Conversations about Justice
Racism hasn’t left our country; it’s merely evolved over the years. “In America, nearly one out of every three black men in their twenties is in jail, or prison, on probation or parole, or otherwise under criminal justice control. Black men are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than white men. Without reform, it is estimated that 40% of the black male population in the State of Alabama will permanently lose the right to vote as a result of a criminal conviction.”
And as more and more African Americans lose their freedom to vote, they become increasingly unable to speak out against the institutional injustice against them.
To protect freedom for the whole world, we must commit ourselves first to our own hard conversations. Those of us who are not in jail have the freedom to dialogue about and vote on race issues; but that doesn’t mean we want to. There’s a reason this mass incarceration is rarely talked about. It’s not pretty. And it requires apologizing and compromising and most importantly, reconciliation.
But there’s hope in the fact that we aren’t alone in the dialogue. We as the whole world have agreed that human beings have the right to free speech. And that’s what we have declared together in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
I’d like to consider together the words of Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative:
I think if somebody tells a lie, they’re not just a liar. I think if somebody takes something that doesn’t belong to them, they’re not just a thief. I think even if you kill someone, you’re not just a killer. And because of that there’s this basic human dignity that must be respected by law. I also believe that in many parts of this country, and certainly in many parts of this globe, that the opposite of poverty is not wealth. I don’t believe that. I actually think, in too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.
Let’s talk about justice together.