“We are all more than the worst things we’ve ever done..” -Bryan Stevenson

by Lilliana Sandoval

“Confirm their Humanity, Confirm their Dignity”

In Bryan Stevenson’s talk on January 28th the basketball court was filled with people from campus and many guests out of town as well. He discussed his Equal Justice Initiative and their objective- how we can change the world and find solutions since there is a deficit of justice. Between reading his book Just Mercy and our trip to Montgomery, Alabama there was a lot of overlapping ideas. Yet also it gave me insight into his emotions regarding his work and his cases.The incarceration rates went up in the 1970’s and this led to many marginalized people being incarcerated. Often times those convicted were innocent or they were not in a good mental state to be convicted and placed on death row. This is why Stevenson discusses getting proximate to those who suffer. At this moment I began to wonder if those who suffer are technically proximate because either they themselves or their families have been affected by police brutality and being apart of a marginalized group?

Later on he discussed his inspiration, his grandmother, because she was a person of insight and great strength. When relating to her he discussed the importance of hugs and the impact that they have, when you hug someone who is suffering it affirms their humanity and dignity. Too often to people forget this, its such a small action but it has a great impact. Our society is governed by fear and anger , causing many to neglect those who need support the most and creating injustice Over time this has catalyzed the growth of a long history of racial injustice which is hardly talked about. So I must ask : what are you doing to be proximate? Are you treating others with the same dignity and respect you want in return? When was the last time you were uncomfortable in order to make a change?

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