Reading my Facebook feed this morning, I saw a number of references to John Legend’s acceptance speech at the Oscars last night: Oscars 2015: John Legend Makes Slavery Comparison in Acceptance Speech
“We live in the most incarcerated country in the world,” Legend said. “There are more black men under correctional control today than there were under slavery in 1850.”
And PolitiFact was on Twitter, verifying that it was, in fact, true.
And there was a part of me inside screaming, “Yes! Those of us in drug policy reform have been trying to tell you things like this for years! Haven’t you been listening?”
It was a similar internal reaction to when there was massive public response to the police shooting (and subsequent police overreaction) in Ferguson, Missouri.
But I think it’s important to understand that moving a public discussion in a population of hundreds of millions with entrenched views and self-interests is like placing pebbles in the path of a glacier. It can be a painfully slow process at times, but it is essential to get that process started.
Sometimes it can seem like you’re making no progress at all. Yet those of us who have been working on it for years can see the dramatic difference if we step back and view the entire picture — how significantly our overall mass trajectory has been altered.
And that makes it worthwhile (while also pointing out that we cannot stop our efforts).