I've been writing for the people of the internet for more than a decade, so I'm used to my fair share of hate mail. I don't generally share the details of my inbox with the public (choosing instead to send screenshots to my close friends so we can vent about the insanity of the world together), but two e-mails I received from people who had similar complaints about an article I wrote seem like they offer a lesson of sorts about how we should—and shouldn't—communicate with each other.

A few months ago, I wrote an article about some people's reactions to the murder of Cannon Hinnant, a 5-year-old North Carolina boy shot and killed by a neighbor while out riding his bike in front of his house. It was a terrible, tragic story. Anti-BLM forces quickly jumped on it, complaining that the national media didn't cover the story like they would if the races were reversed (Hinnant was white, his killer was Black). A #SayHisName campaign accompanied the complaint, usurped from the BLM movement. My piece pointed out the reasons why that complaint was problematic.

You can read the piece here if you want the context for the emails I'm going to share with you.

As with many articles I write, the reactions were split. I got messages from people thanking me for expressing exactly what they had wanted to say, and messages from people who vehemently disagreed. I always a bit amazed when people take the time to track down my e-mail address to share their thoughts on what I write, and I generally appreciate it, even when they're writing to tell me they disagree with me. But the disagreement messages for this article were on a whole other level.

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Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
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When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

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