I just stumbled upon this wonderful blog post titled Justice or Just Us?. It was written by Jakada Imani of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights.
I hadn’t yet seen Jakada’s blog when I wrote my own post immediately after the Oscar Grant verdict came in. In words more eloquent and arguments more cogent, Jakada reflects my sentiment about how best to address the unjust verdict.
Here Jakada speaks for me:
I have been an activist for far too long to think that sending someone to prison ever sets things right. Prison adds damage-to-damage and trauma-to-trauma. We don’t want prison to be the only option for young folks who make mistakes. Is it really the only answer for police who make mistakes?
And again here:
In all the media hype surrounding the trial and the cops vs. protester coverage, something is lost. That something is healing, transformative justice. How do we transform the system that recruited, trained and armed Mehserle and thousands just like him? How do we change the fact that police and civilians alike see young men of color as threatening? How do we build a powerful social movement and not just participate in one-off flash mobs?
I wish that these questions could be blared from loud speakers in all of our communities on a daily basis. They are so relevant and profound. Indeed my work is devoted to developing restorative and transformative ways to repair harm caused by violence and crime. While it is a heavy lift to be a prison abolitionist, honestly it is an even heavier one to be a proponent of restorative and transformative justice. Even some of my anti-prison activist friends can’t as they tell me often “wrap their brains around” these concepts.
And so the work goes on at organizations like mine and at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The current US Social Forum that just wrapped up in Detroit posited that “another world is possible.” This must be true.
Jakada ends with these beautiful words which I will appropriate for my own:
As we heal our society so that there can be true and transformative justice, I am reminded that there is just us- we are all we have. We must come together to find the answers and move forward with our heads held high and our commitment to real solutions always lighting our path.
Read Jakada’s entire blog post, you will not regret it!