Though your early expectations of what you would experience in DCERP—farming and life in Detroit—have been dashed by a virus, I hope you’ve positively impacted the development of 3D and have gained a deeper understanding of the city of Detroit, the injustices within the justice system, the hardships faced by kids with incarcerated parents, and of what community is.
From my perspective now, I would define community as a group of people united by a shared experience, common interest, or common goal. And yes, there are two parts to this: having the shared thing—whatever that may be—and being united by that thing. I’m confident that your understanding has been refined as you’ve gotten to know the 3D boys and the city of Detroit.
But I think it’s important to remind you why I got us involved in DCERP to begin with. To put it directly—and I’m sure you know better than me—Detroit is unwell. Being a predominately Black city, it’s hurting from the systemic racism of today and the legacy of racism in every moment leading up until today. Coming from the town and family we are from, I understand little of this—no more than my public health classes and casual reading has taught me. By coming to Detroit with DCERP, I hoped to learn from its people about their experiences; I hoped to better understand their needs. I, aspiring to be a primary care doctor as I assume you do as well, hoped that what I would learn from Detroit and its people would allow me to better serve my patients in the future. And now, I hope that, being not bodily in Detroit, interacting not face-to-face with the people, you’ve still been able to learn and been able to grow in understanding. And considering the circumstances, there’s so much pain. I know I can’t fully understand the depths of this pain, and I know you can’t either. But yet, I hope you have learned what your role is in reducing it.