Dismantling Racism: “You’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.”
- The Rev. Lisa M. Zaina
- Feb 11, 2016
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This week we take a break from our class. Beginning next week, we will begin discussion of Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. If you don’t have the time to read the book, there is a series known as “Books for Breakfast”. It is a short summary of Mr. Stevenson’s book. But, please consider reading the whole book, you won’t be sorry.
Also, even if you can’t read the book, please consider coming to the discussion. We plan to have discussions in groups of eight or so, with a leader for each group.
Below is one of my favorite parts of the book. Mr. Stevenson is referring to Rosa Parks in this piece.
“The first time I met Ms. Parks, I sat on Ms. Durr’s front porch in Old Cloverdale, a residential neighborhood in Montgomery, and I listened to the three women talk for two hours. Finally, after watching me listen for all that time, Ms. Parks turned to me and sweetly asked, “Now, Bryan, tell me who you are and what you’re doing.” I looked at Ms. Carr to see if I had permission to speak, and she smiled and nodded at me.
I then gave Ms. Parks my rap. “Yes, ma’am. Well, I have a law project called the Equal Justice Initiative, and we’re trying to help people on death row. We’re trying to stop the death penalty, actually. We’re trying to do something about prison conditions and excessive punishment. We want to free people who’ve been wrongly convicted. We want to end unfair sentences in criminal cases and stop racial bias in criminal justice. We’re trying to help the poor and do something about indigent defense and the fact that people don’t get the legal help they need. We’re trying to help people who are mentally ill. We’re trying to stop them from putting children in adult jails and prisons. We’re trying to do something about poverty and the hopelessness that dominates poor communities. We want to see more diversity in decision-making roles in the justice system. We’re trying to educate people about racial history and the need for racial justice. We’re trying to confront abuse of power by police and prosecutors—” I realized that I had gone on way too long, and I stopped abruptly. Ms. Parks, Ms. Carr, and Ms. Durr were all looking at me.
Ms. Parks leaned back, smiling. “Ooooh, honey, all that’s going to make you tired, tired, tired.” We all laughed. I looked down, a little embarrassed. Then Ms. Carr leaned forward and put her finger in my face and talked to me just like my grandmother used to talk to me. She said, “That’s why you’ve got to be brave, brave, brave.” All three women nodded in silent agreement and for just a little while they made me feel like a young prince.”