Like many of you, I have a lot on my mind this morning. I am so deeply disturbed by gun violence and mass shootings in this country. The thought that 17 families sent their children to school yesterday in Parkland, Florida – only for them to be shot and killed with an AR-15 assault rifle by a man who everybody in the school feared would one day do such a thing – the thought is just overwhelming.
Last night I wrote a tweet that ended up being the single most shared tweet in the United States for the whole day yesterday. It’s been shared nearly 70,000 times and here’s what it says:
The United States is not #1 in much.
Not education, not healthcare, not economic equality, none of that.
We’re #1 in mass shootings and mass incarceration. It’s not even close.
That’s where we lead. This is what we’re the best at.
And I want to pause right there for a moment and inject a thought. For several weeks now, I have planned on making an announcement this morning on a new project I am joining to help change the game in America’s crisis of police brutality and mass incarceration. And I’m still going to make the announcement, but as I woke up this morning at about 4am to prepare for the show, I had a revelation.
A primary reason we struggle to make a deep lasting impact on any particular issue in this country, including mass shootings, and gun violence, and police brutality, and all of the many different issues related to the crisis of mass incarceration, part of why we sincerely struggle to change, even though we have every tool and resource to change, is because our nation moves from crisis to crisis.
You might’ve heard me say it before, but I’ll say it again – in this country, in our own communities, it often feels like our house is on fire and when your house is on fire, it’s hard to focus on strategic plans and policies, when your house is on fire, it’s really, really hard to focus on the big picture, because of the emergency right in front of your face.
I had to say this, because as I travel the country, one of the questions I get over and over again is “Shaun, why does it seem like this country has a total inability to fix its worst problems?”
And I think the answer is three fold:
- I think we struggle to focus on any one problem long enough to craft meaningful solutions.
- I think we are coming to understand that many of our worst problems, including things like mass shootings and mass incarceration, stay where they are because they have very powerful, well-funded people and groups behind the scenes fighting to protect guns and prisons and police.
- Lastly, it’s sincerely a matter of will. Do we have the sheer force of will, the determination, to force hardcore solutions to our worst problems…do we have the will to force those solutions into existence?
Later today, on all of my social media platforms, I am going to announce my own answer to this. I have made the personal decision, that as far as my organizing and activism goes, I must narrow my focus in order to actually make a difference on the issues I care about most.
On Tuesday, I said that no single position in America matters more to criminal justice reform than our local prosecutor. In most cities we call that person the District Attorney. The United States has 2,400 elected prosecutors.
They are 95% white, 81% male, and only 1% of them are women of color.
And I am joining a group called the Real Justice PAC, which is a political organization, for us to change the game with district attorneys in every city in America.
And we’re starting in Dallas. I’ll be in Dallas next week, on the campus of Paul Quinn College, next Thursday evening, as we endorse our first candidate for 2018 – Judge Elizabeth Frizell – one of the most respected black judges in America – an amazing woman who has decided that she wants to reform the system from the inside out and give her life fighting mass incarceration and police brutality – not as an outsider, but as the future District Attorney of Dallas, Texas.
We’re running out of time so I want to close with the two quick thoughts.
- You are going to hear me talk a lot more about this in the days ahead here on the Tom Joyner Morning Show.
- If you follow me on social media or receive my email newsletter, I am going to break down all of the work of the Real Justice PAC later this afternoon and tell you how you can join and partner with our work.
Take care everybody!
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