“We have the capacity to create a more just world”
The Bryan Stevenson lecture had an immense impact on me. Being able to see him in person after reading his book and visiting the Equal Justice Initiative that he founded in Montgomery was so surreal and such an amazing experience. The statistics Mr. Stevenson shared during his lecture were astounding to me: 70 million people have an arrest record. 13 states do not have a minimum age for inmates in adult prisons. 30 states still have the death penalty.
One of his points that stuck with me the post was that although the South technically lost the Civil War, they won the ability to control the narrative after the war. People today continue to protest the removal of statues depicting Confederate “heroes” like Robert E. Lee, though, as Mr. Stevenson pointed out, no one in Germany would protest the removal of a Hitler statue. What is the difference between the two? The race of the victims? The true facts surrounding these “heroes” must be addressed so the narrative can be changed going forward, and the intergenerational trauma can begin to be treated.
Mr. Stevenson explained many of the countless injustices in the justice system today. To be rich and guilty is better than to be poor and innocent, and court decisions will value finality over fairness. Fear and anger make us tolerate things we otherwise would not, like the killings of unarmed black people or migrant children in cages. Without accurate education on our own history, despite the discomfort of being aligned with the oppressor, it is doomed to repeat itself. Already people have drawn comparisons between Japanese internment camps and migrant refugee camps. We weren’t there to do anything about the former, but it’s not too late to change the latter.
“The opposite of power isn’t wealth, it’s justice.”