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A letter to Michael Brown, on the 5th anniversary of his death

Helen Dannatt

August 2019

Dear Michael Orlandus Darrion Brown,

Something in me sank when I heard about your death on Aug 9th 2014. I cannot undo this tragedy but I could get off my duff and do my part to end racism. I’m grateful a friend recommended the Episcopal Diocese of Newark’s Anti-Racism Dialogs, which I attended. I have volunteered on the Namaste Commission since then.

This is not easy work. My white fragility is challenged, and rightly so. I am called on to examine my unconcious assumptions, my gut reactions, to look at my denial and defensiveness. I am invited to say unpopular things when I encounter bias, not easy for a recovering people-pleaser.

Why do I keep doing it? The relationships I have formed, especially with the other members of Namaste, are among the most authentic and secure I have experienced. These are interesting, passionate, inspiring people. I am learning and growing. It is an opportunity to demonstrate the love of Jesus. What more could I ask for?

I hope you are experiencing eternal joy and peace.

I pray for your mother, Lezley McSpadden.

May we be instruments of the highest good for all concerned.

Helen Dannatt
Christ Church, Newton NJ

Michael Brown, 18 years old, unarmed, was shot and killed by police officer Darren Wilson after an altercation in Ferguson, MO. The U.S. Department of Justice concluded that Wilson shot Brown in self-defense.

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