May 4th was a day I'd been anticipating for some time. That was the day Assistant Attorney General Karol Mason, who heads the Office of Justice Programs in the Department of Justice, publicly announced a new agency-wide policy directing her staff to stop using "disparaging labels" like "ex-convict" and "ex-felon" in all their communications.
We are at a crisis in our country whenever a trained adult with authorization to use deadly force deploys it on a 12 year old with impunity. Wherever the fault lies, the only way any hope in the police force or the governing process can be restored is for wholesale condemnation of the officer's actions.
Talking about race isn't easy. It's personal, it's political, it's visceral. That these were two of the most hotly anticipated and talked-about books of the year only underscores the power of literature to provide a window into this most difficult of subjects. Here are twelve books that have changed the way we talk about race in America.
The Odyssey Project, now in its fifth year, is using the arts to combat recidivism for juvenile offenders in a completely unprecedented way: by creating an arts-based "intervention" at that critical point near the end of a juvenile offender's teen years, when, like Odysseus, they have life choices to make that will indelibly determine their future's path.
If you live in Baltimore, or anywhere in the United States, you shouldn't be surprised by the anger, the poverty, the police violence, and the hopelessness. All you have to do is sing the national anthem, written after witnessing the bombardment of Baltimore Harbor by the British during the War of 1812.
Rather than approaching crime from the perspective of restorative justice and public health, seeking to help people to reform and re-integrate, our country has instead not only continued in a model of punishment that can only be described as "medieval", but has grown it to a scale unprecedented in world history.