Dear Ms. Cooper-Jones,
I ran yesterday. If we knew each other personally, you would know that isn’t unusual. In fact, I did some quick math and estimated that I’ve run about 2500 times in the past 10 years. Yesterday was different, though. Yesterday I ran 2.23 miles in honor of your son.
Since that horrific video erupted on Wednesday, I have become distinctly aware that my American experience is not everyone’s. It certainly wasn’t Ahmaud’s American experience. In all of my runs I have never felt threatened except maybe when a car got too close. How did we come to this, I wonder? Is it because people like me have lived in a white, suburban bubble of naivety and never taken the time to look beyond ourselves? Oh, I’ve had Black friends all my life and I am fortunate that my parents raised me to judge a person by their character, not their skin. But I never knew that a posse could still exist in my America. I never knew…
You should know that Ahmaud has had a profound impact on me these last few days. I believe your comments about his character, but what I saw in that video was raw courage. When threatened by a predator, Ahmaud moved forward instead of running away. We need more men of courage like your son in this world. I’m so sorry he is gone.
I’m also sorry you will celebrate May 8 without him from now on. We have something in common, you and I. Every February 13, I celebrate my daughter, Kylie’s birthday without her. She would be 18 now if cancer hadn’t taken her. For me, the loss of potential is the hardest thing to take. It physically hurts to know that Ahmaud and Kylie had something special to give this world and we are poorer because those contributions have been taken from us.
My family had the benefit of being by Kylie’s side at the end and she urged me to fight childhood cancer. That’s what I do with every fiber of my being. What Ahmaud would tell you to do now? He is bringing people together in a mighty way right now to fight this injustice. I would urge you to do whatever you can to keep his name alive, whether that means continuing this fight or something else. Working in Kylie’s memory is all that has kept me going these five years – while at times it is painful, it can also be cleansing.
The loss of a child is so unnatural and overwhelming. Please seek help and surround yourself with people who love you and loved your son. Cry whenever you need to and don’t feel guilty on the first day you don’t. You and I will never get over our losses, but we must learn how to move forward. If I can help with this new journey through grief in any way, you have but to ask.
Ms. Cooper-Jones, I want you to know that I wept for you and for Ahmaud as I ran. And I wept for this country that can’t seem to get it right. I truly hope Ahmaud is helping us turn a corner.
But your son… your son brought tears out of an old white man and got him to write a letter to you. That’s something, isn’t it! Your brave young man is still working hard.
I am so very sorry for your loss,
Mark Myers (Kylie’s Daddy)