A couple weekends ago, I had the pleasure of co-hosting a “Leadership and Mentoring” brunch for midshipmen (students) of the United States Naval Academy and alumni. Throughout the morning, we shared nuggets of wisdom, words of affirmation, and lesson learned. When we opened the opportunity for questions and discussion, I observed one alumnae ask a group of midshipmen, “Who knows the difference between a mentor and a sponsor?”
These days of American cultural, political, and societal unrest has led to a lot of public conversations about individual rights, advocacy, solidarity, the use of one’s voice, power, policy, education, classism, and systemic structures and injustices.
I’m tired. Physically, spiritually, and emotionally exhausted from it all.
As an African American woman, none of these challenges or conversations are new to me. Given my education and professional background, it is quite normal to show up in spaces where I am the only or “few” (pick your minority group or diversity category) in a room filled with privileged white people. I don’t reference the latter group in a condescending fashion, just as a matter of fact. This reality is most noticed by me, and people who look like me, when there is a blindness to the lack of the “other”—diverse voices and presence, particularly among diverse, ethnic people groups—represented in a space.
The death sentence, and the heartbreak and devastation of this miscarriage of justice had created permanent injuries.
– Bryan Stevenson
Why I picked up this book:
I have wanted to read this book for some time now. As conversations about mass incarceration continue to increase—even in the church—I find that ignorance about this topic can lead to a poor choice of words, complacency, and the devaluing of lives of too many innocent people.
While I see human trafficking or modern-day slavery as a sin against humanity that needs confrontation both internationally and domestically. Immigration reform and mass incarceration are injustices that we must address at home.
Who Should Read Just Mercy:
Anyone who has a heart and ear to listen and learn.
What’s in Store for You:
This is a book of stories and with great depth. Bryan Stevenson is executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) (on Twitter) in Montgomery, Alabama, and a professor of law at New York University Law School. EJI is a nonprofit law center that is “dedicated to providing free, quality legal services to condemned men and women on death row in Alabama.” I first heard Mr. Stevenson speak a few years ago at the Justice Conference, and have continued to follow his work, interviews, and speeches online.
Just Mercy gives us the motivation behind Stevenson’s passion and his work. He is motivated by the fundamental truth about the value of every human life regardless of skin color or personal wealth. He has been changed by the lives and stories of real people, and compelled that when needed, these broken people didn’t have someone to call on for help.