"All I ask for is for safety. I just wanna be safe.”
That simple, yet significant request is what 13-year-old Malik Bryant of Chicago asked for this Christmas in a letter addressed to Santa Claus. He and his two sisters and mother live in the crime-ridden Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.
Little did Bryant know that a powerful, internationally known figure had received his compelling Christmas letter. President Barack Obama responded to the teenager in a follow-up letter, with hopes of offering "a few words of encouragement this holiday season.”
"Each day, I strive to ensure communities like yours are safe places to dream, discover, and grow,” the president wrote. "Please know your security is a priority for me in everything I do as president. If you dare to be bold and creative, work hard every day, and care for others, I'm confident you can achieve anything you imagine. I wish you and your family the very best for the coming year, and I will be rooting for you.”
Bryant wrote his Christmas letter as part of a yearly local campaign geared to help Chicago public school students receive their Christmas wishes with the help of donors who act as Santa Claus. The CEO of the non-profit that organized the campaign reportedly forwarded the letter to a U.S. Representative who then passed it along to the White House.
“I didn’t know what to do with it. Malik’s teacher suggested we get him winter wear and some school supplies. So I sent off his letter to one of our Santas. Yet I couldn’t stop thinking about it,” Michelle DiGiacomo, CEO of DirectEffect Charities, said. “Then it hit me. Someone bigger than Santa needed to see this letter. I thought the president of the United States needed to see it."
In addition to receiving a heartfelt response from President Obama, Bryant was also gifted with a new computer and a Wii game.
"I barely can't even go outside anymore, can't ride my bike, can't play ball, can't go play with my cousins, because you have to watch your back every 30 seconds," Malik recently told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I know the president's letter isn't going to, like, solve the safety reasons out here, and it's still going to be dangerous, but I'm excited the president of the United States wrote to me, and I can't wait to show it off.”
BET Politics - Your source for the latest news, photos and videos illuminating key issues and personalities in African-American political life, plus commentary from some of our liveliest voices. Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: Chicago Sun-Times via Youtube)