Changing the World, Travel Adventures

One Year Later

A year has passed since my trip to Alabama. Thinking back on my mini Civil Rights Tour, I keep thinking about The National Memorial of Peace and Justice and being a little closer to such personal history.

It was humid. The type of humidity only experienced in the Deep South, where the sun shines boldly and unrelenting, as if sensing the rains and clouds would soon take over. But even with the promise of heat, I was looking forward to walking through the memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Filled with over 800 hanging corten steel monuments, each one represents a different county in the United States where racial terror took place in the form of lynching, listing the victims and the date they were killed between 1877-1950.

It’s a sobering memorial. Walking through was a mix of emotions – deep sadness for the atrocities committed against thousands (and untold numbers of the unknown victims), rage and anger for those who gleefully committed these crimes against men, women, and children…and pain, knowing the terror went on for so long and the repercussions we’re still dealing with as a people and country today.

My Dad hails from small town Louisiana and when I was there, I knew I had to search to see if the Parish he and my family was from had its own monument. 

It did. 

Listed were four names of men who were lynched, dating from 1898-1917.

I couldn’t help but wonder how it was for my family from those generations. Did one or more of my great grandparents know them or did they hear of the lynching? Did they mourn with the family members? Did they live in fear the weeks after each one, thinking how easily it could have been one of them instead of Charles, Edward, Thomas, or Marcel?

“To overcome racial inequality, we must confront our history.”

This slogan comes from the organization behind the Memorial, Equal Justice Initiative. Started by Bryan Stevenson, EJI does incredible and life altering work, including working with people who are unjustly and unfairly treated by our justice system and challenges the death penalty. 

At the Memorial you will find a plaque that reads: “At this memorial, we remember the thousands killed, the generations of black people terrorized, and the legacy of suffering and injustice that haunts us still. We also remember the countless victims whose deaths were not recorded in the news archives and cannot be documented, who are recognized solely in the mournful memories of those who loved them. We believe that telling the truth about the age of racial terror and reflecting together on this period and its legacy can lead to a more thoughtful and informed commitment to justice today. We hope this memorial will inspire individuals, communities, and this nation to claim our difficult history and commit to a just and peaceful future.”

I love that statement because it is a great reminder of why we need them.

To lament.

To grieve.

To remember.

To honor. 

Sometimes it feels like I (and I know many others) spend so much time doing the work of justice and peace that we don’t take the time to lament. Visiting the Memorial helped me do just that. Lament the evil that reigned in this country and terrorized my people. 

The Memorial also gave space to grieve. Grief for the loss of life from the day the first enslaved Black person was brought to this country to the men and women lost in a criminal justice system that, as Stevenson wrote in Just Mercy, works for the rich and guilty, not the poor and innocent. 

With so many names to read, The Memorial also provided space to remember so many lives lost. Generations later, their names are remembered because of a space like this. 

We can honor those lost by committing to living a life pursuing justice. Dr. Maya Angelou said: “History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage, need not be lived again.” 

May we live with courage. 

Changing the World

What’s Next? Policy Change

As I’ve been posting more on social media about race in America, I’ve had people reach out asking “what do I do next? How do we fix a problem so big?” I get it! It is often overwhelming, frustrating and feels too big to attack. But change can happen! One way is for policy change and keeping people accountable.

Here’s a starting list. I encourage you to look them up, see where your cities/counties/states line up, do your own research, and hold you political leaders accountable. Please remember this list is by no means exhaustive. There’s a lot of work to be done.

POLICY CHANGE

Police Accountability and Reform

  • Look up what policies your city has enacted to help decrease police violence. You can go here to read more about policies that help decrease police violence and where your city stands. Start a conversation with your city leaders about these policies.
  • Require Implicit Bias Training for officers
  • Instate body cameras
  • Public reporting that provides an annual report, including a disparity index. Having records and tracking things like vehicles stops and arrests, along with demographic information helps to reveal disparities and can hopefully help departments address the disparities. Here’s a valuable thread to read up more.

Criminal Justice Reform

There are incredible organizations out there doing this work. Equal Justice Initiative is one of my favorites. Learn more here.

  • End putting children in adult prisons: The U.S. is the only country in the world where kids as young as 13 have been sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
  • Support organizations who overturn wrongful convictions
  • Abolish private prisons: We should have a prison system that is rehabilitative and restorative, not one that profits off of mass incarceration.
  • End the Death Penalty: To quote Bryan Stevenson, “The question we need to ask about the death penalty in America is not whether someone deserves to die for a crime. The question is whether we deserve to kill.” This is also tied to wrongful convictions.

VOTING

Don’t just vote in the presidential elections, but vote locally. Mayors, school board members, district attorneys, etc are all major role players in what gets passed (from police accountability to programs helping lower income kids in school). Do the research of where your candidate stands on these issues.

EDUCATION

Continue on your personal journeys. Join groups like Be the Bridge (and read the book!). Read books like Just Mercy. If you are white, see the ways you’ve benefited from white privilege, uncover implicit bias, and find ways to use your privilege to help.

Changing the World, Love and Faith

I’m Tired

Artist Link: http://www.instagram.com/shirien.creates/

May has sucked. Yes, the pandemic, but that’s not really why. It’s because racial injustice in America is having some kind of day.

Ahmaud Arbery.
Breonna Taylor.
George Floyd.

How was this all in one month? All these stories out for the world to know about in four short weeks?

Not only is it horrific, exhausting, maddening, sad, and awful, but the silence of so many, especially fellow believers, is deafening.

DEAFENING.

Not one lament.
Not one tweet.
Not even a thought or a prayer.

(Yes, I know there are people who care, who aren’t or don’t post on social media. Of course I know that.)

Yet, when the pushback came, many of these same silent people had plenty to say about the riots that broke out. No one wants riots, but what does this tell me? They care more about inanimate things than human life.

I have plenty of more thoughts on this, but I’ll stick with someone y’all may have heard of:

(Please read more about the speech here. It was given in front of a predominately white audience. You can find the full speech here)

 

Please stop asking for “more context.” Please stop the whataboutisms or black on black crime. Please stop making excuses. Please stop saying “well, I have a Black friend.” Please stop. Just stop.

Weep and mourn with your fellow brothers and sisters. Then be moved to action.

Until the hard work of looking inside and looking at the history of America and race is done, people cannot fully understand all the dynamics of the protests or the “isolated” incidents that actually happen all the time, and change will never happen. It’s not a partisan issue.

Yes, pray. Pray, pray, pray, pray. Pray God changes hearts and that people’s eyes would open. But also do the work. Hard issues will never change without people doing the hard work. MLK Jr. (who was hated when he was alive by many in the church) and so many others absolutely prayed, but they also did work.

Read books.
Watch movies.
Follow voices of people who don’t look like you.

But please stop making excuses or ignoring the truth. Humans who are made in God’s image are dying because of racism.

That alone should be reason enough to stop, listen, and learn.

 

If you are wondering where to start, here’s a list of books and movies.

Changing the World

We Cannot Remain Silent

Apathy is what allows atrocities to happen.

I honestly don’t know how else to start this blog post, but as more reports came out over the past several days about the detention centers and the conditions innocent children are living in, I have been at a loss for words. I have felt completely helpless. Yes, I can tweet 24 hours straight, but what could I actually do to help these children right now? Detention centers turned away donations and children have been moved (to, as far as I know, unknown locations). I don’t have all the answers, but I can use my voice and my dollars to do something.

This isn’t about a political position. Right now I honestly don’t care where you stand on immigration. I would hope that no matter your feelings on immigration and asylum seekers, that you would be horrified by how these innocent children have been treated. Children have died. At the hands of our government. Nothing is worth that cost.

And when people have tried to legally seek asylum, they have been turned away. This happened to Oscar Alberto Martinez and his daughter Angie Valeria Martinez only a few days ago. Because they were turned away, they then had to cross the Rio Grande, only to be swept away. The photo of their bodies crushes you. My prayer is that anyone who sees this photo will be moved to action.

So here’s a list of places to donate and ways you can help. Also, if you aren’t familiar with what’s going on, please take some time to read up and educate yourself. Some links are below.

How to Help: Organizations to Donate To

World Relief: Our expertise gained in aid and development work gives us the ability to not only meet the immediate needs of the vulnerable, but implement programs that lead to sustainable growth and development—transforming once vulnerable regions into thriving communities.

Preemptive Love: Help Asylum Seekers at the Border. They fled some of the world’s worst violence. Their future is uncertain. Stand in the gap.

RAICES: Your support helps us continue our mission to help separated families, detained families, unaccompanied minors, and others who are seeking asylum in the United States.

Also, contact your Representatives and Senators. While we all try to figure out policy, we can do things now to provide support and relief.

There are several other lists out there and wanted to include those as well:

Resources to Learn More

Changing the World

What The Hate U Give Teaches Us About Replacing Otherness with Imago Dei

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas made its debut in 2017 and has become a pivotal novel for the times we’re in. And for very good reason. It’s a book that will hit you in the gut, all the while being inspired by the strength of the characters. Now it’s on the big screen, taking the viewer into a story that has become all to common, as names become Twitter hashtags and fill our news feeds. If you aren’t familiar with the book, here’s the description:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night?

And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

The title of the book comes from hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur and his iconic THUG LIFE tattoo. Contrary to popular (or better yet, uneducated) belief, the tattoo had a deeper meaning. The first part stood for THE HATE U GIVE and Tupac revealed it was a statement against the oppression shown to Black Americans that starts from a young age.

I highly recommend this movie and book (heads up, there’s language), as it has quite a bit to teach us about seeing Imago Dei in everyone. Here’s a few I wanted to share:

Let Us Listen.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…” James 1:19-20

Oh church, we have to be willing to stop and listen. Too often I hear “well I haven’t seen that” or “I don’t think this really happens,” etc., etc. If we don’t take the time to stop and listen to people (or only listen to one side), how can we truly learn? How can we seek out those who are hurting and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them? Be a brother or sister in Christ to them? How can we show the world this incredible joy and love we know and have, if we turn away from people? If we refuse to listen to what they have to say? There’s a scene in the book and movie (minor spoiler), where one of Starr’s closest friends stops being her friend. She no longer responds to text messages, she unfollows her on Tumblr and when Starr calls her out on it, she quickly puts it back on Starr (saying she doesn’t know who she is anymore) and walks out. In the book we see Starr’s other friend, Maya, come clean: “She’s lying…that’s not why she unfollowed you. She said she didn’t wanna see that…on her dashboard. All the ‘black stuff’, she called it. The petitions. The Black Panther pictures. That post on those four little girls who were killed in that church…”

We must listen, even when it makes us uncomfortable. Listening to a person’s pain is more important than our comfort.

Don’t be Colorblind.
God created every single shade we all are. So see a person’s color, celebrate it, and be willing to hear how their lives might be different from yours because of it. One of the significant lines from Starr is when she tells her boyfriend Chris, who is white, “If you don’t see my blackness, you don’t see me.”

Humans aren’t Issues, They’re People. People made in God’s Image.
Whether we’re talking about racism in America, immigration, refugees, or any other social issue, when we see and or use terms like “them/they” or only see the issue, we cut out and ignore the humanity every person on this planet carries. When someone’s life is only an issue, it’s easy to ignore.

Church, this isn’t Jesus.

When we move from seeing people as fellow human beings and instead see them as categories or issues we don’t agree with/understand or “them,” we lose. We lose the chance to show love. We lose the chance to be a witness. We lose the chance to be light in an increasingly dark world. How can we make an impact if we instantly categorize people who don’t fit in our worldview or share our life experiences? We also lose the chance to meet incredible people and friends.

We can’t let political affiliations become the Christians standard. Jesus is neither Republican nor Democrat. As believers, we cannot live and die by a political party. We live & die by the Gospel. Otherwise we lose sight of our most important calling – to love people. That’s the Gospel.

I learned that from Jesus. He constantly walked and ministered to “the others” the religious considered dirty and ones to avoid. Whether that was the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5-13), the Samaritan woman (John 4), the adulterous woman (John 8:1-11), or countless others who encountered Jesus.

It is our duty to open our ears and hearts and hear their cry. It is our duty to show the world the Light we follow. It is that Light Who will break chains, change hearts, and make a lasting impact that will echo throughout eternity.

It isn’t easy, it isn’t comfortable and it forces people to take a hard look at where their heart is, BUT when we do, we see each other as God wants us to.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2-3

Changing the World, Travel Adventures

Under Our Skin Forum | A Recap

Last week I was in Tampa, FL (who quickly reminded me that I’m cool without humidity) for the Under Our Skin Forum. Based off of Benjamin Watson’s book of the same name and put on by Tyndale (excellent job friends!), it was a night with big names, but all together for a bigger purpose. As you can imagine, it’s a hard topic, but everyone shared openly and honestly and what an encouraging night.

I left the night filled with hope. These past weeks (months really) have grieved my soul, but while it won’t be an easy road and battle, our hope is in Jesus and His power to change lives. And that gives me hope. To keep fighting for justice and to keep shinning light in the darkness.

The Church, this is our time. We can make an impact on culture and show the way unity looks. We don’t have to pick sides and corners, as Benjamin pointed out, we can be in the middle. We can live in the tension of both sides. Things don’t have to be either/or in what grieves us, what we support, etc. We can support things on each side. More importantly, it needs to be that way.

There were so many excellent points, wisdom and thoughts shared. I’m thankful for Twitter, so I could stalk what other people posted since I didn’t take notes. Here’s a few quotes:

“In so many ways it seems like the American Church has slowly white-washed the Gospel. Case in point, you’d be hard-pressed to find a nativity scene around Christmas where Mary isn’t a Caucasian woman with silky brown hair. There are going to be an incredible number of Jesus-worshipping, faith-filled individuals who are going to be SHOCKED when they step into the Kingdom of Heaven and realize the man seated at the right hand of God the Father is a homeless middle eastern refugee. The one we worship is a man of color. The Gospel is a rich narrative of color, race, social class, ages, and demographics invited into the same story and redeemed fully at the same cross. Our commissioning is to bring Heaven to Earth in our time here, and we can’t effectively do that if we don’t understand that Heaven is a deeply colorful, language-saturated, diverse and beautiful place where we all stand before the same King as equal creatures made in His image and unified in His grace.” Mo Isom

“If one member suffers, every single members suffers…we see our country right now, we see the pain going on, whether that’s particular demographic, a particular place. If you wake up with a splitting headache or if you’ve ever slammed your finger in a door, the first thing your body does, your physical body, is it rallies to that point of pain. It doesn’t pontificate, it doesn’t rationalize, it doesn’t say, I’m waiting for more facts. It simply says, I’m going to respond. When we weep with those who weep, I think that’s a sign of a highly functioning body. We’re spending too much time rationalizing. It’s Jesus weeping at the tomb.” Ben Sciacca

“Lord help me chose the harder right, not the easier wrong.” West Point Cadet Prayer

“The game plan for racism is in Bible- James 2:14. We need to break the huddle and run the play.” James Brown

“Just do what the Lord says to do, it’s simple, but it’s not always easy.” Tony Dungy

“Christ in you can destroy both the myth of superiority & the myth of inferiority.” Benjamin Watson

There’s so much more and the video is available to watch, if you want to find out more. Just go here.

Also, here’s a list of the panel, if you want to follow them.
Benjamin Watson
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
James Brown
Website | Facebook | Twitter
J. Kevin Butcher
WebsiteTwitter
Tony Dungy
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Charlie Strong
Warrick Dunn
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Mo Isom
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Ben Sciacca
Website | Twitter
Danny Wuerffel
Website | Twitter | Instagram
Sage Steele (Moderator)
Twitter | Instagram

Coach!

With Benjamin Watson (and yes, I’m still sad he doesn’t play for the Saints)

If y’all don’t know Mo Isom, change that quickly!

Unity is possible internet! Warrick Dunn played for the Falcons (and Bucs) and is part owner of the Falcons. Did I mention my loyalties lie with the Saints? OF COURSE I DID. 🙂

Changing the World

Why I Won’t Remain Silent About Racial Reconciliation

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Benjamin Franklin

I believe we are called, as believers, to reach out and fight for the marginalized and against injustice. Not only from around the world, but also those in our own society and culture. I know it can be touchy, it makes many defensive and is a hard topic, but we absolutely need to continue to educate ourselves on these topics and examine our hearts and continue to be the voice (and peace) of Jesus. When we stay silent, I believe we lose some of our witness and miss out on seeing God work in incredible ways.

It will come as no surprise that I’ve been burdened by what is happening in America right now. It’s a dark time for many people.

A couple months back there was a video that went viral and I decided to post it on Facebook (when it’s something closely connected to political views, I always pray before posting. It’s far too easy to post in anger and I don’t ever want to do that). It’s disturbing for lots of reasons, including this one quote that received a standing ovation and the Nazi salute: “America was, until this past generation, a white country, designed for ourselves and our posterity. It is our creation, it is our inheritance and it belongs to us.” (You can see the full video here), but I was surprised by some of the reactions. Instead of denouncing the video (which most people did), there was the “well this has been around forever, so…” as if that was enough reason not to call it out and stand against it. There were also comments that I was spreading hate by posting the video. I was genuinely confused as to how calling out hate was instead inciting hate.

Another recent news story was that of the hung jury from the Walter Scott Case. The trial for the officer who was caught on tape shooting an unarmed man running away ended in a hung jury. Sometimes I don’t even have the words, so I’ll steal them from this article written by Steven Hale of the Washington Post.

“Still, this case had video footage of a police officer calmly raising his gun, carefully taking aim and firing multiple rounds into the back of a fleeing, unarmed man and then handcuffing him as he lay on the ground. Former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager claimed that he was in “total fear” during a struggle between the two men and that Scott had grabbed his Taser. But he was captured on video placing his Taser next to Scott’s lifeless body after the shooting.

One must wonder: What detail could be added to make Slager look more guilty of Scott’s murder — or at the very least, of manslaughter, an option that was available to the jury?”

My parents were in town visiting for Thanksgiving and we had many conversations about this (We also watched 13th, which I highly recommend). I asked my Dad about his experiences when he was in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s and how did he not lose hope? (He had to sit in the back of the bus, use “Colored Only” entrances and all the things you hear about. This isn’t something from the distant past. This is my Dad, only one generation before me). As MLK Jr. once said, it’s not the blatant racists who impede progress of moving forward, but instead those who are indifferent. My Dad shared about continuing to fight for what’s right and now that he is a Christian, also praying for the hearts of people and justice. It’s both.

I do not understand the justification, the brush off and the complete denial that our racial history doesn’t have deep impacts on our society today. I don’t get a lot of things about this, but most especially the silence. If we’re not talking about it in a loving manner, then the opposite side is only going to get louder. (Also, please read Just Mercy. Please.)

“Love is the motive, but justice is the instrument.” Reinhold Niebuhr

But as always, the Lord is good and He gave me a word.

“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

God doesn’t ask us to sit back and be silent about the things that matter. He did not make me timid (I don’t have to rely on my own strength. Yes and amen. “He makes us strong, brave, and unafraid”*) He gave me power (The Greek word dunamis means “miraculous power, might, strength”*), He gave me self-discipline (so I don’t become a loud unhelpful voice) and most importantly He gave me love, which covers all things.

And that is what I’ll continue to move forward in. The Gospel is true and God promises His Word won’t return empty, so I hold onto that and keep on fighting for justice. As Walter Brueggemann once said, Justice is “the re-ordering of social life and social power so that the weak may live a life of dignity, security, and well-being.”

Ann Voskamp (in a podcast with Jamie Ivey that y’all should definitely listen to it here) said something that stuck with me as she was talking about the Church and her new book, The Broken Way. She said that “we are the Esther generation.” An oh how we are – we are called for such a time as this. To care for the orphans, the widows, the refugee, our brothers and sisters who fear for their lives.

We can and need to be the light in this darkness.

“And [God] has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:19‬

“We must learn to live together as brothers or we will perish together as fools.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

I’ll end with this:

*From Liz Curtis Higgs’ 31 Verses To Write On Your Heart, page 43.

Book Wisdom, Changing the World

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson | Book Review

Bringing up issues remotely related to politics is always a tricky situation. It’s hard. It isn’t easy. But, my call to be the light is far more powerful than the fear of anything else.

Because I believe story is powerful and if we aren’t willing to talk about these stories, especially as believers, we are missing out on being leaders and light to the world.

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” Benjamin Franklin

So with that, I present a book I will recommend to anyone and everyone. You know those books that light, stir or blast full flames onto an already existing fire? This is one such book. I’ll warn you, a lot of this book doesn’t leave you with warm fuzzy feelings, but instead lots of anger at injustice. (And if you read it and it doesn’t, then that’s another conversation for us to have)

But.

This is a story too important not to tell, to read and to pass along because there is good and hope in this world.

“Love is the motive, but justice is the instrument.” Reinhold Niebuhr

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

The story itself will captive your attention, with Stevenson deftly weaving history, the case and other important stories. The story of Walter McMillian feels like a novel, that it couldn’t possibly have happened how it did, but this story was true and you’ll be inspired by the work and hope that comes from Stevenson. There’s a lot of work to be done, but stories like this encourage to keep moving forward and fighting the good fight.

When blatant corruption exists, mentally ill aren’t given treatment (and instead jailed), when states can legally try 13 year olds as adults and give them life in prison without parole (example, by 2010, “Florida had sentenced more than a hundred children to life imprisonment without parole for non-homicide offenses, several of whom were thirteen years old at the time of the crime. All of the youngest condemned children – thirteen or fourteen years of ago – were black and Latino. Florida had the largest population in the world of children condemned to die in prison for non-homicides.”), there is something desperately and morally wrong.

“Our brokenness is also the source of our common humanity, the basis of our shared search for comfort, meaning, and healing. Our shared vulnerability and imperfection nurtures and sustains our capacity for compassion.” Thomas Merton

Here’s a few more quotes:

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”

“My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice.”

“The true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”

“It’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent – strong enough to break the cycle of victimization and victimhood, retribution and suffering.”

“We have to reform a system of criminal justice that continues to treat people better if they are rich and guilty than if they are poor and innocent.”

And in case you’re wondering if I’m exaggerating at how important/excellent this book is, here’s a quick list of the awards won:

  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • Named one of the Best Books of the Year by: The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, Esquire, Time
  • Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the NAACP Image Award for Nonfiction
  • Winner of a Books for a Better Life Award
  • Finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize
  • Finalist for the Kirkus Reviews Prize
  • An American Library Association Notable Book

Also, if you’re interested in checking out more, here’s the link to the Equal Justice Initiative.

What’s a recent book (either nonfiction or fiction) that had a dramatic impact on you?

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads