Dear men of color,

In a time where our country is more divided than ever we are approaching a day that celebrates love. Valentine’s Day is often painted as a transactional holiday, one where we give gifts in exchange for love.

This Valentine’s Day I am writing to tell you how much you are loved and appreciated. Although society often tells you that you are less than and not valued, know that you are all kings.

NC State might overlook your contributions when they don’t include Carter Finley Stadium or PNC Arena, but I don’t. I appreciate your willingness to stay in DH until well past midnight and then discuss the racial climate of our campus in a town hall the next day. I know that sometimes it is hard to discuss issues regarding race and ethnicity without being labeled as angry. But I say, be angry, be passionate and be anything else you want to be. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and your feelings. Rigid masculinity can prove toxic and in a world that will make every effort to choke the life out of you, you don’t need anything else to weigh you down.

I appreciate you whether you wear letters on your chest, a jersey on your back or a Marvel t-shirt. I acknowledge that you all come in different sizes, skin tones and speak different languages. I recognize that you have a variety of religious affiliations, you might be apart of the LGBTQ+ community and you have various socioeconomic statuses. You are not a monolith at all. You are the furthest thing from it. In fact, here at NC State you are a diverse group of scholars.

As young men, as our future, it is imperative that you practice self care. Take some time to read, study, play basketball, do whatever it is that makes you feel great. In the words of Audre Lorde “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Know that you are valued and worthy of being loved. If no one else has told you today, I love you and I hope you have a very happy Valentine’s Day.

Love always,