Hey Laquan

Everybody’s talking about how the cop who murdered you just got convicted, and maybe that’s something, but I can’t stop looking at this photo of you, the one where you’re standing in a kitchen (your great-grandma, Goldie Hunter’s?) in a white v-neck t-shirt, your handsome face leaning slightly to the right. There’s so little about your life online, but there is a long piece in the Chicago Tribune from which to glean a few things, for example that plenty of people saw hopefulness and positive energy in you. These things are coming through in this picture of you. They say you felt stability in Goldie’s home—I see that too, I think, as well as the honesty and charisma your comrades cite. I find myself wishing I knew you in life, and wishing I could learn more about you, about what you loved and what your dreams, critiques, passions, displeasures were. From what I can find online you adored your little sister. Apparently you could make people laugh until they cried. When you were little you loved to give hugs, and they say your nickname was Bun Bun because you were chubby. In this kitchen pic, though, you’re slender and radiant. It’s a grainy cellphone shot, so I can’t see “Good Son” and “YOLO” on your left and right hands. In that Only Life you lived, State workers and others in the system mentioned more than once that they found you “resilient”—which turns out to mean “leaping back” in Latin—but I wonder if they understand now that there are some things the State throws at nonwhite kids that are impossible to leap back from, no matter how beloved you are, no matter how graceful you are in photographs. I’m thinking about you, Laquan Jahari McDonald. You deserved the world, which includes the right to live to eighteen and then on to eighty, and also includes the right to walk any damn place you desire. I’ll be saying your name. Sincerely, K

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10.2

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