10 New Year’s Revolutions
by Kristina “KK” Kersey, Sr. Youth Defense Counsel
Hey, so that holiday break was . . . different. I spent New Year’s Eve doing shots of Pepto with flat ginger ale chasers—a bubble gum guts cocktail (TM pending)—after a truly regrettable, but unforgettable, chicken sandwich. Texting “Happy New Year! Great news, it’s only violent food poisoning, not omicron. xoxo” to friends and family was so on-brand, 2021.
Remember in the Before Times, when strangers kissed and swug (swigged?) from champagne bottles after each other? With their mouths? Their dirty, germy, unvaccinated mouths?
Resolutions are for people who haven’t been playing “virtual, virtual, quarantine” for close to two years. No, we will make revolutions.
1. Be more like Bishop Desmond TuTu
“I wish I could shut up, but I can’t, and I won’t.” Toss that one out the next time the judge and prosecutor try to cut you off in court.
2. Be more like Betty White
Live your life in such a way that if you die at 99, it is still too soon.
3. Be light Be lightning and thunder in the courtroom
Let them know you’re coming with your rumbling and then dazzle them with your strikes.
4. Declutter Clutter your prosecutor’s inbox
With motions, and “requests to be heard,” and follow up e-mails, and discovery demands, and reciprocal discovery, and mitigation information, and . . . .
5. Recite positive affirmations
What we need is awareness, we can’t get careless
You say what is this?
My beloved, let’s get down to business
Mental self-defensive fitness
(Yo) bum rush the show
You gotta go for what you know
To make everybody see, in order to fight the powers that be
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power!
We’ve got to fight the powers that be
“Fight the Power” by Public Enemy
6. Be more active . . . in your community
Public Defenders for Racial Justice, Baltimore Action Legal Team, Know Your Rights clinics, your state SAG. Be a positive and informed voice with the communities you serve.
7. Stop wasting time Start enjoying time
I watched so many “The Twilight Zone” episodes on New Year’s Day, I legitimately feared waking up with a pig nose.
8. Drink less Drink more
Water. Wa-ter. You can’t pour from a dry, dehydrated, ashy cup.
9. Be kind Be kinda a rebel
New year, same youth defenders. Who dis?
10. Lose weight Push your weight around
You’ve got the power! Like Eurodance group Snap! told us in 1990, before it starts gettin’, gettin’, gettin’ kinda hectic, which reform are you bringing to your jurisdiction?
Establishing a minimum age? Ending indiscriminate shackling? Eliminating fines and fees? Stopping the transfer of youth to adult court? Demanding defenders at interrogation? Creating youth defense specialization? Developing a holistic defense team? Addressing racial and ethnic disparities? Advocating for and holding yourself accountable to use youth-affirming language? Closing secure placement?
All of the above?!? (Ding! Ding! Ding!)
For me, I resolve to eat less chicken (::shudder::) and to be less chicken.
We have work to do and, much like my chicken sandwich, 2022 might be regrettable but also unforgettable.