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Zach Norris, We Keep Us Safe at Bookshop Santa Cruz

March 24, 2020 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm PDT


ookshop Santa Cruz and the NAACP of Santa Cruz County welcome Zach Norris, executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, for a discussion and signing of his new book, We Keep Us Safe: Building Secure, Just, and Inclusive Communities—a groundbreaking new vision for public safety that overturns more than 200 years of fear-based discrimination, othering, and punishment.

As the effects of aggressive policing and mass incarceration harm historically marginalized communities and tear families apart, how do we define safety? In a time when the most powerful institutions in the United States are embracing the repressive and racist systems that keep many communities struggling and in fear, we need to reimagine what safety means. Community leader and lawyer Zach Norris lays out a radical way to shift the conversation about public safety away from fear and punishment and toward growth and support systems for our families and communities. In order to truly be safe, we are going to have to dismantle our mentality of Us vs. Them. By bridging the divides and building relationships with one another, we can dedicate ourselves to strategic, smart investments–meaning resources directed toward our stability and well-being, like healthcare and housing, education and living-wage jobs. This is where real safety begins.

We Keep Us Safe is a blueprint of how to hold people accountable while still holding them in community. The result reinstates full humanity and agency for everyone who has been dehumanized and traumatized, so they can participate fully in life, in society, and in the fabric of our democracy.

Zach Norris is the executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, which creates campaigns related to civic engagement, violence prevention, juvenile justice, and police brutality, with a goal of shifting economic resources away from prisons and punishment and towards economic opportunity. He is also the cofounder of Restore Oakland and Justice for Families, both of which focus on the power of community action. He graduated from Harvard and took his law degree from New York University. Connect with him @ZachWNorris.

“Bright, talented, compassionate, strategic, and committed . . . Norris’s insights and story will be an enormously important contribution in the effort to advance human rights in this country.” —Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy

“In We Keep Us Safe, Norris masterfully captures our deep yearning for connection and compassion as we navigate the complex issue of accountability and reminds us of our humanity and that we have a choice to do things differently. Even more encouraging, Norris invites us to tap into our resourcefulness and to rely on one another to challenge the failed experiment of the current punitive carceral state and reimagine safety and accountability together. We deserve to live in our full dignity and power and Norris, through this book, shows us how.” —Patrisse Cullors, author of When They Call You a Terrorist

“Zach Norris [is] among the most promising leaders and thinkers of our time, wrestling with pressing questions at the intersection of racial and economic justice from a human rights perspective. . . . We Keep Us Safe powerfully demonstrates that safety, freedom, and justice come from relationships, resources, and real accountability–not more punishment, police, and prisons.” —Michelle Alexander

“In his excellent new book, Zach Norris writes with insight, inspiring stories, and a vision that includes everyone–just what we need to move from fear to caring, and from a system of punishment to one of transformative justice. We Keep Us Safe identifies the roots of our fear, insecurity and vulnerability, offers a way forward together, and provides practical, workable strategies for public policy change. Reading this book will alter the way you understand safety, security, and justice. We so need the caring, fierceness, and insight Norris brings us in these challenging times.” —Paul Kivel, educator, activist, and author of Uprooting Racism: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice


March 24, 2020
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm PDT
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Bookshop Santa Cruz
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Bookshop Santa Cruz
1520 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz , CA 95060 United States
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