I believe that circles can be a powerful space in which Americans can build trust and connection with one another, affirm their core values and enhance their understanding of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia and other forces that are deployed to tear our communities apart. Perhaps most importantly, circles can also be a space in which we learn how to take action to counter these forces and foster a culture of belonging in the communities where we live and work.
Community member and practitioner Chiquita S. Williams reflects on restorative justice as a way forward in the aftermath of the Uvalde shooting.
What I saw and experienced during my upbringing instilled a lot of fear in my bones that I carried around with me into adulthood. When I encountered Restorative Justice, I was just scratching the surface of my personal healing journey. Sharing the restorative practices I learned was like a balm to my soul.
I’m out here trying to change the world, and watching my family disintegrate right in front of me. Maybe if I hadn’t spent so much time on Zoom, maybe if I spent more time visiting his room…. No one can save you but yourself, and when you live in a world without hope, it’s not crazy to lean into a life of coping. We cope with the pain, mask it or numb it, pretend it’s not there, forget with intention–because we’ve forgotten how to heal.
In the spring of 2004, Mayor Bloomberg had recently established mini police stations in a handful of schools and a couple of high profile incidents involving NYPD’s over-extension of their authority in schools had just occurred.