Bryan Stevenson: Changing the Narrative

Social Justice Warrior Bryan Stevenson spoke at Davidson in January of 2020. He provided us with four pieces of advice regarding how we should go about creating change, and this was the centerpiece of his lecture. 

  1. Get proximate to the problem
  2. Change the narrative
  3. Stay hopeful, even when it seems that all hope is lost.
  4. Be willing to face discomfort

I am interested in his second piece of advice, and this relates closely to the theme of truth. Our ancestors pointed to the Bible or to philosophy to create justifications for the maltreatment of certain races. Though we like to believe that these conceptual schemes are something of the past, they are very much still at play. Discriminatory practices have simply evolved and taken on less visible forms. The first step in solving this problem is recognizing that there is one. The practice of slavery has simply evolved into the mass incarceration of African Americans, the erecting of statues in name of confederate soldiers, and the existence of buildings named after plantation owners or leaders of the confederacy. We must tear down these buildings and statues and work to wither away at the foundational structures of society that continue to perpetuate inequality and discrimination.