Shaun King: Last Week Was Brutal


Last week was a brutal week for bigotry and violence in America. From the horrific stabbing death of 18-year-old Nia Wilson to the shooting death of Frederick Taft to incident after incident of public racism, so many people reached out to me and told me it was just too much.


And it is too much. In a moment I have a few news stories I want to update you on, but for a moment I want to talk to you about self-care.


If you get a chance, I’d love for you to read a short book called Choosing to Cheat. You could literally read it in a day or two. Again, it’s called Choosing to Cheat by Andy Stanley.


But let me give you the quick lesson of the book. In your life, something always gets cheated. Always. It might be your physical health, your mental health, your essential relationships, your money, your education, your career. Every single day, something important in your life needed time and attention that it didn’t get – in other words, it got cheated. This is normal. All of us feel like we have more to do than we have time to do it.


But here’s the principle of the book. When you don’t choose what gets cheated in your life, life will choose for you, and it will often be the most essential, critical aspect of your life. If you don’t choose what gets cheated, the world will choose for you, something will get cheated, and it will normally be the thing you simply cannot afford to cheat.


So the primary principle of the book is this. Be an adult and make the choice. And when you do, you must prioritize your own self-care – particularly in these troubling times.


It’s why I love the Tom Joyner Cruise, the Family Reunion, why I love Essence Fest, it’s why I love our barber shops and beauty salons– sometimes you have to go to spaces that were designed with you in mind. And relax, and laugh, and decompress, and pamper yourself. Because this country will absolutely wear you out and if you don’t take care of yourself, this country has no intention of doing that for you.


Switching gears for a moment, I have a few quick updates I want to give you.


Not sure how many of you saw Jay Z’s Trayvon Martin documentary last night, but it was painful and powerful and really highlighted not just how one man murdered Trayvon Martin, but how the Stand Your Ground law, and the entire justice system failed Trayvon and his family. I’m glad his parents have had the opportunity here to tell this story for themselves.


Early yesterday morning, Congressman Ron Dellums, from Oakland, California passed away. He lived a long, powerful life, and will truly be missed. So many people on my timeline, particularly young people, but not just young people, admitted to me that they had never heard of him. His best work was really done before social media. He was a brilliant, fearless leader. He fought against Apartheid in South Africa for over 20 years and actually presented the very first anti-Apartheid bill in Congress all the way back in the early 70s. He loved Oakland and loved Black people without reservation or hesitation. After retiring from Congress he actually became Mayor of Oakland and after that served as a mentor and advisor and supporter to so many leaders.


Lastly, I want to share some great news out of Los Angeles. Some brilliant Black women, including Patrisse Cullors and Jasymne Cannick and Melina Abdullah, have been leading an effort to Reform LA’s criminal justice system. And yesterday, after months and months of brutally difficult work, turned in nearly 300,000 actual physical signatures to get a powerful new measure on the ballot in Los Angeles to reform the jails and the way local law enforcement goes about their business.


So many people talk about change, but these women are actually getting it done. Now, in 2020, their new measure will be on the ballot, and we can put our priorities to the test.


And here’s the thing – what they did was huge. Nothing like that had never been done in Los Angeles, but it hardly even made the local news. And people always ask me, “is Black Lives Matter dead” – are they even doing anything – and the answer is YES, but it doesn’t get the coverage it needs and deserves.


I tip my hat to these brilliant women, and all of their volunteers, including many from my own organization, Real Justice, who helped make this happen.


I’ve gotta run. I’m speaking at 12pm in Philadelphia at City Hall, and if you are in the area, or know somebody in Philly, let them know to come on out.




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