Knowledge of Self: Identity at Risk

Discussions about the justice system in the US can’t proceed without looking at the human rights of the justice system. Without looking inside ourselves by acknowledging and owning our history, our identity as a country is unfulfilled, at risk.

In this powerful TED talk, Bryan Stevenson talks about the justice system through the lens of civil rights.


Today in Racial Injustice: Lynching of Willie Earl(click to learn more at

Without looking inside ourselves by acknowledging and owning our history, our identity as a country is unfulfilled, at risk. This knowledge of our history and needing it to move on is a consistent theme with Baldwin, and was partly the genesis for this series of posts.

Ta-nehisi Coates also comes to this point during the Case for Reparations, where the reparations is more about the sheer acknowledgment of our shared tragedy, than it is about money.

For a soundtrack to help you think about these issues, listen to Black star‘s song Knowledge of Self: Determination 

Knowledge of self is like (life after death)

With that you never worry about your last breath

Death comes, that’s how I’m livin’, it’s the next days

The flesh goes underground, the book of life, flip the page

Yo they askin’ me how old, we (livin’ the same age)

I feel the rage of a million niggas (locked inside a cage)

At exactly which point do you start to realize

That (life without knowledge is death in disguise?)

That’s why, knowledge of self is like life after death

Apply it, to your life, let destiny manifest

In thinking through these issues, we need to focus again on racism when it comes to activism and how it is perceived. This article, Black Riot, examines how riots and those who riot are treated completely differently based on their race, with different principles being applied:

But for the darker skinned (Africans and Blacks in the Diaspora), the violence of a few always represents the actions of the whole.

Activity: If you are financially able, please consider making a donation to EJI, the Chicago Community Bond Fund, or another organization of your choice at the intersection of racism and the legal system. Bonus round: Once you’ve donated, post a link to the donation page on your social media and with a statement about why you decided to donate.

Also, add EJI on Twitter  and Facebook and support the work that they do. Share the things you learn and start conversations about these issues.

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