By Kerra Bolton
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Elijah McClain.
Three of the latest names in a growing roll call of Black death by white police officers in the United States.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Whether or not you agree with initiatives calling for the divestment of funds in local police departments and investing that money in community agencies to deal with appropriate issues, the United States can still be a nation of laws while also being a safe place for all its citizens.
As Henry McClendon, a lifelong resident and community leader in Detroit said, “We don’t have a crime problem or an education problem; we have a relationship problem.”
Detroit is a pioneer among American cities in using restorative practices to repair harm, restore relationships and build social capital in nearly every sector. The city has done so at great effort and with the leadership of people like Henry, Alice Thompson, and Keisha Allen. They are featured in a new docuseries highlighting the pioneering, restorative practices work of Black civic leaders in Detroit.
DETROIT RISING: HOW THE MOTOR CITY BECOMES A RESTORATIVE CITY will have its virtual World Premiere on Tuesday, July 14, 2020 at 3 p.m. EDT.
The virtual launch of the series will feature a screening of two episodes followed by a conversation with the series’ protagonists, including members of law enforcement, the court system, clergy, and nonprofit sector.
“In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Detroit was among a handful of cities in the United States that didn’t experience an outbreak of violence,” Henry says. “When we embrace restorative practices, we can build community,” he continues. “We have hope as a result of the restorative practices we are employing. Never waste a crisis.”
REDRESSING CENTURIES OF HARM
The five-part docuseries that follows me as I witness the power and potency of restorative practices in Detroit’s classrooms, courts, and executive boardrooms.
Through restorative practices, the series’ protagonists are dismantling entrenched policies that foster distance and avoidance while simultaneously building an ecosystem of connection and community.
“What’s happening now is about redressing centuries of harm,” says Alice Thompson, CEO of Black Family Development Inc. (BFDI) Educational Services who is featured in the docuseries.
“In Detroit, we have all the right ingredients for strengthening relationships and community building,” she continues. “To make something like this happen, you need the mayor’s support, the support of the philanthropic and corporate sectors, the community and for everyone to come together around a single vision for Detroit.”
MAKING THE SERIES
The docuseries is executive produced by Restorative Practices pioneers Ted and Susan Wachtel, produced by me, and directed by award-winning restorative practices documentarian, Cassidy Friedman.
I believe the United States cannot have reconciliation without the reckoning. But a reckoning doesn’t have to be destructive. With restorative practices, you can have a “revolution by conversation.” You can hear someone else’s truth and allow yourself to heal and be changed by it.
DETROIT RISING gives parents, educators, and activists who are working toward transformative justice, on small and large scales, an adaptable blueprint for an approach that works.
“This is what healing looks like,” Ted says. “By sharing the powerful stories of self-determination coming out of Detroit.”
He continues, “I want to show people that we have a living model for how as Americans we can reshape our society. Through understanding, healing from harm, and igniting conversations about what practices can be adapted to create accountability and harmony in schools and communities across the U.S., and beyond.”