Conference to Restore Humanity! 2022: Keynote, Harvest Collegiate Circle Keepers - Transformative Justice

Chris McNutt
July 26, 2022
A transcript of our third keynote at Conference to Restore Humanity! 2022 with the Harvest Collegiate Circle Keepers.

The following is a transcription of a speech by the Harvest Collegiate Circle Keepers on July 26th, 2022 on transformative justice. The video can be accessed on YouTube.

Opening Remarks

0:00:07.5 Chris McNutt: Hello, and welcome to our third and final flipped keynote session at our conference. As a reminder, our keynote today will be followed by a Q and A panel session on Thursday, July 28th at 11:00 AM Eastern. As always I want to let you know that this conference and presentation is directly supported by Floop, the feedback driven learning platform and rethinking schools and city light books assistant in marketing. Further we are thankful for our supporters at Human Restoration Project for allowing us to continually serve this community. After Giroux and Jones's keynote I can say with confidence that the following presentation perfectly illustrates a conference that restores humanity. The Harvest Collegiate Circle Keepers are a youth-led restorative justice program, abolishing the school to prison pipeline toward collective liberation.

0:00:58.6 CM: They are a group of high school students from Harvest Collegiate high school in New York city who work through conflicts together in a whole school program. And in this keynote, you'll see how they react in conflicts and move through them. Committing to restorative practices from simple conflicts to complex issues like white supremacy, racism, sexism, homophobia, and racism. They believe that youth voice is an integral, not only for communication, accountability, and insight, but most importantly for achieving true justice for all. The group is organized by Restorative Justice coordinator, Martin Urbach. If you wanna learn more what practice actually looks like, Well, here it is. Within this keynote, you'll see the powerful work that youth can do together. And you'll see just how difficult this work is as young people work many additional hours each week to ensure everyone can thrive.


Student Interviews: What is Restorative Justice?

0:01:46.6 Speaker 2: Hello, everybody. Welcome to our Harvest Collegiate high school's first educational podcast. We are the 10th grade circle keepers, and today we will be discussing restorative justice and how it's implemented in our role in the school. Our first question is what is restorative justice, Maria? [chuckle] You got it. Perfect.

0:02:06.1 Speaker 3: Hi, I'm Maria. I use she/her pronouns and restorative justice is a way to repair... Is a form to repair harm and to avoid any future harm where the offender and the victim are brought together to try to come up with a solution.

0:02:27.9 S2: So, the next question is what is a fairness, Hanne?

0:02:39.4 Speaker 4: Hi, my name's Hanne, my pronouns are he/him and what a fairness is, is when two or more students have a conflict we bring them to the circle keepers room and we sit on the round table where we hear how the conflict started and we try... And we hear both sides of the story, and we try to see how we could resolve the conflict in the peaceful-est way possible. Anything you'd like to add, Ron?

0:03:04.9 Speaker 5: Like Hanne said, a fairness is are a very complicated situation. It can control more than two people. It can be a teacher and a student, and sometimes it doesn't end the best, but then there are other times where it ends very peacefully, and two people come together.

0:03:25.2 S2: Yeah. And I think that a fairness is just a great way that we are practicing restorative justice, especially since we're trying to restore the harm and build that better communication and build better relationships. It really helps people to harness their way of moving through healthy conflict and dealing with it in the best way possible. Okay. So the next question is how does restorative justice work in a high school? Nick.

How Does Restorative Justice Work in High School?

0:03:53.3 Speaker 6: Hi, I'm Nick. And restorative justice works in high school by restoring harm that's been done to the community and by... It restores conflict by helping the two parties in the conflict come to an understanding and in an agreement about the conflict so it doesn't happen again.

What is a Fairness?

0:04:15.3 S2: That was cool. So, Boja, What is a fairness?

0:04:18.6 Speaker 7: Okay, so a fairness is a process of dialogue and conversation. And it focuses on repairing harm between teachers and teachers, students and teachers, and students and students. So there are a lot of steps and things that are included. So do you wanna talk about some steps?

0:04:33.0 S6: Sure.

0:04:33.3 Speaker 8: It starts with the introduction and the supervisor introduces the group and explains the basic ground rules including openness, following protocol and confidentiality. The facilitator gives an overview of the protocol and there is a taker who is the person who called for the fairness and they explain what happened and why they feel like it affected them or harmed them. And then the take-in, who's the person that was brought to the fairness explains their side of the story. And then the panel, maybe multiple people, has a facilitator, co-facilitators, they ask questions about what happened to try to come to some sort of consensus about what restorative action should be taken and why the taker feels harmed and how to fix the... Resolve the issue. All members of the fairness must come to a consensus about what restorative actions are appropriate and this might be a structured apology, research projects, community service, but it most importantly has to have changed behavior towards the community.

0:05:45.8 S2: Now how do we prepare to facilitate fairnesses Boja?

0:05:50.0 S7: Okay. So usually the way that we prepare to facilitate fairnesses usually involves prepping taker and take-in. So we'll talk to the taker, usually if it's like a teacher, we'll tell them what... Why are you bringing them here, what is involved? And we'll talk to the take-in and kind of see their side of the story. And then we usually just like send out... Logistically, we send out a blue calendar alert and make sure all the facilitators in the meeting know what it's about, know what's going to happen and kind of just do a run down. So usually preparing a fairness just involves letting everyone who's participating in it, know why we are here and what is possible solve.

Mock Fairness for Cutting Class

0:06:36.9 Speaker 9: Ready?

0:06:38.5 S2: Yeah. Hi, welcome to our mock fairness, today we will be doing a fairness between a teacher and two students, about these two students that aren't in the classroom and are roaming the halls, and not up to date on their schoolwork. Sarah will be playing the teacher and Brianna and Tyrone will be playing the students. And Nico is going to start off the fairness with the norms.

0:07:04.4 Speaker 10: So for our fairness is a phone free zone. So put your phones away. Keep confidentiality, so don't talk about what happens sort of outside of the circle, and just be open and honest and just be open to what other people are saying.

0:07:19.6 S2: We also will be using the talking piece and just make sure that you're using I statements instead of saying, like, "You did this." and such. So, yeah. Okay. So, first we're gonna start off with the teacher point of view and then I'll let you two speak.

0:07:36.4 Speaker 11: So yeah, I've prioritize this fairness because I feel disrespected when, anybody goes out in the hall and doesn't come back or, yeah, and I care about you guys's education and I just feel like disrespected. Yeah.

0:07:56.6 S2: Please.

0:07:57.0 CM: Only one mic.

0:07:57.8 S2: Yeah, one mic when you're, when you don't have the talking piece, just stay quiet. Continue. Okay, okay. So, I'll do say back. Okay. So what I'm hearing Sarah say is that she feels really disrespected when you guys don't come back to class and she really cares about your education. So you're ruining it by being in the hallway all the time and not keeping up with your work. How do you guys feel? You go first.

0:08:30.5 S2: There you go.

0:08:32.1 S2: Okay. Go first. You could go through.

0:08:36.0 S2: The question is, basically how do you feel about, or why are you in the hallway so much? Why aren't you up to date on your work? Do you understand how your teacher's feeling about you?

0:08:47.8 Speaker 12: Oh, alright. So the reason why I'm in the hallway so much because the class like sometimes I get bored, and I just go to the toilet.

0:09:00.5 S2: Okay. Do you understand like what your teacher is saying and how it may affect her?

0:09:07.0 S1: Yeah.

0:09:07.9 S2: Okay.

0:09:12.7 Speaker 13: I'm in a hallway because it's hard for me to focus in class when just all like people are talking and then I get distracted and just walk out.

0:09:22.2 S2: Yes.

0:09:23.8 S2: Okay. So what I'm hearing you two say is, one that Tyrone feels like the class may get boring for him. So he likes to be in the hallway as like a distraction and like just something that can, I guess, entertain him. And what I'm hearing Brianna say is that sometimes she needs a break and when she takes those breaks, she ends up being distracted by her friends that are also in the hallway. So that tends for her not to be coming back to class.

0:09:52.6 S1: So maybe from what I'm hearing, Sarah, could you talk about maybe why your class might be boring, and how you can get help...

0:10:00.5 S2: Okay. A better way of saying that is like, could you find, or do you see how Tyrone may feel like bored in your class or do you think that there's any way you can work with him so that he wants to be in your class?

0:10:19.5 S1: Yeah, I do. I do get that like, school isn't always like super fun all the time. But I do wanna make it fun for you guys. If you guys do feel super bored, I wanna make it less boring. And I also just wanna make sure I give you guys breaks, but hopefully you respect those breaks and come back so we can get back to class. But yeah, we can discuss, you guys can talk about things that can make the class more fun.

0:10:47.2 S2: Okay. So yeah. We can hear how you guys, may think like the or how you think the class could improve so that you're more interested in what's going on and also like from you Bri, maybe like she wants to give you those breaks, but, as you said, like those breaks tend to you being out in the hallway longer than expected. So how is she able to give you that, but also know that you're gonna come back to do your work, which means you wanna start first. Okay great.

0:11:23.5 S2: Bri. Please start, please start.

0:11:25.2 S1: I don't know the question.

0:11:26.4 S2: I just asked you, how... Okay. So I asked you, your teacher said that she wants to give you breaks, but as you said, you don't come back when you're given those breaks. So how can you, or what will help you stay in class and also be able to get like a five minute break?

0:11:46.5 S1: I can not move around for my breaks, like I can stay in front of the class, so I don't run into my friends.

0:11:52.9 S2: Okay. Are you also feeling like, do you also feel like your class...

0:12:00.2 S1: Is boring?

0:12:00.9 S2: Yeah.

0:12:01.2 S1: Yeah.

0:12:02.4 S2: Okay. So, both of you are saying that so pass it to Tyrone and I want to hear, like, what do you think can help you make the class more fun?

0:12:17.2 S1: What do you want from the class?

0:12:18.2 S2: What do you want from the class to make it...

0:12:18.4 S1: To make it more fun.

0:12:19.7 S2: Like, make you feel engaged?

0:12:22.7 S1: Well, ask the teacher that, I mean, you just gotta like do active projects. I'd say projects.

0:12:29.5 S2: So more engaging projects, hands on.

0:12:33.6 S1: Moving around, so I don't need as many breaks.

0:12:37.4 S2: Okay. So, now that we've talked about it as like to why you guys are in the hallway so much and like why your work isn't getting done and I'm hearing that you guys are feeling bored in your classes and you're being distracted, because you're in the hallways with friends and you should be in class. So what do you think could be a good restorative action to you guys being in class more and, being engaged in your work?

0:13:12.9 S1: I mean, for me on my part, I'll communicate with you guys more and take it... Your ideas into account when assigned projects and assign... And sort of assignment to make it a little bit more fun.

0:13:25.5 S2: Do you guys agree with that?

0:13:28.2 S1: Yeah.

0:13:28.4 S2: Are you okay with that? Okay, great. So the restorative action that we have decided is that your teacher will communicate more with you guys, try and understand you more and maybe incorporate some more engaging and moving around activities so that you guys are engaged in your work and interested. Okay, good.

Why Do We Do This Work?

0:13:52.1 Speaker 14: My question. I'm not sure if I introduced myself, my name is Ryan. She, her pronouns, is why do we do this work? I think the main reason why us as Circle Keepers do this work is just because we have a love for our community and a love for building our community and helping out other people. We can see the impact and maybe like the fails that we go through as Circle Keepers. But ultimately we can see that those real moments where, most of the time we see when people are actually listening to what we have to say and really opening themselves to the process of restorative justice. And we're just seeing better forms of communication and some kids that have done horrible with communication in the past. We're learning more about ourselves and other people, and we're just doing all this work so that we can see it in our school and see it in other schools and working so that everyone has the opportunity to have this in their school. Like Amber said, we're trying to move away from the zero tolerance policy and move towards understanding and really talking to these kids.

0:15:06.9 S2: Okay. Danny, if you were to give advice to students that don't have access to RJ in their schools, what would you tell them?

0:15:15.5 Speaker 15: Yeah. Hi, my name is Daniela. Pronouns She, her and to students who don't have RJ in their schools and some advice I would give them would just be, if you have a conflict and you know, you want to resolve it, go to that person personally, talk it out with them, tell them how you feel, hear them out about how they feel and just think of ways that could better the situation. If you truly don't want to keep contact or, further resolve it then okay, leave it be. But I would just say, have patience, be sympathetic and think about how everyone feels in that situation and how it's affecting everyone else outside of you guys. So yeah, just have a lot of patience and sympathy for everyone.

Impact of Gossip Restorative Justice Circle

0:16:04.0 S1: Welcome everyone. Today we'll be doing the understanding the impacts of gossip circle. I'm your facilitator Daniela pronoun she, her and we'll go around introducing ourselves.

0:16:12.6 S2: Hi, I'm Maria, she, her.

0:16:13.4 Speaker 16: I'm John Aaron, he, him.

0:16:13.9 Speaker 17: I'm Tyler, she, her.

0:16:15.1 Speaker 18: I'm Ness, she, her.

0:16:20.3 S1: So I'll be asking a series of questions and you must answer honestly, and just give your input. So the first question is, Why do people gossip?

0:16:31.4 S1: I think people gossip because it gives them a sense that they have secrets or information about others and it makes them feel powerful.

0:16:40.4 S2: Yeah. I definitely agree with Ness. I just feel like, I don't know, I wouldn't say like a coping mechanism or something, but like, I would just say it's just fun to do in a group.

0:16:48.7 S1: I feel like when people gossip, I don't think they know they're gossiping until they're, I guess, called out on it. So yes.

0:17:03.7 S2: I think people gossip when they are so bored.

0:17:03.8 S1: I would say people gossip as a sense of like message power and, it's just like, it's something to talk about, something new happening in school rather than you just always doing work. So news, news is always something fun for kids. The second question is what are the differences between spreading rumors and gossiping?

0:17:24.6 S1: Gossiping is talking about someone or like a lot of people and rumors is spreading false information.

0:17:32.9 S1: Yes. I definitely agree. Rumors is definitely spreading false information about a person that's definitely not true and gossiping is to talking and spreading the news about what is true.

0:17:45.3 S1: I feel like they can both be the same, depending on who you asking and the kind of the situation 'cause spreading rumors is kind of the same thing of kind of just gossip. It's just a game of telephone that you tell many people. So yeah.

0:18:02.5 S2: I think, rumors this is when you spread, when you make up something you're not very sure of and gossiping is when you are telling other people about something else that you are sure of, it's about someone else.

0:18:20.0 S1: Yeah, definitely we basically said what rumors and gossiping is so we'll move on to the third question. What are the differences between spreading oh, it's the same thing. Nevermind. You could cut that part, Martin.

0:18:33.4 S?: Safe and secure.

0:18:34.8 S1: The final question is how do you think, rumors affect the person that's involved?

0:18:43.0 S1: It could definitely be like really like damaging. It can also lead people to like depression and suicide. And I just feel like it's really messed up 'cause most of the rumors and gossip usually happens from someone you thought you were good friends with. So you also like feel betrayed.

0:19:02.2 S2: Yeah. I definitely feel like it brings down their character and it makes them feel some type of way as a person. And it makes them like rethink who they are. And sometimes, it like changes people, like the way they do things after their, they heard rumors about them and stuff. Yeah.

0:19:19.2 S1: I feel like how gossip affects a person who is involved in it, it makes people look at them differently. Makes people feel uneasy around them. It kind of creates tension around those two people or whoever's involved. So yeah.

0:19:32.6 S1: I think gossiping really affects someone mentally because they start to... Well, like Ness said, feel betrayed and they're not sure who they can trust and then they start to feel alone. And then, yeah.

0:19:47.9 S1: Similar to what everyone's saying spreading rumors about someone can affect them in many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally. It kind of gives them a sense that you can't necessarily go around school without people thinking differently of you than they used to think. It does really attack the mental 'cause it's like, dang, I have all these people against me. How am I supposed to prove them when it's all these people against one? So it definitely affects them in any situation, any advice.

Difference Between Restorative and Punitive Justice

0:20:18.4 Speaker 19: So Amber, what are some differences between restorative justice and punitive justice?

0:20:23.6 Speaker 20: The difference between punitive and restorative justice is that punitive justice there's only a victim and a perpetrator and there's no room to really talk about it. Rather with restorative justice, you'll come face to face with the person you have harmed and there's room to redeem yourself. Ness, what is a mediation?

0:20:41.9 S1: Mediation can be structured in different ways, depending on the mediation. So for example, at Harvest, we do facilitative mediation, which is basically like fairnesses. And we also do mentor mediation, which is like students counseling other students.

Mentorship Meets Mediation

0:20:57.6 S2: Like, have you ever fought in school? Like, what's your history with that?

0:21:06.1 Speaker 21: I never fought nobody like ever people just like running their mouth to me, but never want to like start like, oh, like they start an issue, but they never like wanna throw hands.

0:21:19.3 Speaker 22: Shania fought in school. She also got transferred from a school to this school because she got into a fight.

0:21:23.3 S2: I got into four flights in my old school. It's crazy but of course I won because I'm like that, but I definitely did bitches on the floor...

[overlapping conversation]

0:21:38.7 Speaker 23: Okay. Amy, when you were saying that they were running their mouth, then they never fought, they were running their mouth, that's considered beefing. So how did that situation happen and how did it escalate?

0:21:52.9 S2: No Names.

0:21:53.7 S2: People would just like they'll argue over social media and it's like you're really arguing with yourself. 'Cause I would never open the message. Like if you're beefing with me in person and we're going back and forth then, but you're beefing over internet. I'm not gonna text you back. I'm not gonna give you the time of day to argue back with me. You gonna text me, I be like, "K", you gonna text me, I'm gonna be like, okay, I'm just not gonna be back with you on the internet. I'll be back with you in person, but not over the internet. Never that.

0:22:14.9 S2: So, you're saying people, you're saying if people will like fight with you, but.

0:22:19.6 S2: People have the most energy on the internet than in person.

0:22:23.5 S2: But you said that fighting doesn't solve problems? What do you think solve problems? At the end of the day, what's gonna solve the problems?

0:22:28.1 S2: Nothing. Nothing. Once you have beef with somebody, you have beef with somebody, you can't stop the beef unless, unless y'all both come to a communication like a, you know...

0:22:36.8 S2: So Sarah, have you ever had a fairness not go as well as you would like it to?

0:22:43.6 S2: Yeah. Basically the guidelines that you were talking about were not followed by the two people there. It wasn't taken seriously by them and they were using their phones and just kind of being disrespectful in general and you could really tell that they weren't engaged with any of the prompts or the questions they were asked. And yeah, it was basically just like disrespect and they didn't wanna be there. You could tell you they didn't want to be there.

0:23:08.3 Speaker 24: Alexis. What are the qualities that it takes to be a young restorative justice leader?

0:23:13.6 Speaker 25: It takes a strong individual who can easily connect with people and make conversation with anyone. The qualities a strong restorative justice leader has our creativity awareness and knowledge and understanding. And of course a sense of humor.

0:23:27.9 S2: Thank you, Alexis. What is something that you like the most about being a young restorative justice leader in our school?

0:23:34.9 S2: I love that I can find people who I can easily connect with and make conversation with. And they make me feel like I belong in a space.

How Does RJ Compare to Western Criminal Justice?

0:23:47.9 Speaker 26: As a group, we read the first chapter of the little book of RJ by Howard Zehr called An Overview. What I learned was that the Western legal system has profoundly shaped our thinking about these issues within the criminal justice system, the Western legal criminal justice system had its important strengths, but also its failures. People often felt that the justice didn't adequately meet their needs. And within those people as say victims, offenders and community members and justice professionals that were actually doing this work, restorative justice was an attempt to address some of the needs and limitations that they couldn't meet. And it was considered a sign of hope and direction for the future within the criminal violence that was happening, restorative approaches were available in the most severe forms of criminal violence, such as assault, rape, and even murder. The approaches of restorative justice has been able to reach schools, workplaces, and religious institutions. The Western legal system has replaced a traditional justice with an alternative. Oh, sorry. Yeah. Has replaced and or...

0:25:00.2 S2: Has the alternative of restorative justice to traditional justice and restorative justice has been the framework for thinking about wrongdoings.

0:25:08.3 S2: And also I read that in this little book of restorative justice, he kind of starts it off somewhere with what restorative justice isn't because there are a lot of misconceptions about it. So the first key point that I took away is that restorative justice is not primarily about forgiveness or reconciliation. A lot of times people think that to engage in a restorative justice act, you have to apologize, or there has to be some sort of formal structural apology. And that's simply not true. Even though that can be how things end, there's no pressure to choose or forgive or seek reconciliation. So the next point that I took away, about restorative justice is not mediation, mediation is restorative justice or is a form of restorative justice and we say that because a lot of the times, people connotate mediations with a level playing field and simply just conversing.

0:26:00.1 S2: But in reality, it can be for more intense situations such as burglaries or rape. And that's why we don't say that RJ is just mediations. Another key point that took away is that restorative justice isn't just about minor offenses or things that are like small, like taking a candy from the baby. It can be for big things like Ryan was talking about burglaries, rapes, domestic violence. And the last thing that I wanna touch on is that victim's needs should be addressed in restorative justice and offenders should be encouraged to take responsibility so that harm can be repaired.

0:26:37.1 Speaker 27: To add on to Ryan, I read about how the Western criminal justice system doesn't address the needs of the victims and has legal limitations and victims need to be able to heal and have more of an understanding of the offender. And they need to be able to heal from trauma that they have experienced, otherwise the system is just failing and this is why restorative justice needs to be implemented into the criminal justice system. Restorative justice isn't a replacement for the criminal justice system. There will still be prison sentences, but it is an alternative to be able to heal and have better understanding of victims and offenders.

0:27:18.8 Speaker 28: So my takeaway was more about, when he talks about the offender's side of restorative justice, because restorative justice does not just cater to the victim, but also caters to people who have done harm, the offenders and growth and accountability. Usually the actions taken are punitive and it's more centered around alienation, taking the problem away, literally ignoring the problem and taking it away from this situation. And he talks about how this doesn't help anybody. It literally just ignores the problem. And if restorative justice has brought an awareness of the limits and negative byproducts of punishment and real accountability involves facing up to what the person has done instead of just taking them away from the problem.

0:28:04.5 Speaker 29: I would like to add onto what Sarah said that when you involve a community into the work of RJ, the community itself gets better and the work of RJ gets better. Judges say that it's better when you take away the state from works when involved with an offender and an offended because the community members get to be involved and get to put in their point of views of what's going on at their communities.

0:28:28.4 Speaker 30: The third principles are a set of common rules that help you write your wrongdoings. They help you make amends with the people that you have harmed and built community, and they let you come face to face with the person you've harmed so that you can redeem yourself. And it also implies how you are willing to help your community.

0:28:47.1 S1: I feel like restorative justice definitely... The only way that it can work is if you give the person time. 'Cause I feel like in the moment, you'll say whatever to make that person feel bad, like how you feel bad. But if a person gets time to think about what they did and or even time to talk with the other person about the problem, a solution can be resolved and things can change.

Navajo Justice Concepts

0:29:13.6 S2: Hi Daniella. Today, we're gonna be talking about Robert Yazzie's article from 1994 called "Life Comes from It", and that's around the Navajo Justice Concepts. So the Navajo Justice Concepts speak a lot about vertical justice systems as opposed to horizontal justice systems. How would you define the concept of the vertical justice system?

0:29:39.0 S1: The vertical justice system is basically a system where there's someone at the top. Usually the judge when it comes to the criminal justice system and everyone under them has to follow as they say, it's a very... It's a hierarchy. So if you have the top role, that's you, you're at the top, you command everyone. And it basically goes by levels. So you usually have like attorneys under and the jury under them and the people who are at the bottom, like the offenders and the victims.

0:30:05.5 S2: So we're talking about vertical, because the judge is at the top, right. Judge has the most power. And in your opinion, who has the most power after the judge?

0:30:16.7 S1: I would say the people under the judge would be like the lawyers or every and everything, police officers and stuff like that because they take charge in how the case runs and basically who gets to say what and who's involved in it.

0:30:31.1 S2: Right. But also like the jurors, right? The jury, oftentimes you have the jury, you have the judge, then you have the jury, then you have the lawyers, then you may have the DA, right? Then you may actually, like you said, have the police officers and then all the way at the bottom might be the defendants, right? One, two or as many defendants. And so that's why the Navajo consider that as the vertical justice system. But how about talk to us a little bit about the horizontal justice system and why the Navajo folks consider it as horizontal?

0:31:11.7 S1: The people consider a horizontal justice system as the way they wanted...

0:31:15.6 S1: Deal with criminals because it's kind of like a circle. Everyone is on the same level, they have the same authority, they have the same power, everyone's voice is heard. Whereas with the vertical it's only, you hear one person voice and everyone has to agree with it. Whereas horizontal, it's like everyone is on equal terms. And everyone has a say, everyone has a word in it. So if you feel like this should be done, everyone has to take it into consideration. And one person isn't above, they feel like that actually helps get down to the root of many problems, because we don't hear where the offender and the victim are coming from. It's basically just the offender did this. That's it. They get jail time. So yeah.

0:31:57.4 S2: So the Navajo folks consider the justice system based on solidarity, right? They say like solidarity is essential for healing and justice, right? So they say the language is a key to the law and those who share common understandings of values and emotions actually can get through issues together. So the Navajo ask us to think when we're talking about justice about this concept of solidarity, but also this concept of kinship, right? Who are we family to? Right. Who's my family. How am I in relation to this other person? So Daniella, if knowing that the Navajo are asking us to consider solidarity as really key term for justice and for healing, how do you think that affects the way that you move as a restorative justice practitioner?

0:32:54.9 S1: I would say when the Navajo people move with solidarity, it makes me kind of think of... I have to move in a way that I'm hearing everyone out, I'm on like good terms with everyone. 'Cause if you're moving with solidarity, then you're on equal terms with everyone. Everyone's kind of family, so to say. You will hear them out no matter what. And in restorative justice, that's what we're all about. We're all about hearing people out and we move with kindness and caring and willingness. So I feel like you have to remove all types of biases. You have to remove kind of everything that you do as a restorative justice leader and kind of follow as they do, because their way of bringing justice for people is very different to how many others do it. So, yeah.

0:33:43.8 S2: And the concept of solidarity doesn't necessarily mean that you have to be friends or best friends or BFFs or even you don't have to agree with what everybody says, but solidarity is about working in a common goal, right? So it's you can have that understanding of the common goal being we want peace or actually healing and justice without seeing eye to eye on everything.

Addressing the Impact of Homophobia

0:34:11.7 S1: Hello. My name is John Aaron. Today we're in the circle to be talking about homophobic comments in school, but before we start, I'd have to go over a few ground rules. Number one is to respect the talking piece. Number two is a... This is a phone free zone, you can't be using your phones. And number three is confidentiality, whatever that is said in the circle stays in the circle. I'm passing it to Amber to start this off.

0:34:33.9 S2: Thank you. So the first opening prompt is how would you define homophobia?

0:34:40.1 Speaker 31: So, I'd say homophobia is a dislike of gay people and people that are scared of the LGBTQ community.

0:34:49.2 Speaker 32: I would say it's discrimination towards people who part of the LGBTQ community.

0:34:55.3 Speaker 33: I agree with Jill. I think it's discriminating towards those who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

0:35:02.2 Speaker 34: Homophobia is the open bias against people based on their sexuality and their identity.

0:35:09.6 S2: What is an example of homophobia you've witnessed or experienced in school?

0:35:18.5 S3: Well, I've seen a lot of people have a negative connotation behind gay. They say that's gay or something like that.

0:35:27.2 S3: In our school, I witness like people saying like the F-slur or like really homophobic slurs to people like as an insult to their friends.

0:35:40.6 Speaker 35: Well, early in the semester, I didn't really pay attention to people's pronouns in the beginning. And I accidentally called a dude, her by accident. And I was like really upset afterwards, because he did come up to me after class and he told me that he goes by him now and I was apologizing 'cause I felt really bad.

0:36:13.8 Speaker 36: Okay. So I've seen people treat people of the LGBTQ+ community different openly than others. And like they said, I've seen them called each other slurs and stuff.

0:36:27.6 Speaker 37: How is homophobia normalized in our society and the person speaking...

0:36:34.4 S3: Well oftentimes people use gay as a negative insult and it's like there's no problem with being gay. So I feel people should be comfortable with their sexuality without being judged.

0:36:49.9 S3: I think that homophobic language and actions happen so frequently and people grow up thinking that it's okay. So they say it as if it's not a big deal, but it actually has a big effect on a community.

0:37:07.6 Speaker 38: It affects like in our society, those small little comments and stuff really cause harm to people and can trigger people. So just doing that in our society.

0:37:21.9 Speaker 39: At least for me, at least in my friend group, we say I'm like, when we make jokes and it might come off weird or wrong in some type of way, we might say no homo or like, no gay shit, that's kinda how we talk and that kinda contributes to homophobia because it's, we act like it's a wrong thing to be and a wrong thing to act like, and if someone was gay or part of the LGBTQ community in our group, it kind of put them down. So, and that is something that we do around this school at least, or at least in my friend group. And that's something that kinda contributes to sorry, homophobia in the school.

0:38:07.3 S2: When you witness a homophobic comment, how do you deal with it?

0:38:11.8 Speaker 40: Okay. So when I witness a homophobic comment, I'm not gonna lie. Usually I don't really speak up, but that doesn't mean I don't feel the type of way about the language that people use towards that group of people. I think, as a minority myself and the LGBTQ community being a group that is targeted also, it kinda makes me feel bad. And I think it does lead to me having conversations with my friends that do experience that, or people that have that same mindset as like people that use this language towards them.

0:38:46.2 Speaker 41: When I like witness people getting targeted like that, I usually stick up for them as a person of that community, I know how that feels, because I've also experienced it. And I know that having someone there to stick up for you or like be on your side, feels like, it feels like good to have someone there.

0:39:11.4 Speaker 42: When I've witnessed a homophobic comment either. Like it can be like, if it's a post or if it's like a something in person being said, I either say something obviously just it's not okay to say something that's like, you know, it's either not physically harming somebody, but mentally, maybe it can be harming them. So you never know what you're saying can be harming someone.

0:39:36.7 Speaker 43: When I witness like a homophobic comment, I try my best to like correct the person that's making the comment. And although sometimes in public, I can't really speak up since most likely I would hear it from an adult. So I do what I can, but it does make me upset, when I hear it from other people.

0:39:54.7 S2: All right. Thank you so much, everyone for being here. Just remember to the confidentiality, keep what was said here.

Advice for Starting RJ in School

0:40:07.2 Speaker 44: From my class, I think I'd advise them to get a four or five trusted people that you think would be good in a restorative justice position and make a group with that.

0:40:19.5 Speaker 45: I think if you wanna do it, you should go for it. You got to make sure that it's not too overwhelming.

0:40:26.0 Speaker 46: Yeah. Make sure to just get involved with your school and speak up, raise your voice.

0:40:32.5 S4: For me, I would probably recommend to talk to a teacher, which is a restorative justice ally.

0:40:37.7 S4: Yeah. I agree with what Hanne said, like just branch out to people in the school and see what is going on and what you can do to involve more, involve yourself more.

0:40:47.0 Speaker 47: I'd say make sure that you set yourself up to have patience because a lot of the work you do is involving other people, whether it's students or teachers and a lot of the work you do, like we said earlier academically will have a toll. So you have to be patient with yourself and be patient with other people around you so that you can get the job done.

0:41:07.8 Speaker 48: I would really make sure that you know, within yourself, what you can and cannot do, because it's really important that you set those boundaries for yourself so that, you're able to be there for others, but also be there for yourself.

0:41:22.8 Speaker 49: To add to everyone else, I would definitely say like going to people who are already within the sort of justice community and just asking for advice, going to talk to them about what you'll be doing in the future. And just like having patience like Bajo said, and being willing to open up to all the work you will get because it is a lot more work. So just like having that time and energy and motivation to pursue what you can do.

0:41:51.8 Speaker 50: Yeah. I would say some advice that I would have is being able to communicate, that's something really important, being able to communicate with your community, your teachers, and even the people you work with and something else is something that I'm struggling with as well is being able to ask for help. It is okay to ask for help. And this work is a lot and draining. So asking for help won't make you seem weak. It'll make you stronger.

0:42:13.5 Speaker 51: I would say researching the restorative justice and talking, having some background knowledge as to like the fundamental things that you need in restorative justice and also asking people who are in the community.


Chris McNutt
Chris McNutt is the co-founder and executive director of Human Restoration Project, a nonprofit organization focused on student engagement, well-being, and motivation. His work centers on realizing systems-based change, examining how progressive pedagogical shifts (e.g. PBL, ungrading) reimagine school to best suit the needs of students and teachers alike. He was a public high school digital media & design educator who focused on experiential learning, portfolio-driven assessment, and community involvement.
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