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Hello everyone! My name is Will Brodner and this summer I’m working with the Criminal Justice Resource Center on issues related to detention release. Six months ago, I never could have imagined how relevant this work would be. But now, in the wake of COVID-19 and protests for racial justice across the country, questions of who is in detention, why, and how they can be released are even more critical.

When I originally applied to be part of DukeEngage, I did so because I wanted to engage with Durham in a way that I felt I hadn’t over my last three years as an undergraduate. Duke is in Durham, but oftentimes I’ve felt that my time on campus insulated me from the larger community around us. Although our program is now working remotely, I am hoping to connect more deeply with the Durham community through my work with the CJRC this summer.

Watching the recent protests for Black equality and racial justice, I’ve also been thinking about the importance of collective action. Problems like systemic racism, police brutality, and wealth inequality – to name just a few – can only be solved if we work together. One voice can be ignored or silenced, but the force of people coming together to demand change is extremely powerful.

As a white man, I will never understand systemic racism the way the BIPOC community does. But I can add my voice to the chorus demanding change. I’m hopeful that working with the CJRC this summer will give me an opportunity to be part of that effort in Durham, and give me perspective on how to push for racial equality and equal justice in all aspects of my life.