In the wake of the shooting of Daunte Wright on April 11 2021 in Brooklyn Center Minnesota, adding yet another name to a list that should not exist, our hearts are broken, and we think of a list in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between the World and Me. It appears in the course of his recounting the killing of Prince Jones (9/1/2000): “And the plunder was not just of Prince alone …
Think of the love that was poured into him.
Think of the tuitions for Montessori and music lessons.
Think of the gasoline expended, the treads worn carting him to football games, basketball tournaments, and Little League.
Think of all the time spent regulating sleepovers.
Think of the surprise birthday parties, the daycare, and the reference checks on babysitters.
Think of World Book and Childcraft.
Think of checks written for family photos.
Think of credit cards charged for vacations.
Think of soccer balls, science kits, chemistry sets, racetracks, and model trains.
Think of all the embraces, all the private jokes, customs, greetings, names, dreams, all the shared knowledge and capacity of a black family injected into that vessel of flesh and bone.
And think of how that vessel was taken, shattered on the concrete, and all its holy contents, all that had gone into him, sent flowing back to the earth.”1
We think of how this list applies to every person on the list of black victims of police violence and how some form of it applies to every parent’s child: that is, to everyone. Mindful of the “holy contents” of every human being, may we answer Coates’ call to think of these things by becoming nurturers of a world in which a list of black victims of police violence would be un-thinkable.
1Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me, New York, Spiegel & Grau, 2015, pp. 81-82 (our formatting).
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