Upper Schoolers Confront Issues of Equality & Justice
Upper Schoolers and faculty gathered virtually for a program entitled “Acknowledgement, Commitment, Transformation” on Thursday, November 19. The event was sponsored by the Brunswick Trust; Diversity in Action; and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion team.
Angus Manion ’21 began the morning by introducing a documentary on Walter McMillan — a Black man who spent six years on death row after being wrongfully convicted of murder — and asking participants to consider the words of Bryan Stevenson, McMillan’s attorney, as the boys followed McMillan’s story to freedom.
“Fear and anger is what gave rise to the wrongful conviction of Walter McMillian. It’s what allowed institutions to turn their back on fair and just treatment. We are living at a time where, in too many communities, our system treats you better if you are rich and guilty than if you are poor and innocent,” Stevenson said.
“There is a presumption of dangerousness and guilt that gets assigned to some people — Black people, brown people, people who are different — and to combat this we need a community of people who are just willing to talk about what justice requires.”
Ali Hindy ’21 followed by introducing two accomplished equal-justice lawyers — Stan Germán and Aimee Carlisle — who both earned J.D.s from New York University School of Law.
Germán serves as co-chair of the Defense Function Committee for the American Bar Association and chairperson of the American Council of Chief Defenders, also serving on the Board of Directors for the Chief Defenders Association of New York, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and New York County Defender Services.
Carlisle is a senior attorney at the Bronx Defenders — a public-defender nonprofit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the justice system and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself.
Both Germán and Carlisle encouraged students to consider whether our criminal justice system is, in fact, achieving justice — and made a compelling argument that many of our legal policies are not supported by legitimate data. They also highlighted the issues of mass incarceration in the United States, bail reform, and “stop-and-frisk” practices.
Jamie Hesser ’21 and Nikitas Handrinos ’22 concluded the program by providing each advisory with questions for discussion about ways to move forward — especially as students of Brunswick School.
· What are the next action steps for the Brunswick community? · What are personal action steps you may consider?
“We all agree that education is an extremely important starting point in combating injustice,” one advisory noted. “And we need to ensure that all are treated equally within our community — with a focus on personal interactions and experiences, rather than statistics and charts.
“We need to respect all viewpoints, even if we don’t necessarily agree, and emphasize developing empathy for everyone at Brunswick and beyond.”