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Gia Perotte


Here you are, head held tall, eyes cast down, caught in a moment of deep thought. You, like me and everyone pictured in this book, are living through a time of change, crisis, and catastrophe. All I wish for you and your brother Kieran is endless happiness and success in achieving your dreams. But I know that this world you will inherit is flawed. The past months have made this fact undeniable for us all.

You are part of a family history that spans the globe over generations. Your Trinidadian grandparents brought me into the world in London. Then we crossed the ocean and I grew up in New York. I have moved between cultures my whole life, renegotiating my identity in relation to my present and past. What I have come to realise is that who we are is constantly in flux. Instead of defining myself narrowly, I choose to be a citizen of the world.

My cosmopolitan background only makes me more aware of the problems we face. I watched the uprising following the murder of George Floyd in the U.S. and I personally understood the experience of racism there. But I also know that racial injustice is a global problem. As such, it is tied to so many other forms of injustice: gender inequality, class stratification, wars sanctioned by world powers, incessant poverty, and the warming climate. These compounding crises can feel so overwhelming that it’s hard to see a way forward.

2020 began with a sense of promise. We made plans and looked optimistically to the future. And then suddenly we were caught off guard by a deadly pandemic. For the first time, I was confronted by a true unknown. Going into lockdown isolation was a profound shock for me, you, our family, and families the world over. We lost so many everyday things that bring meaning to our lives: gathering with friends and family, going to pubs, seeing theatre, visiting galleries, watching sports. But I now see that this time offered us a reset. Perhaps we had lost track of what matters most in life. We were forced to slow down by events beyond our control. And this brought an unexpected space for reflection and renewal.

2020 is the year that woke us up. This pandemic will end. But we will be profoundly changed. The question now is how we will move beyond this moment to make the future world we want to live in. We will need to adjust our values and focus on our family, friends, community, and planet. We will need to confront the social injustices that have been there all along. For you, Gia, for Kieran, and for young people everywhere, I believe we can do these things. I can imagine a better world, but it will be yours to inhabit.

Love always, Dad.