Get to know a little about DeMointé Wesley, one of the core team members of the National Center on Restorative Justice!
What is your work at the National Center on Restorative Justice?
As the Assistant Director of Partnerships and Communications, I help the NCORJ communicate the work that we’re doing and information about restorative justice more broadly to our partners and the general public. I collaborate with NCORJ team members on different projects devoted to increasing awareness of restorative justice, and I also help to manage our social media and communication platforms (including this website!).
What has been the most rewarding experience you’ve had working in restorative justice so far?
I have loved practicing restorative justice with students as a classroom educator and helping other educators grow in their own practice.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about restorative justice, and how do you address it in your work?
Perhaps not the biggest misconception, but one that I’m particularly passionate about is that restorative justice is an “unrealistic” way to address harm and move through the world. My answer to this is that restorative justice is not “new.” It has been a life-way for various peoples since time immemorial, and continues to be. I hope that through my work with the NCORJ, I will be able to help highlight various individuals and organizations who are living and working in restorative justice, and to contribute to a better understanding of restorative justice broadly.
What is a fiction movie, book, or TV show that you love and would point someone to as a good example of restorative justice practice or values?
The novel Sula by Toni Morrison comes to mind. None of the characters behave “restoratively,” so to speak, but I think it provides many instances of where a more restorative approach might have been impactful.
How would you describe restorative justice in five words or less?
A humanizing, relationship-centered life-way (do hyphenated words count?)
If you could sit in Circle with three present-day, historical, or fictional figures, who would you choose and why?
Sula Peace from the novel Sula by Toni Morrison (can you tell I love that book?), Toni Morrison herself, and James Baldwin. The conversation would be legendary!
When you’re not at work, what is something you like to do that brings you joy and fills your cup?
I love jump-roping, dancing, and watching (and talking during) movies with my friends and family. I also really love early 2000s pop culture and professional wrestling, and can talk about both for hours!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received and how have you used it?
A friend once told me “Stop waiting for someone else to give you permission to be yourself.” This has been a daily reminder to always show up as fully and as authentically as possible to any space I enter.
If you could instantly learn a new skill, what skill would you choose and how would you use it?
I would love to instantly be able to speak and understand every language in existence, and maybe a few not yet invented. I would be able to sit in Circle and talk with so many more people!