Make a Right Turn
—Grace & Truth Linkup

School or Prison?

“All the children are not well.”

So says one of the children who is now grown.

Michael Phillips is about to share his story with the world on January 25. He’s written it down in his book, Wrong Lanes Have Right Turns: A Pardoned Man’s Escape from the School-to-Prison Pipeline and What We Can Do to Dismantle It.

In the book, Phillips tells about one Sunday morning when a guard pulled him out of his prison cell at age 19. He was taken by van to the judge’s chambers.

The judge looked at him and asked, “Do you want to go to jail, or do you want to go to college?”

Instead of going to prison as a drug dealer after breaking his leg in college and losing his scholarship, Phillips was being given a chance to make a U-turn.

And he took it. He chose college. 

Can We Make a U-Turn?

Now Phillips asks if we can be a society that makes a U-turn, too.

Are we willing to “to turn around toward a neighbor with a different story, toward a colleague with a different opinion, or toward an opponent with a different affiliation and see his humanity, our very lives lie hanging in the balance”?

One way Phillips suggests we do this is to “deal with race, trauma, and memory in education if we are going to uncouple our system from injustice.”

As a Black man, he says his own lived experiences in schooling negatively influenced how he came to see himself. “You cannot call me a threat my entire life and not expect me to become one.”

Phillips also gives us a broader look at some disturbing statistics.

“From 1989 to 2013, we spent six times more on jails than on higher education. The things that are right in front of us are often the hardest to see. On average the total cost per inmate is $33,274, and on average federal, state, and local governments spend $14,840 to educate a child.”

He suggests that when we invest more in criminal justice than we do in education, we might need to look deeper at our values.

It’s not easy to make a change, to make the next right turn. But if it’s true that “structural change cannot take place without individual action,” then we have to ask ourselves—are we willing to change as individuals to make structural change happen?

Michael Phillips made his change. He is now a leader in his community and currently serves as the chief engagement and fulfillment officer for the T.D. Jakes Foundation. He is the chairman of 50CAN and serves as a board member of KuriosEd.

If he can make change, so can we.

Featured Post—Stop the Negative Self-Talk

Michael Phillips had to change his self-talk to make his right turn.

So do we. Debbie helps us with this in our Featured Post this week.

Read all of Debbie’s post here at her blog, then link up your own blog posts below.


Do you struggle with negative self-talk, too? How do you combat it? Share your thoughts in the comments.

My thanks to NetGalley + WaterBrook
& Multnomah for the review copy of this book

I’m linking at these blog parties

1. Share 1 or 2 of your most recent CHRISTIAN LIVING posts. (No DIY, crafts, recipes, or inappropriate articles.) All links are randomly sorted.

2. Comment on 1 or 2 other links. Grace & Truth linkup encourages community.   

3. Every host features one entry from the previous week. To be featured, include this button or link back here on your post (mandatory to be featured, but not to participate).

Grace and Truth_Meet Hosts

We encourage you to follow our hosts on their blogs or social media.

MAREE DEE – Embracing the Unexpected
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LISA BURGESS – Lisa notes
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TAMMY KENNINGTON – Restoring hope. Pursuing peace.
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6 thoughts on “Make a Right Turn
—Grace & Truth Linkup

  1. Michele Morin

    I am so inspired by this story, and it gives me hope for so many of the kids I encounter in my days of subbing. As young as 4th grade, their life already seems to have FAIL written all over it, but God is not handcuffed, even by our poor choices.

  2. Debbie Wilson

    This story provides real hope in so many ways. I used to be a part of a ministry that ministers inside our local prison. When I’d ask how I could pray for the women who’d attended my Bible study, it’d break my heart to hear their concern for their own children and family members. Thankfully, many of these women found Christ and hope in prison and they wanted to reach their families with hope. And thanks for sharing my post! Knowing God loves us changes everything.

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