Thoughts & Prayers: A Response to the Killing of Daunte Wright and the Incident Involving Caron Nazario (4/17/21)

TO: The Gonzaga Community
FROM: Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil., President
SUBJ: Thoughts & Prayers: A Response to the Killing of Daunte Wright and the Incident Involving Caron Nazario
DATE: April 16, 2021

In this past week, our nation has once again seen two very public incidents of violence against Black Americans. Twenty-year old Daunte Wright died tragically as the result of a fatal shot by a police officer on April 11 in Minneapolis – where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is currently underway – as well as the traumatizing treatment of U.S. Army 2 Lieutenant Caron Nazario in Virginia by a police officer at a traffic stop. Throughout this week, I have found myself grieving for the families of Mr. Wright, Lt. Nazario, and those within our community who are profoundly affected by these incidents. I, together with so many in this community, am committed to learning, doing better, and working alongside any/all to prevent these senseless tragedies from occurring.

We see increasing reports testifying to the deep impact these incidents have on the wellbeing and mental health of all communities, most especially people of color. Mental Health America describes racial trauma, or race-based traumatic stress (RBTS) as mental and emotional injury caused by encounters with racial bias and ethnic discrimination, racism, and hate crimes. The impact of this stress is real. Our Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities are suffering. They are exhausted by the stress of entering fearfully into public spaces, of explaining risks to their children, and of engaging in exhausting conversations with even well-meaning people who lack understanding and the inability to relate to their experience.

I do wish to ask that we keep Mr. Wright and Lieutenant Nazario, as well as their families and friends, in our thoughts and prayers.  I pray as well for those in law enforcement and everyone affected by these incidents and incidents like them.  I believe that keeping these in our thoughts and prayers is important, while recognizing these alone are not enough. Our Gonzaga community, based on our mission of dignity for all – must take heed of these incidents as motivation to persevere in our commitment to fight against racism and injustice.  Earlier this month, I shared changes in our structure and roles related to the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, made in response to the continual need for greater support in these efforts. Our university’s commitment to this work is unwavering. We together must and will continue to educate ourselves -- every student, faculty and staff member – regarding the devastating impact of racism; and to recognize, address, and stop the biases that lead to the horrible outcomes we are seeing across our nation, including the debilitating stress experienced by members of our own campus community.

I urge each of us to continue to learn more and do better. Courageous Conversations, the Productive Discomfort group, and a host of other offerings are available for meaningful discussion and growth. Many departments are taking a challenge together to read and discuss books related to racism – these are beneficial for personal development as well as our collective campus health.

  • Please explore resources available through the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at, where you can also find updates on the work of the Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and reports from our BIAS team.
  • Our Mission & Ministry team offers support for those who want to talk on an individual level. Visit the "Need to Talk” page to be connected.
  • As always, our Health & Wellbeing department offers counseling services and a variety of support opportunities through the Center for Cura Personalis.
  • The Ignatian Solidary Network provides Jesuit-minded prayers and resources specific to racial justice. Check out this Examen for White Allies and other items for thoughtful reflection here.

In closing, I share this prayer written by the Pax Christi Anti-Racism Team of the Sisters of Providence:

Create in us a new mind and heart that will enable us to see brothers and sisters in the faces of those divided by racial categories. Give us the grace and strength to rid ourselves of racial stereotypes that oppress some of us while providing entitlements to others.

Help us to create a Church and nation that embraces the hopes and fears of oppressed People of Color where we live, as well as those around the world. Heal your family God, and make us one with you, in union with our brother Jesus, and empowered by your Holy Spirit. Amen.