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.