Mondays with Mike: Where to start

June 22, 2015 • Posted in Mike Knezovich, Mondays with Mike, Uncategorized by

Here in Chicago, the past week started with elation over the Blackhawks winning their third Stanley Cup in six years. But the elation was later  tempered by the news out of South Carolina.

There are lot of people doing good work, including Bryan Stevenson and EJI.

There are lot of people doing good work, including Bryan Stevenson and EJI.

I have lots to say about it, too much really, and I’ve found over the past few days that others have said these things better than I can. Charlie Pierce hit several nails on the head with this piece for Esquire. And this post called, “Yes, you’re a racist, and a traitor,” hit several more (thanks to the Beachwood Reporter for the link). Give them a read–they were cathartic for me.

But, what to do? Some of the things I’d like to do, out of anger, I’d best keep to myself. And I think, in the end, if I did them, however righteous it’d feel at the moment, I’d only feel regret afterward.

Instead, I’ve resolved to:

Increase my support for the Equal Justice Initiative.

This group, founded and led by a brilliant attorney named Bryan Stevenson takes on the cases of people who are wrongly convicted or charged with crimes, and of people who can’t otherwise afford effective representation. EJI has been effective at winning cases, but also at shedding light on how racism persists, and how our past plays an insidious role in our present.

EJI also does research, and recently released a report on the history of lynching in the United States, and it’s effectiveness as a tool of terror. While I’m at it, I think I’ll renew my support of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been doing important and difficult work since 1971.

Support one or more gun control organizations.

There’s been a piece of information about the Charleston horror that I haven’t been able to track down. Some accounts say that the coward’s father bought him the gun. Others say that the coward’s parents gave him the money, and that the coward bought the gun himself. Still other reports indicated that the coward had an arrest record. Which leads me to think that if he did purchase the gun, and we had background checks, he would’ve been stopped. We’ll never stop this stuff entirely, but we can certainly reduce the number of incidents with some common sense measures.

There are lots of worthy organizations out there, local, state and national. Here’s an easy way to find them: Go to the NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s Web site, and you’ll find a list of anti-gun organizations that they’ve assembled. It’s kind of chilling, because they include organizations like AARP and the MacArthur Foundation. Such is the NRA paranoia. But on the other hand, you realize there are a lot of people and organizations that have some sense on this issue. I’m going to pick one or two of them.

Oh, and this idea certainly has merit.

It’s not a lot. But it’s a start. And only a start. We have a lot of work to do.



Lori On June 22, 2015 at 8:56 am

I appreciate your call to donate to organizations like the SPLC. Their work is very important and I am relieved that someone is tracking hate groups and injustices and defending those who need it.

And that last suggestion about celebrating the defeat of the Confederacy gave me a little joy on this Monday morning. Having lived in the South for a couple of years during grad school, I was exposed to the spirit of the mourning that still goes on over the loss. It’s an odd thing as we in the North don’t even think about it. It isn’t part of the discussion really. So, the idea of this holiday might actually make people reflect on what happened 150 years ago and where things have and have not changed.

Mike On June 22, 2015 at 9:41 am

I lived in Northern Virginia in the early 80s, which is hardly the Deep South. But it came as a surprise to me that highways were named for Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. lt’s like we never had real closure on that war, and we’re still fighting it.

Brad On June 22, 2015 at 1:25 pm

What a wealth of enlightened references you gave in your well-thought-out blog today, Mike. All of them were worth reading and thinking about. Thanks.

Mike On June 23, 2015 at 9:11 am

Columbia grad! Of course.

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