Growing up in South Los Angeles, Collier-Goubil quickly grew familiar with the strained relationship between local residents and law enforcement.
“There was a fear of law enforcement,” she said. “When they came into the community, it was always guns drawn, and it boiled over with the ‘not guilty’ verdict on the officers who were recorded on video beating Rodney King.
“I remember, as a child, seeing the video and thinking, you know, ‘Finally, we’re going to get justice.’ So when the ‘not guilty’ verdict came back, it was devastating.”
The riots that followed were so bad that the National Guard was called in, and Collier-Goubil felt sure it was a scene that would never unfold in places that were economically well off.
The entire chain of events set her on a God-ordained path toward a commitment to seeking justice for others. Years later, after earning a master’s degree, she worked as a police dispatcher, and her experiences there led her to start thinking that maybe God wanted her to be a bridge builder. She studied examples of justice in the Bible, and how God dealt with His people, and came to see that empathy goes hand in hand with justice. She says the proper way forward is systemic change and dialogue between all parties.
“The way that God sews together the tapestry of your life—all of the experiences I’ve had have come together to help me in the profession that I’m in today.” - Deshonna Collier-Goubil
“We have to come together, we have to be able to hear each other, and be open, to resolve the larger systemic issues. I think about that when I’m interacting with people, when I’m researching, when I’m teaching my students.”
Looking back, she sees God’s guiding hand, and the working out of His purposes for her.
“The way that God sews together the tapestry of your life—all of the experiences I’ve had have come together to help me in the profession that I’m in today.”