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Office of Equity and Human Rights

Realizing Equity. Enhancing the City of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-4433

Fax: 503-823-4420

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

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Dante James' letter to City officials regarding Michael Brown Grand Jury Decision

November 25, 2014

Good morning,

I feel compelled to write a note to those of us who are more connected to the work of racial equity than others. Last night’s decision was, and remains, difficult for many reasons, not the least of which is that a young man lost his life, and another’s will be forever changed. My concern is the potential that was lost from the beginning of Michael Brown’s life. Potential unavailable because of the history and present day oppressions and systems that make life difficult for many young Black men. My concern is that Michael Brown is being born every day, into the same systems and oppressions that make life difficult. My concern is that being a Black man, purely in and of itself, causes fear. My concern is that this will be a moment in time, not a movement, not a watershed moment that mandates the deconstruction of a system that is racist. The outcomes, the statistics, the deaths, the imprisonment, the inequality and inequity….. their stories are incontrovertible. Yet they don’t seem to be enough. What will be enough? 

All of that said, I have to believe that the work I do, the work we all do, is making a difference. I must believe it or I can’t keep doing it. We have seen change here within the city structure and institution of the City of Portland. Small change is still change. Small change adds up to larger change.  You, we, are making a difference. I am grateful for the work you do. Thank you.


Dante J. James, Esq.