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Dear Andrea:

Sometimes, I wonder what to say to you. Even now. Even now, as I stare at a computer screen reading stories about your victory – the largest monetary settlement of its kind in Wisconsin history. Even now, as I read statements attributed to you in the public that sound poised and confident. Even now, as I am pensive about the future of this world.

Sometimes, I wonder what to say to you.

And when I wonder, my wondering leads me to try to tell you what hundreds of thousands of well-meaning people have already said to you without ceasing. Ad nauseam. I want to say you are strong beyond measure. I want to say the best is yet to come for you. I want to say that everything will be alright.

But quite frankly, those well-intentioned platitudes and Proverbs are inadequate to say, to you.

Because I have watched over you carefully for two years. I have listened to a very unforgiving public forget their manners – forget that your son was a child, was human, was your son. I listened as they stretched and contorted your son and his memory into a walking stereotype of an angry, marauding, dangerous black man.

I’ve watched as individuals with dubious intentions get close to you simply for their own interests, or to create confusion in your life.

I’ve watched your private struggle, your private hell. There were times when you would sit in your house alone shaking, rocking, weeping uncontrollably as you mourn and grieve the death of your son.

The platitudes are inadequate to say to you, because watching you, I have thought to myself that nothing is alright with what you have experienced.

Nobody is supposed to bury their child. Nobody should have to defend the integrity of their murdered son to Internet trolls and naysayers. Nobody should have to grieve for their son with one hand, and fight against the world with the other hand.

But you have. And every time I hear a slander against you, every time I see hateful word against your son, every time someone says there’s no possible way for you to carry on, you do.

You have found a way to stay on message for your son and your family. Even as the world is debating whether the settlement was fair, and what you’ll do with it.

You have remained poised when blinding rage was a more attractive option. You have remained loving when hate would have been an easier response. You have been measured on justice for your son and a lot of young people like him, for that matter.

There is something Godly inside of you. And for the past two years, you have reached onward and used this to carry on.

The settlement does little to ease your pain, and for you the work is just beginning.

And while even Jesus has a word and blessing for those who mourn like you, I will continue to wonder what to say to you. Now.

Written by Rev. David Hart

Rev. David Hart

Rev. David Hart is a pastor, attorney, and author living in Madison.

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