Voices for Justice: Overcoming Stigma Through Understanding

Apr 18, 2024 | 0 comments

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From Surviving to Living Spotlight: Breaking Stigmas and Building Bridges with David Boehnke

This episode of ‘From Surviving to Living Spotlight’ features a dialogue with IWOC coordinator David Boehnke, who discusses his journey from experiencing bullying and questioning societal structures, to deeply engaging in activism and organizing against the social stigma surrounding incarceration. Boehnke, growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, illuminates his early experiences and influences that shaped his perspective on social justice. He details his involvement in youth groups during high school, which pivoted his attention towards the disparities in educational and incarceration systems, particularly the racial disproportionality in remedial classes and prison populations. Boehnke’s activism journey led him to college where he majored in humanities, media, and cultural studies, and further immersed himself into understanding systemic issues like white supremacy, patriarchy, colonialism, and imperialism. Post-college, Boehnke’s work expanded to include support and organizing within the incarcerated community, resulting in the formation of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the Twin Cities. This organization aims to combat mass incarceration and create meaningful societal changes by fostering empathy, understanding, and action amongst individuals, both inside and outside the prison system. Throughout the episode, Boehnke and the host, Holly Bot, discuss the challenges, breakthroughs, and the ongoing efforts to bridge gaps, encourage community involvement, and advocate for legislative reforms to end life without parole, among other significant issues.


00:00 Opening Musical Introduction
00:29 Setting Up the Interview
00:53 Introduction to the Spotlight Series
01:42 David’s Journey: From Bullying to Social Awareness
02:55 Exploring the Roots of Incarceration and Social Stigma
05:29 College Years and Deepening Understanding
06:57 Activism and Connecting with the Incarcerated Community
10:23 The Impact of Personal Growth on Social Empathy
14:19 The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee: Goals and Actions
17:02 Legislative Efforts and the Hope for Change
22:19 Personal Reflections and Encouraging Community Involvement
30:27 Closing Remarks and Future Initiatives

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