learn; I should not be forced to rebuild roofs and be told that is all the schooling I need. Ma, I’m going to run.

Hopefully, things will be better in the future.

I love yous,


(18 November 2020)

Great Grandpa Jacob,

I found your letter, and although you already passed, I felt like there were some things to tell you. 

I am sorry to hear about your friend Brax who was hung and those boys who clawed at each other because they were locked up in solitary confinement. And the housing/ clothes problems that you had at your school. Especially the wolves and dogs.

Things did not get better. There are still deaths by police; an officer killed an African American man named George Floyd. The officer named Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for a period initially reported to be 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

In February, a man named Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old black man was pursued and fatally shot while jogging near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia. He was killed by a father and son who decided that he looked as if he was going to rob one of the houses in their neighborhood. 

We are in almost the same predicament that you were in 60 years ago. There is still pain and segregation. I often want to run away too, but because of the 21st century’s way of communication and interweb, connectivity has indeed changed and it seems like there is almost no escape from pain; there is no way to hide sometimes. There is aggression everywhere, and there are people who seemingly take joy in showing it. 

There are cell phones, they seem to be our only form of communication now, and they seem to be the main things that make us all separated. My Mom told me how much you used to talk about writing letters. I wish I could have seen you do it.

You say that you were slaves? Because you were trapped and killed. I feel as if we are in the same position; we are trapped and killed by people who stand near us who still see only our skin tone and not all of the things we have accomplished or done with them as their equals. I think we are still slaves as well, but now we take the time to parade our horrors and dare call that a movement.

I wish you were still alive to tell me how you had made it out. Maybe, we could all try the same way.


Jacob III

Based on Ibram X Kendi; How To Be An Antiracist and Colson Whitehead’s; The Nickel Boys