"I Wish I Could Make You Cry over Robert Cuadra As You Cried over George Floyd."

A letter from the ghetto to the suburbs.

Dear Collette,

For the past four days, I've been thinking about writing this letter. I couldn't write earlier because I was crying. Four days ago, I got the news about Robert. Tears washed away my ink. Friday? Saturday? My brain ping-ponged from one scheme to another – should I march? Should I fast? Should I paint a protest sign? Should I go to Robert's house and pray the rosary on my knees? Should I write a letter to my senator, Cory "Spartacus" Booker?

I am as voiceless as a submerged sea sponge. Robert's life didn't matter. My life doesn't matter. Nothing I would do would matter to anyone with any power to change anything – would matter to you. We, all of us here, we are all powerless and worthless targets in some gun's sight. My soul curled up like a worm. It's people like you who steer national policy, and nothing I say can make you cry over Robert as you cried over George Floyd.

Collette, when I first "met" you via social media, I had an immediate girl crush on you. Though you are a woman of a certain age, you retain the physical attractiveness you've been blessed with, and have used, since girlhood. You regularly post new, full-face selfies, and bask in the praise from your many fans. You live one of the lives I wish I had lived. You married a man who earns enough that you don't have to work. You devote your hours to cultivating an expansive garden, housing collectibles in your tastefully appointed home, honing your creative gifts at your easel, and training your pedigree dogs. Your tender heart you exercise in high-minded volunteer work.

I remember the first time I realized that my crush would not be reciprocated. You seem to live in a world without black people. You finally crossed paths with one and found it necessary to breathlessly detail the encounter on Facebook, as if you'd discovered a new species of butterfly, and you returned to civilization in your pith helmet and knee-high leather boots. She lives in twenty-first century America but suddenly you were Atticus Finch, you were Harriet Beecher Stowe, and you had to educate your Facebook friends about the evils of Jim Crow. That, at that time, we'd already elected a black president twice – and black governors, mayors, representatives – seemed lost on you. Black people are "helpless" and "afraid" and good white women – "allies" – like you – protect black people.

I wanted to say, but didn't, "You are infantilizing her. What are you protecting black people from? In this theatrical production, the enemy is an amorphous, shadowy mob of whitemen – one word – Republicans, Southerners, Christians, but, primarily, poor whites. You've chosen poor whites as your villains because we say things that rich whites feel it beneath them to say; we live truths that rich whites find unacceptable in their narrative; and because you don't know us, any more than you know black people."

I said none of that. I wanted to have what I could of your privileged life, even in just being allowed to view your Facebook photos of your burgeoning, bee-rich garden and your sweet, fluffy hounds.

And then George Floyd.

I tried to say the following. Every responsible voice in the country condemned Derek Chauvin. Chauvin was immediately fired, charged, imprisoned, tried, and is now serving time for murder. This swift and furious justice was wielded, primarily, by uniformed and otherwise institutional white men following rules set down by other white men. Thugs, arsonists, and crazies in the streets – including Ivy League lawyers throwing Molotov cocktails at a police car – played no role in advancing that justice at all.

I said something else, something that was very difficult for you to hear. "Play stupid games; win stupid prizes." No, no one wanted Floyd dead, least of all Derek Chauvin, whose own life effectively ended as Floyd breathed his last. But by choosing drugs and crime, Floyd gambled with his own fate. Repeat criminals increase the chances that they will encounter a cop who makes the wrong choices and ends them.

Collette, in your language, "Play stupid games; win stupid prizes" is translated as "Blame the victim," as "Floyd deserved to die," as a callous, racist person refusing to feel compassion, and gloating over Floyd's death. Your translation of that phrase is a refusal to understand. Your translations of that truth and others damage the very black people you, an "ally," claim to protect.

Let me enflesh that proverb; let me animate it with real life. Every male in my immediate family has been in jail. They were arrested, often, for the most minor of infractions. Here's one: "Talking back." My mother saw my father being viciously beaten by police. She didn't tell me this to make me hate police. She told me this to educate me in real world survival.

My parents took the side of the law against my brothers. Obey authority. Not because you like authority; in fact, the subliminal message was that authority was categorically different from and opposed to folks like us. We should resist authority, but cleverly and cautiously. "Play stupid games; win stupid prizes" did not translate to "blame the victim;" rather, it translated to "Survive this time; win next time."

You scoff. You don't believe that white men also have bad encounters with cops. You allow only discussion of race, never of class. Convenient for you, because, of course, you have money. We, poor whites, are the bad guys of your narrative. You want to be able to justify your contempt for us. Our mere existence, the truth of our lives, throws you off your game.  

Unlike my four brothers, I was a girl and my nemeses were not cops but nuns. One day I was punished for wearing shabby shoes. They were the only shoes I had. Sister Anthony made me stand in the hallway for hours, even after the other kids had left for the day. Near sunset, I finally peed myself. Then, when my woolen uniform skirt and white anklet socks and shabby shoes were wet, she bade me walk home. Neighbors were sure to witness and gossip about my humiliation. My mother, when told, immediately drove to the store, bought a gift for the nun, drove to the nun's house – to my surprise all the nuns inhabited a trailer plopped in a weedy field – and my mother apologized to the nun in front of me.

Can you even understand that attitude to authority, even authority so minor it could not afford a house, a lawn, a private bedroom? Crossing authority, even in so naïve an infraction as wearing the only shoes you have, risked that you would fall through the invisible trap door that was underneath every poor person, black, white, or brown, in my small town. One false move, and you could be behind bars, like my father, who was sent to reform school as a child. You could be dead, like my first crush, who died of a heroin overdose. You could be a drunk on the street, like the men my father left the house in the middle of the night to help, as part of his Alcoholics Anonymous activities. People tease me about my obsessive cleaning. They don't know the anxiety. If dust accumulates on the floor, here come the Cossacks. It's off to Siberia with me. Please don't think I'm kidding. I'm not.

My parents' approach was reasonably successful. Four of their six kids, who grew up eating surplus food, owned their own homes at the times of their deaths. Five of the six had degrees. Only one of their children fell through that invisible trap door into lifelong poverty, the one naïve enough to get a PhD and attempt an academic career. Does making choice A rather than choice B benefit black people? Only 6.2 % of married black people live below the poverty line. Almost 30% of black single mothers live below the poverty line. Yes, personal choices matter.

"How Not to Get Your Ass Kicked by the Police" is Chris Rock's dramatization of "Play stupid games; win stupid prizes." Chris Rock isn't saying, in his comedy video, that black men deserve to get their asses kicked by police. He's saying that some behaviors make it more likely that one's ass will get kicked by police. Getting high on meth and fentanyl and trying to pass a counterfeit twenty is one of those risky behaviors.

"America is a terminally racist country and you are doomed till we destroy and replace it." What if, instead of this, BLM supporters said, "No drugs; no lawbreaking; if stopped, don't move unless told to do so." Which message would save more black lives? Leftists require black men's doom to justify their revolution. Nice white ladies like you can't encourage black men to protect themselves with the choices they make because to you, black people are children, and you are their protector. Your status robs black people of agency. Your approach will get more black people killed.

"All Mothers Were Summoned When George Floyd Called Out for His Mama," read the caption on a photo you posted. An artist, Valerie Delgado, painted George Floyd as Jesus being tightly embraced by a paler-skinned Mary. Another image replaced Jesus' body with Floyd's in Michelangelo's Pieta. Kelly Latimore's painting "Mama" depicts Floyd as Jesus embraced by Mary. Mary and Floyd appear to kiss each other on the lips. It's impossible to deny the erotic component in these depictions. In 2007, Floyd tricked a pregnant woman by wearing a meter reader's uniform, gaining entry to her home, and holding a gun to her belly as he and his partners robbed her. Nice women are often notoriously attracted to "bad boys."

It's your selectivity that is so telling. On July 6, 2016, a police officer stopped Philando Castile for a broken tail light. Castile's girlfriend was in the car, as well as her four-year-old daughter. Castile informed the officer that he had a license to carry a gun. The officer panicked and shot Castile. The girlfriend livestreamed a dying Castile, wearing a white shirt stained red with his blood. Her four-year-old daughter watched a man die. Castile was, by all accounts, a mild-mannered cafeteria worker who often paid for the lunches of poor schoolchildren. Conservative media, including Front Page Magazine, condemned this killing.

On July 15, 2017, Justine Ruszczyk Damond, a visiting Australian veterinarian and meditation coach, phoned Minneapolis police to report what sounded, to her, like a rape in an alley. Police arrived. Damond approached. She was "unarmed and barefoot, wearing pajama pants and a pink T-shirt with the image of a koala." An officer shot her dead.

In 2016, Tony Timpa died under similar circumstances to George Floyd. Also in 2016, Daniel Shaver was shot dead by police under horrific circumstances. Timpa and Shaver were white. I posted about Castile and Damond, and protested that their killings were tragic and unjust. None of my Facebook friends who would later become obsessed with George Floyd said anything to me about Castile or Damond, Timpa or Shaver. There is lovely art dedicated to Castile, but I didn't find any depictions of Castile and the Blessed Virgin Mary swapping spit. Your tears and rage are as exquisitely discriminating as a sommelier's palate or a perfumer's nose. Why?

"Jeronimo Yanez": that's the name of the cop who shot Castile. Yanez's first name is the name of a famous Apache warrior. Yanez is a common Hispanic surname. Yanez's Mestizo ancestry is apparent in his features; he looks like an Olmec sculptured head. Mohamed Noor is the name of the man who shot Justine Damond. Noor is black, an African immigrant, and a Muslim. He was hurried through training as a "quick way to diversify" the police force. In two years as a cop, Noor had three formal complaints.

Collette, "allies" like you were not going to set your Facebook pages on fire, were not going to march and burn and loot and destroy, over a cop named "Jeronimo Yanez," over a cop named "Mohamed Noor." Fate, functioning as central casting, sent you Derek Chauvin. The first name is the word for a phallic tower that yanks oil out of the ground. Chauvin shares a last name with Nicolas Chauvin, origin of the word "chauvinism," for a belligerent and unearned sense of superiority because one is male or one is Western, as in "male chauvinist," and "Western chauvinist." Chauvin's reptilian eyes glare as if he were a hit man on "The Sopranos." This is the villain you're looking for.

Collette, I suspect that you and your "allies" did not tear America apart because you care about police excessive force, or because you love George Floyd, but because you hate Derek Chauvin and what he represents to you. Floyd is less human to you than he was to Chauvin. Floyd is merely a Molotov cocktail you can fling from your Facebook page without polluting your manicure with the lingering scent of gasoline. Floyd was a convenient tool to denigrate America and depict it as deserving of being plowed under and replaced with a Woke Utopia.

You married an alpha white male, Collette. His white male ambition underwrites your life and your personality. Your ancestors built this America, Collette, which has rewarded you so very richly. You hate so much what you have, that I can only dream of having. After George Floyd, my girl crush swung to obsession. Why does Collette want to destroy her own world? My parents descended into steerage, crossed an ocean, seasick and vomiting, crawled into coal shafts, swabbed rich women's toilets, striving all their lives, not to earn a ticket to your neighborhood; they knew they'd never be granted entrance except as day laborers. But if their kids never spoke a word of Polish, worked full time after school at menial jobs and still earned straight A's, learned to say "Yes, sir, yes, ma'am, whatever you say, sir" – and yes my parents really did drill us in these phrases – then their kids might be able to enter your world. I am without a clue here as to what inspires culturally genocidal fantasies in such a nice suburban lady as yourself, fantasies you hide behind "compassion" for George Floyd.

Which brings me to Robert. To talk to you about Robert, I must again resort to a bilingual dictionary. I must translate a world you do not inhabit. Paterson, New Jersey's, streets are littered with garbage, there are abandoned brick textile mills and boarded up factories among the residences where children play, bums shoot up, hook up, and defecate in public, and luxury cars roll down their windows to curbside heroin venders. In this world you would be careful not to visit, Robert Cuadra managed to be an honor student, and an inspiration to his mother, an addict, who had to surrender him to foster care. He helped her to get clean. Robert earned a scholarship to Montclair State University. Academy-Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, TV star Stephen Colbert, and journalist Jonathan Alter are among the celebrities who live or have lived in Montclair. Just walking down the street in Montclair brings out my inner Marxist: mansion, mansion, mansion, mansion. Robert won a scholarship to spend four years there. I imagine Robert in college classes that introduce him to poetry, to physics, to his own depths and the universe's expanse.

Robert deserved the scholarship. "He did not hang out. He was school, work, and home to his mother and grandmother. Real good kid, real good kid," says a friend of the family. Robert's high school principal reported that Robert looked forward to "a tremendously bright future … everyone loved Robert. There are no words." "That boy, he had a heart of pure gold… He was trying to live better than being in the ghetto," said his cousin. "He did not have a malicious bone in his body. He was smiling all the time. He was the true definition of an innocent, good-hearted boy." Robert "helped build homes in Paterson for low-income families … he participated in charity fundraising walks, collected food and clothes for needy families and fed homeless people during the holidays."

On Wednesday, January 19, Robert was carrying groceries into his grandmother's house. "He always wanted to show that he was strong and could lift heavy things," said his aunt. "Gunfire erupted … The teen saw his grandmother fall to the ground … he rushed over to her … he was struck." (Accounts of Robert's death here, here, and here).

Robert was shot a mile from me. I walked to the memorial. It's a propped up white sheet. In black magic marker, people tried to say the right thing. They are the kind of sentiments one might write in a high school year book. "Miss you." "Love you." "See you when I get there." People lack the words to make this any easier. Under the sheet is a plastic milk crate holding over a dozen candles, the tall ones in glass containers with pictures of saints glued on the glass; you can buy these candles in bodegas and botanicas. There were bouquets of roses. Sidewalk memorials like this scatter throughout Paterson. I encounter them as I walk.

Robert was shot near the intersection of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Martin Luther King Way. I passed Midtown Liquors, a grotty little puke-green cube, daubed with graffiti. Seven black men were drinking in front of the liquor store. A young black man was curled up on the street, lying in his own waste.

Back in 2020, there wasn't much BLM activity in Paterson, but some activists did arrive to paint "Black Lives Matter" in huge, yellow, block lettering on Martin Luther King Way. I wish they had saved money on that mural and invited the men in front of Midtown Liquors to reflect on how their lifestyle choices affect youngsters. What must it be like to be a black boy in that neighborhood, to witness potential role models surrendering their minds and dignity to alcohol and drugs, and then, in the middle of the day, paving the sidewalk?

Did I know Robert? No, never met him. Did I know Robert? He is so like so many of my students. I know his challenges. I know his determination. I know his hope. For decades, I said to my students, "Work hard. Play by the rules. You can have it all. You could even get a scholarship to Montclair."

I would have said that to Jasmin Wel, 25, who graduated from my school and was working in skin care, her chosen field. She was shot to death on December 3, 2021, a mile from me. Khadijah Wilson, 27, was shot to death less than a mile from me the day before Thanksgiving. Khadijah was a nurse's aide, as I once was. Remy Lee, eight months pregnant, was shot by her baby daddy, Donqua Thomas, in 2020. Remy was shot on the road I walk to get to work. Genesis Rincon, 12 years old, and Ragee Clark, 15, were both shot to death by 19-year-old Jhymiere Moore in 2014; like Robert, they were shot close to the intersection of Rosa Parks Boulevard and Martin Luther King Way.

Kristal Bayron-Nieves, 19, was working the night shift at a Harlem Burger King. She was saving up to buy a car and attend nursing school. Her mother felt that the Burger King job was teaching her daughter responsibility. Kristal and her mother moved to New York from Puerto Rico just two years ago. Kristal was shot to death by a robber on January 9, 2022.

Sandra Shells was a 70-year-old African American nurse. While waiting at a bus stop, she was physically attacked on January 19, 2022, and died of a fractured skull. "Shells worked at LAC+USC Medical Center for 38 years and is being remembered as a dedicated public servant … 'Everyone is going to remember her by her smile. She just was a really nice person, mentor. Everyone loved her,'" reports ABC news.

Brianna Kupfer, 24, was working in a Los Angeles furniture store on January 13 when a man walked in, stabbed her to death, casually left the store and went shopping, as surveillance video shows, for a vape pen.

Michelle Alyssa Go, 40, "was incredibly smart. She was just the person who did everything right," a neighbor said. "She volunteered for 10 years … coaching women and children on nutrition with a goal of stabilizing at-risk and homeless families … While on a committee that focused on empowering young adults and teenagers, Ms. Go prepared job candidates for interviews, helped fine-tune résumés and offered tips on personal finance." Go was pushed in front of a subway train on January 15, 2022.

Jason Rivera, 22, when asked why he wanted to be a police officer, replied, "Coming from an immigrant family, I will be the first to say that I am a member of the NYPD, the greatest police force in the world … I witnessed my brother being stopped and frisked … [this] really bothered me … I wanted to be a part of the men in blue [to] better the relationship between the community and the police … I know that something as small as helping a tourist with directions, or helping a couple resolve an issue, will put a smile on someone's face." Rivera was shot to death when responding to a domestic violence call. His partner, 27-year-old Wilbert Mora, was also killed.

LaShawn McNeil is the alleged killer of Rivera and Mora. The New York Daily News reports that "McNeil raged on social media, posting anti-government and anti-police rants on his Facebook page … One post included a link to a video of the rap song 'Hands Up' by Uncle Murda and Maino. The video – considered a tribute to Eric Garner, who died at the hands of the NYPD in 2014, and other victims of police violence – shows the two rappers pointing guns at a cop's head."

The DC chapter of Black Lives Matter tweeted on January 23, 2022, that "tear jerker press conferences and proclamations of heroes" are "copaganda," and that "being Black is more dangerous than any job."

Every one of the victims mentioned above, except Robert, Jasmin, and Khadija, for whom no suspects have as yet been named, were killed by black men. I cannot find a description or a mugshot of Kerry Bell, the man accused of murdering Sandra Shells. If a white man beat a black nurse to death at a bus stop, that would be front-page news worldwide. Given that Shells' death has received minimal attention, I have to guess that her killer was black.

Brian Lehrer is the far-left morning talk host on WNYC, the far-left, New York City NPR affiliate. A caller phoned in on January 24 and oh-so-delicately broached the difficult topic. The caller said that there was an undeniable pattern in recent high-profile killings. The killers were black. "Four hundred years of racism!" Lehrer replied. And, of course, "Poverty!"

Poverty didn't cause Winston Glynn, to, allegedly, shoot Kristal Bayron-Nieves dead. Glynn was living in a homeless shelter on the taxpayer's tab. He demanded money; Bayron-Nieves gave him money. He was about to leave the Burger King, surveillance video shows, but he turned around and shot her to death anyway. Self-pity and a sense of entitlement appears to have motivated his actions. "Where's our reparations for four hundred years of f–king slavery!" he shouted during his perp walk. He alleged that police wrongfully and habitually arrest "n------." Ideology pulled that trigger. The very ideology that, Collette, you peddle on Facebook. And that Brian Lehrer broadcasts via taxpayer-funded radio.

On November 21, 2021, Darrell Brooks is alleged to have driven an SUV into a Christmas Parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Brooks is alleged to have murdered six people, including an 8-year-old boy, Jackson Sparks, and four grandmothers who were members of the "Dancing Grannies" dance troupe. A Brooks supporter began a GoFundMe fundraiser to support Brooks, justifying the appeal by citing Black Lives Matter, and stating that Brooks' imprisonment was "purely political and racist … There is no excuse for this continued treatment of black Americans by prosecutors around the country … RacismIsReal … NoJusticeNoPeace" Brooks' Facebook posts called for violence against whites and voiced support for Black Lives Matter. How did the Washington Post address what gave many signs of being an ideologically and racially motivated terror attack? By alleging that an SUV caused the Christmas parade massacre. "The Waukesha tragedy" was "caused by a SUV" (sic).

New York City's newly elected Democratic mayor, Eric Adams, is treating the recent shocking upturn in violence as a gun problem, sort of like the SUV problem in Waukesha. WNYC and other media are following suit. Anyone who listens to mainstream media now knows that the gun used to kill Officer Rivera and his partner, Wilbert Mora, was a 45 caliber Glock equipped with a drum magazine supporting 40 rounds, and that it was stolen in Baltimore in 2017. On January 25, 2022, Brian Lehrer blamed Southern, white, male Republican Mitch McConnell for current killings. Because Republicans traditionally resist gun control.

Collette, here's a question for you. What was the make, model, and capacity of the gun that white vigilante Travis McMichael used to shoot black jogger Ahmaud Arbery? You don't know anything about McMichael's gun, and neither do I. Any attention to the make, model, and capacity of the gun in the Arbery shooting would be an obscene distraction from the more important theme of the case. Any political and mass media attempt to write off the death of Ahmaud Arbery as "gun violence" would be met with outrage.

The black man who pushed Melissa Go in front of a train didn't need a gun to kill her. The black girls who carjacked immigrant Uber driver Mohammad Anwar and left him crushed on a sidewalk didn't need a gun to kill him. The black teen who pushed 84-year-old Thai grandfather Vicha Ratanapakdee to his death didn't need a gun. The 14- and 12-year-old black children who menaced Atlantic City shopkeeper Mehmood Ansari with a knife didn't need a gun to end his life. Shawn Laval Smith allegedly stabbed, not shot, Brianna Kupfer to death.

Collette, I'm old enough to remember the Civil Rights Movement and TV news programs engaging in mea culpas, saying that they were no longer going to identify criminals as "black," but merely as criminals. I know the history behind that choice. False accusations resulted in thousands of horrific lynchings. Emmett Till was just one victim; his accuser later admitted to making false accusations, accusations resulting in 14-year-old Till being lynched.

Collette, it's not sixty years ago. Collette, what if President Biden said he wanted to prepare for potential war with Russia by improving America's cavalry and increasing its stockpile of biplanes and dirigibles? He'd be recognized as demented and removed from office. We need to address today's problems, not those from sixty years ago.

We need to address the crisis in the family. LBJ's left-wing policies tried to replace the family with the government. Fathers, especially, were driven out of black households. Children from father-absent families face a plethora of challenges those from intact homes do not face. These children are far more likely to be imprisoned, and they are more likely than children raised with both biological parents to be abused and killed by their caretakers.

We need to address oppositional culture. Scholars like Orlando Patterson, John Ogbu, and John McWhorter have addressed oppositional culture and the menace it poses to black Americans. We should be reading these authors and assigning their works in schools.

We, Americans, as a country, have failed Robert Cuadra and all the other victims. And we've failed the victimizers, too. Look at any given photo of Jhymiere Moore, Genesis Rincon's killer. Does he look happy? Does he look, even, normal? Does he look like anyone who has ever been loved, cared for, guided, treated as if he mattered? I'm not saying he's not a killer and he doesn't belong in jail. He is a killer and he does belong in jail. But he is a victim, too. As long as black boys are victimized by neglect and false narratives, they will victimize others.

Heather MacDonald has the courage to say that "bourgeois values" are key to rescuing black boys in pain. Walter E. Williams enumerated salvific bourgeois values in his article "How Not to Be Poor." Graduate high school. Wait till you are married to have kids. Take a job and don't quit. Don't break the law. Heather MacDonald boosted such values here, and the responses from leftists in the comments section are absolutely murderous. MacDonald is called a racist, of course, but much worse.

Rich white liberals chose George Floyd as their poster boy, and not Philando Castile, not just because of the race of the officers who ended their lives. You chose the bad boy over the nice guy. You want black people to be gangstas, to live out the fantasies you dare not live out yourselves. Collette, you follow the rules. You delay gratification. You got married before you had kids. You don't drink or shoplift or shoot up. But you don't want black people to be like you. It's not that you don't want black people in your neighborhood; you don't want black people in your ethos. And there's more. Rich white liberals prefer George Floyd to Larry Elder, to Ben Carson, to Glenn Loury, to Candace Owens, to Carol Swain, because these high-achieving blacks worked hard, and played by the rules, and succeeded without your help. You want young men like Jhymiere Moore, who grew up on a street where his elders, black men, drink all day and lie on the sidewalk when they can no longer stand, to remain broken, because you want him to serve as an object lesson on how much America stinks, and how your bizarre hatred for your own country is justified. You want black people to suffer to underwrite your narrative, and to wait till you come along and rescue them with more welfare, more affirmative action, more lowered standards, more street murals of Mary kissing George Floyd.

Collette, I'm dyslexic. I grew up poor, that is, at-times, no-shoes, no-food poor, my dad was an alcoholic, and I was an abused kid. I'm fat and awkward, and when I was a grad student I was stricken with a chronic illness. For years, I often couldn't walk, could barely see, and could not stop vomiting. But I got a PhD, and my dissertation became an award-winning book.

How did I do it? Many factors contributed. Here's one. Those merciless nuns, who set the bar high, and never lowered it. We were poor. The nuns didn't care. "You want this?" they said. "Jump through this hoop to acquire it. If you can't, you can't have what you want." They didn't just make demands. They told us about a God who created the universe and yet was closer to us than our own breath, and cared about us intimately. We jumped, Collette. We jumped, higher and higher and higher and higher. And we believed that God had our backs, so we couldn't let Him down. You can't stand it that people can achieve without you lowering the bar. But we can. I began this letter quietly, but now I want to scream – at you, at Brian Lehrer, at Eric Adams and Cory Booker, at Stephen Colbert living in the Montclair where Robert will never study. I want to scream at all of you: my life, Robert's life, Jasmin's and Khadijah's and Remy's life, yes even Donqua's and Jhymeire's lives – our lives matter. People like you have power that people like me don't have. I'm begging you. Cry, as you did over George Floyd, for Robert Cuadra.

Danusha Goska is the author of God through Binoculars: A Hitchhiker at a Monastery.


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