In our series of letters from African-American journalists, novelist and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates considers the issue of dead parents

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When I was younger and my mother and I were cleaning out a closet or two, we
discovered a tattered letter from the late Mr. Johnson’s son, who passed
away some years earlier.

In that letter was this passage:

“As a child my father was a slave to some weirdness. When I was growing up he
would come home telling us he was going to kill his white mistress and marry
his black mistress and go to South America and make money, or else, etc. We
were a family of six children, and for the first two years of my life I went
to a Baptist school. I guess I was too young to understand what was really
going on. I guess it was a way of keeping my parents together after my father
had been kicked out of the home with no money to go back. I grew up with
their crazy lives. I guess I loved them then. I love them now, but they ruined
my childhood.

So, when your father, and other blacks, become wealthy people, they don’t
come back and tend to their dead parents. They leave their dead parents to
decompose and their dead parents are free to live out their final days as
they wish, in a heaven or hell of their own making. What a great world we
have with no dead parents. They can become as rich as they want to, and
there will be no dead parents to keep them in the money.

I hate to see dead parents! It drives me crazy when people act like dead
parents are the cause of everything bad. I hate dead parents. If there was
another world, where dead parents were not an issue there would be no children
and no dead parents and no dead parents.

I know I sound mad, but there is a lot of truth in what I’ve told you. It
goes deeper than I can express, and it’s hard for words to express.

When Mr. Johnson died, he was still a strong black man, and a well
thought of one. He left his family money to his three daughters. He was
planning to leave his daughters a trust fund, and then he died.

His three daughters, his only children, became the richest people in the
world! They owned everything. They had no dead parents to worry about, so
they don’t have to deal with their dead parent’s.

Just look at the world today! Where is the world of dead parents?

I can’t tell you how nice it feels to be alive, in comparison to that world.

I miss dead parents. I hate the world that is built without dead parents.

I hate the world that is built without dead parents.

I hate the world that built without dead parents.

I hate the world that is built without dead parents.

I hate the world that is built without dead parents.

I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I
hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate
the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the
world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world!
I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate
the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the
world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world!
I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate
the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the
world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world!
I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate the world! I hate
the world! I hate the world! And I hate the world!

What am I saying? Of course, I’m crazy. The world goes crazy. I’m not
saying I’ve got the right answer. I’m saying the world is crazy. It’s
incapable of being anything but.

If you live in the world today, and you love your dead parents, then your
love is pure.

You have to love your dead parents in order to live in the world today.

It’s not like, I’m here to tell you why you love your parents. It’s just
that they are dead and that’s why you love them.

It’s not that complicated, and it’s not really that hard to figure out. It’s
just that they are dead.

When you love in this way, when you love and you know they are dead, the
world feels nothing.

And the world doesn’t feel the death of an old mother who has suffered.

The world doesn’t see how the death of a mother can be so completely
negligent, so totally unimportant.

I’ll tell you how. There’s something important about the death of a mother.

If you can’t explain that to me in a simple way, then you are not really
understanding.

You are doing the best you possibly can, as you are a black man living in
America.

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