*This letter is in response to a video degrading a young mother who was allegedly murdered by her partner in my hometown. She did not deserve to die.
Let's just get right to the point, shall we? I am not a hood rat.
I am not a holla back girl. I am not a b****, h**, or anything of that nature.
You can call me by my government-recognized name: Jamie I.Y. Crockett.
I was raised and attended school and my place of worship in East St. Louis, IL and its surrounding area.
I worked to do my best in a public school system that needed assistance. As a result, I was among the top in my class. And by the way, my graduating class is incredibly intelligent. So intelligent and driven, our teachers have proclaimed they haven't witnessed a class like ours.
I am a survivor. I have been through so many things as a human being and global citizen, not just an East St. Louis resident. So many things that should have killed me. Yet, I have a soft heart, and I definitely wear a tough skin.
I am a Mizzou Tiger. I am a first-generation college student. I am a self-starting, independent, highly motivated perfectionist. I operate in the spirit of excellence. Hear me roar.
I am a daughter, a friend, a sister, a student, a class president, a valedictorian, a journalist, a motivational speaker, a CEO & Founder, a runner up for an international video contest, a participant of a Harvard research project regarding youth and their positive online community building, a volunteer, a lover of people, a gentle spirit, a roaring lioness, a child of the Most High, a HUMAN BEING!
As a human being, I will not stand by and watch the defamation of another individual. I speak up!
Who are you? Who are you to stamp every individual connected to East St. Louis, IL with "Scum of the Earth?" Who are you to rank my hometown among the most dangerous cities in America?
Who are you to claim our success stories, but throw away our "troubled children?"
Who are you to hail Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Al Joyner, Dawn Harper, Katherine Dunham, Miles Davis, Terry Hawthorne, Tina and Ike Turner and more as "American All-stars," but you speak of every other resident as a nameless piece of wasted time and dust that the Good Lord could have spent creating something else.
Last I checked, we all are made of the same dust. How dare you.
How dare you belittle MY family. The village who raised me. The lives who molded me. How dare you.
You didn't help me become the activist I am today. But you sure as heck have fueled the fire.
You don't have any authority to speak on the lives of my fellow residents.
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Stop talking and DO SOMETHING to assist what you THINK may be failing in my hometown.
Move your family here for a year, A YEAR. Learn the people. Love the people. See the issues. Solve the problems. THEN, AND MAYBE THEN, YOU CAN GIVE YOUR INPUT.
But not a moment sooner.
Because until you do so, until you remember that you may have struggled to be where you are, until you remember that you had a silver spoon to eat from, until you remember that a life is not more valuable than another because of social and economic status, religious/nonreligious beliefs, geographic location, skin color or any other privilege you THINK you have, you will NEVER be able to speak with authority on something you know nothing about.
I am a shining light and I shine through the darkness.
My name is Jamie Crockett, a resident filled with hometown pride, and I approved this message.