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Lessons From A Father

Picture of a mug with tea and a book titled "I've Been Meaning To Tell You" by David Chairiandy
Picture of a mug with tea and a book titled "I've Been Meaning To Tell You" by David Chairiandy

Title: I’ve been Meaning to Tell You: A Letter to my Daughter

Author: David Chairiandy

Genre: nonfiction essays memoir

What I'm Drinking: Chamomile

Summary: In I’ve been Meaning to Tell You, David Chairiandy shares memories of the role racism played in his life growing up as a biracial son to two minority parents from Trinidad. He shares these stories with his biracial daughter as she becomes more aware of the complexities of race.

Any ideas prior to reading the book: I have found myself having many conversations with my own father about race and self identity. More recently, events that have led me to seek my dad’s advice on life were: becoming more aware of myself, what I define as community, Black Lives Matter, the death of George Floyd, going through a pandemic, being quarantined in and forced to face the impacts of racism.

The main part of the summary of this book that made me interested in reading it was Chariandy's “hopes to help cultivate within [his daughter] a sense of identity and responsibility that balances the painful truths of the past and present with hopeful possibilities for a better future“. I was interested in seeing if there would be any similarities between what my father has told me and what the author David Chariandy writes to his then 13 year old daughter.

Thoughts after reading the book: After reading the book, I can see that Chariandy’s goal of sharing his experiences with his daughter was to teach her about their family’s legacy of strength and resilience. It was interesting hearing the stories of racism through the lens of a biracial Canadian because it is the same story of so many people of color in America.

One thing I was left wondering at the end of the book was if Chariandy’s stories were enough to impact his daughter’s views and understanding of racism? It’s hard to tell through her new found independence as a teenager and the distancing shift in their father daughter relationship. Chariandy spoke about being harassed by his classmates and I love that years later when his son was called the N-word by a classmate, his daughter stepped up to protect her little brother by confronting her brother’s classmate head on. Through this type of bravery and Chariandy’s mention of his daughter's quick smile leads me to believe that she did hear him and his stories have become a part of her and who she is becoming as a person of color.

Every generation has a role to play in the success of future generations. My father has always emphasized how resilient black people are and how we are able to survive obstacles and still make a life for ourselves. For me, surviving is not enough. I want to thrive! Parents of parents had to survive for their children to thrive. With this cycle, my hope is that future generations will be able to progress and eventually break through the barriers of racism.

I think that anyone who enjoys reflective reads would like this book. There were times when I got lost due to Cheriandy’s style of writing, but through it I was still able to reflect and find parallels between his story and stories I’ve heard from my father and others. Each generation is building on the legacy of their ancestors for a better tomorrow for generations to come.

- Maya & The Spine Down



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Hi you guys, my name is Maya and welcome to The Spine Down!


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