Week 5: Do No Harm. – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Week 5: Do No Harm.

Asalam Alaikum!

Last week I introduced you to Dawud Clark. Dawud is a dedicated, kind, and respected member of this community, and his established “Welcome to the Muslim Center” is a hallmark of what makes this community center such a wonderful and hospitable place to be. 

Dawud is the house manager for DREAM’s Project Homecoming transitional home, and this has been a labor of love for Dawud for the past several years. Project Homecoming is a transitional home for men returning home from prison, and the goal is to provide an environment where formerly incarcerated men can safely and effectively transition back into the free world and build up the skills, knowledge, and support needed to thrive. 

For Dawud this home is extra special, “Before I moved in, I was living in a hotel. I’m working, I’m trying to find a place to live. And I’m just exhausting myself every day going in circles. When I got in touch with Dream of Detroit, they got in touch with me, it made sense. It saved my life.”

Dawud, himself being formerly incarcerated, found it almost impossible to find anywhere to stay due to the fact that he didn’t have a credit score and he had a history. It was the transition home and the DREAM community that allowed him to get back on his feet and it’s his gratitude and love for the project that drives his work. 

Recently, DREAM of Detroit was featured in ABC news and portrayed Dawud in a negative light choosing to focus on his past and portraying him only as a recipient of DREAM of Detroit’s services. We were all really disappointed with the portrayal of Dawud in something that would’ve otherwise been a decent article. 

This whole experience has emphasized just how important the portrayal of someone’s narrative is. And seeing this experience firsthand and how it frustrated and saddened Dawud, someone whose cheerfulness lights up the entire community, stressed how important it is as a researcher, journalist, and just anyone who plans on entering a community to make sure that your work empowers and educates. 

As community-based researchers, I truly believe that it is our job to empower and learn about the communities that we enter, and it all starts with listening. It’s not our job to weave the narrative, but rather to receive and amplify it.

4 thoughts on “Week 5: Do No Harm.”

  1. This is an awesome story, Buraq! I am glad that I got to read more about this from what we heard at our meeting today. I think your portrayal of Dawud does a much better job of capturing his essence than the ABC article!

  2. You bring such an important message with this story, Buraq. It is really disappointing to hear about this treatment of a formerly-incarcerated person, especially from a story about an organization trying to lessen the difficulties of re-entering communities. The story you told of Dawud’s experience in and then contribution to Project Homecoming is very beautiful. I agree with Rose that your portrayal of him is better and honors the full scope of his skills, and love for and presence in the community.

  3. Hi Buraq, I’m sorry to hear that Dawud was portrayed in such an unnecessarily negative manner. I feel that we hear stories like this one all the time, but they usually take place in previous decades. It’s sad to see that even in the present day, narratives are being created that downplay Detroiters, rather than empowering them.

  4. This has really stuck with me. I can’t stand that Dawud was exposed like that when there is so much positive to what he’s doing NOW. I know we talked about this in person last week, but I’m just so angry for him!

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