The emotional letter from a BBC correspondent in the United States to his newborn daughter

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The emotional letter from a BBC correspondent in the United States to his newborn daughter





© Getty Images
New York has been one of the American cities most affected by the new coronavirus pandemic.


You were born on the third night of the curfew and in the third month of confinement by covid-19; You came into the world as an epic story unfolded around us.

When your mother went into labor, police helicopters flew over our apartment building.

The midwife was questioned by agents from policeman in the front door.

And when we looked out the window, shortly after your birth, a convoy of New York patrols was dashing across the Brooklyn Bridge toward the lower Manhattan towers with flashing blue and scarlet lights.

Every day for the next week a column of protesters made the same journey across the bridge.

Tens of thousands of them were shouting the mantra of the movement Black Lives Matter (“Black people’s lives matter”).

You took your first breaths as protesters across the United States chanted “I can’t breathe” (I can’t breathe).


New York's central station is usually crowded, but during the quarantine it was almost deserted.


© Getty Images
New York’s central station is usually crowded, but during the quarantine it was almost deserted.


We opted for a home birth because you were born at a time when people were afraid of hospitals.

But in the previous nights, when the roads were obstructed by protesters and the riot police formed human barricades On the bridges and major avenues a few blocks from our home, we feared that our midwife might have difficulty reaching.

Or that the routes to the nearest emergency rooms were cut off.

Forced to hibernate by a viral attack that killed more than 17,000 New Yorkers, different parts of the city were paralyzed by the protests.

Both your mother and me we suffer from coronavirus, a disease we had never heard of when this fateful year began.

And even in the womb you may have felt the violent seizures ofl Body of your mother.

Hear the coughing fits that left her breathless.

Maybe you even felt her appalling fear to be hospitalized.


Some of the protests in the United States ended in violent clashes with the police.


© Getty Images
Some of the protests in the United States ended in violent clashes with the police.


You may well have been aware of our high state of anxiety.

After months living in the most affected city in the most affected country, we had become accustomed.

Your older brothers will tell you that your dad is a “worry person”.

But unfortunately, the curse of being a foreign correspondent is having witnessed many of the worst scenarios.

At bedtime for weeks, I read birth visualizations to your mom: soothing, almost hypnotic words designed to comfort our anxious minds.

But the story of your birth seemed rather drawn from the pages of the novel The year of living dangerously (“The year we lived dangerously).

And tragically That’s what 2020 had become.


The Mayor of New York with his wife Charlene McCray on a visit to one of the hospitals that has been battling the coronavirus.


© Getty Images
The Mayor of New York with his wife Charlene McCray on a visit to one of the hospitals that has been battling the coronavirus.


Parents usually cry with joy the first time they see their newborn.

For us, the tears came with a torrent of relief.

your safe and sound arrival marked the reversal of months of mental siege; a respite after sleepless nights from pre-traumatic stress.

If the contagion explains the use of the masks, the quarantine and the congratulations through screens, what explained these protests?

The column of protesters outside our window became as regular as your lactation hours.

The chants almost drownedban your screams.

What happened is that, in the midst of the pandemic, a video went viral.

It showed a black man, George Floyd, suffocated under the knee of a white police officer.

A death that lasted almost nine minutes.

An allegedly homicidal act that came to epitomize how African Americans have been subjected and suffocated by systemic racism.


George Floyd died after Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.


© Getty Images
George Floyd died after Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.


The fury quickly spread.

This was the largest racial protest since the summer of my birth, in 1968.

The United States found itself facing three simultaneous seizures: A health crisis that disproportionately affected people of color, an economic impact that disproportionately affected people of color, and civil unrest caused by police brutality that have always disproportionately affected people of color.

A broken mirror that returned the image of a fractured country.

This racial reckoning was not limited to the United States.

In Australia, where your older brother and sister were born, thousands protested against treatment to The aborigines, the victims of white colonization, British colonization.

In my beloved hometown of Bristol, UK, protesters demolished a bronze statue of a slave trader, and then they threw her into the port where her prison ships once docked.

For most of my adult life, racial gap in America It has been a kind of personal obsession.

I have traveled through the south of the country, visiting the climaxes of the fight for equality for black people.

I sat down and spoke to activists who were mistreated and beaten.

I reviewed the files of white supremacists who tried to defend the racial apartheid system that separated the races from the cradle to the grave.


Protests over the death of George Floyd also spread in the United Kingdom and the statue of a slave trader was launched in the city of Bristol.


© Getty Images
Protests over the death of George Floyd also spread in the United Kingdom and the statue of a slave trader was launched in the city of Bristol.


In this quest to understand, I discovered that the civil war that was waged on this soil more than 150 years ago never ended, and that racial division was always the setting predominantly from the United States.

I can tell you that the riots we witnessed in the week of your birth were not something strange, but part of a whole historical thread.

All this I know and understand.

However, what I can never explain to you is what it feels like to put yourself in the shoes of a black person.

What I can tell you is that the color of your skin gives you privileges.

It gives you the presumption of innocence.

It offers great protection if the car we drive is stopped by the police.

It’s very probable that live longer than a black baby born on the same night.

May you earn more money for the same job.

That you have more opportunities to complete your education and graduate from university.


The infant mortality rate is a good indicator of the overall health of a community.


© Getty Images
The infant mortality rate is a good indicator of the overall health of a community.


Too often, we tell ourselves a comforting story about racial progress.

From the old segregationist citadels now run by black mayors.

From a prosperous black middle class.

From a young African-American president who occupied a White House built by slaves.

But the truth is that the fight for true black equality may never achieve its goal.

He dream could postpone forever.

In these moments of personal happiness, I know that I sound dejected.

I should tell you about my love for the United States, a crush that started long before I came here, when I was a teenager in the mid-80s.

Having grown up in a country where too many people resign themselves to their destiny from a very young age, I delighted in their possibilities: that faith in the personal and generational advancement we call American Dream (“ANDThe American Dream ”).

I have never shared the instinctive anti-americanism from many of my European colleagues.

After spending more time of my adulthood here than in Britain, there were times when I would have happily acquired American citizenship.


Several people applaud workers at a hospital in the Queens neighborhood of New York.


© Getty Images
Several people applaud workers at a hospital in the Queens neighborhood of New York.


But now I admit to having mixed feelings about the fact that you were born in the United States.

And that you can travel the world with an eagle in your passport.

This it’s not the country i fell in love with as a child.

The words United States of America now sound like a misnomer, an oxymoron.

The notion of “American exceptionalism”, far from being impressive and emulative, has become a negative construct, something we associate with mass shootings, unsafe schools, police brutality, deranged politics.

Since the beginning of the new century, we have talked about a post-American world.

But my fear is that we are facing a post-American America: a country in an irreconcilable state of division and decline; a broken superpower in a broken world.

It was shocking how many friends and family thought you should be called Hope.

The brightest of lightning in the darkest days, people seemed to look at you like the daughter of fate.


The Black Lives Matter movement emerged during the Obama administration.


© Getty
The Black Lives Matter movement emerged during the Obama administration.


But it is not your job to fix the world’s problems for us, it is our urgent responsibility to fix them for you: the climate emergency; disparities of wealth and opportunities; sexism and sexual violence; the racial gap.

Also Pandora’s box of artificial intelligence and autonomous weapons.

Or the transnational challenges that make us all global citizens.

In no time, I hope that New York becomes charismatic again and that you can experience this epic global city.

We will see strangers smile – and frown – again.

Close friends and family can finally cradle her in her arms.

But to be honest, Honor, something I don’t expect is a quick return to normality.

Because one thing that became very evident during these months of global paralysis and weeks of protests is that normality no longer works.





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