The Facts Just the Facts, Please
In the current political environment, fighting misinformation with unbiased education is critical for our society. Sharon McMahon, host of the “Sharon Says So” podcast, is leading the way for a fact revolution. Have you heard of the hundreds of thousands of #Governerds, Sharon’s followers who learn only truth and logic in her classes and podcasts? She has a website, as well as being on Instagram and Facebook, and Twitter. She has won many awards and been on television. She was on Trevor Noah’s Tonight Show, which caught my eye.
Sharon Says So and the #Governerds
I took a roundabout route to taking classes from Sharon Says So. A few years ago, I read Circumstantial Evidence: Death, Life, and Justice in a Southern Town by Peter Earley. (Midwest Book Reviews) I wanted to know more about Bryan Stevenson, and then read his book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (recently adapted as a major motion picture). Later, I learned the #governernds were reading Just Mercy and having a Zoom author Q and A with Bryan Stevenson as part of the @sharonsaysso book club. Everything came together and I guess I am now a #governerd. The final draw for me to be involved was to see Bryan Stevenson’s discussion, which was last night. It was excellent. Maybe not all the book club selections have author talks, and it was very lucky that Stevenson agreed to participate. His time is very valuable.
Bryan Stevenson is the founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit organization. Under his leadership, EJI has won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing. Stevenson has initiated major new anti-poverty and anti-discrimination efforts that challenge inequality. He is also a Professor of Law at the New York University School of Law. He has received over 40 honorary doctoral degrees, and is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Government.
Hope is a Super Power
Sharon McMahon asked questions representative of the hundreds she received from book club members. There were about 3600 people at the Zoom event! One question dealt with how Stevenson maintains hope. He said hopelessness is the enemy of injustice. He employs people who demonstrate hopeful attitudes, and even some of his former clients. He stated that hope is a super power.
One way he connects with clients who are waiting for court dates or even sitting on death row is through books. First, he gets books based on the interests of the person, moving to more advanced topics such as justice and the human struggle. They discuss the books. He feels reading is able to show people what it can mean to be free.
In the 1970’s the jail population increased. He says jails are mainly punitive and some people are there due to mental illness which is not addressed. To help our communities, we can be smarter on crime, not tougher on crime. Jail should be reserved for those who are a danger to society. The high cost of keeping someone locked up for years because of things like stealing a bicycle must be addressed differently, if only for economic reasons. The rich are treated differently than the poor, and we have a racial hierarchy. Black and brown people have a presumption of being guilty and or dangerous.
Statistics show one of nine people on death row are innocent. Correcting racial injustice would help prevent such errors. He says even our Constitution did not address the indigenous. Interestingly, he said the north won the Civil War, but the South won the narrative war. I had never heard that before, and it certainly seems true.
To move to an era of truth and justice we cannot accept injustice. For profit prisons make money only when full which encourages putting people in jail for economic reasons. Prisons should be about public safety, not profit. He feels we should be proactive about stopping crime before it starts by giving vulnerable people the support they need such as mental health resources and sensible gun laws.
McMahon asked what his family was like for those wanting to raise children to be like him. He said they were hopeful, hardworking, read books, had an Encyclopedia, and were visionaries of a better world. Good to know for the next generation.
What the Average Person Can Do to Help
At the end, what average people can do to help improve our society was discussed. He stressed being proximate as it is hard to hate people close up when we learn about their lives. We need to be hopeful. We should vote not for those tough on crime spreading fear and hate, but for those who want to help prevent problems by offering help. We need to learn who judges are and understand our local politics instead of ignoring such matters. He asked if we knew our local district attorney’s name. We can change the narrative by talking together, and showing we care.
Thank you for reading, Carolyn