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Open Letter To Brown University

Dear President Paxson & Professor Bogue,


I have reviewed the groundbreaking report on slavery and justice. While I agree with much of your institutional approach to addressing the Brown legacy in slavery, a hidden element of chattel slavery must be revisited: the long-term genetic consequences of slave breeding, specifically the spread of sickle cell disease.


Bantu farmers along the Niger River delta cultivated yam, plantain, and other culturally specific foods that managed sickle cell noninvasively, countering falciparum malaria. The slave trade disrupted this genetic journey toward environmental harmony, enriching the Brown family while undermining the sickle cell trait.


Despite James Brown's wealth accumulation through the transatlantic slave trade, our Brown family, entrenched in slavery's legacy, found themselves subjugated, unable to grasp the concept of plant, people and parasite co-evolution practiced by our Bantu Congo ancestors.


While I applaud Brown University for taking accountability for its role in crimes against humanity, there has been no mention of chattel slavery's breeding farms' impact on genetics, particularly sickle cell disease. James Baldwin's words remind us that history shapes our structure of life and society. This quote serves as a metaphor for understanding sickle cell's relationship to chattel slavery, as our lives are shaped by a molecular disease spread in bondage as livestock.


Brown's Center for Continuing Research on Slavery and Justice has ambitious goals, but there's ample space to address the inherited blood disorder remaining a legacy of the Brown family's intergenerational wealth-building enterprise.


What kind of justice work should we do now?


As a member of the sickle cell community, I propose a solution not yet covered in the groundbreaking Slavery and Justice Report. This solution explores Brown’s relationship to American slavery, focusing on land sovereignty and food justice principles.


In community,


Christen Brown

Creative Director

Creation of Society

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