Dr. Abdul-Malik Muhammad has been a grassroots organizer and activist for marginalized communities for nearly twenty-five years. As a student organizer in high school and college, he led protests, helped found and build student organizations, and was committed to fulfilling his role as a youth organizer. As an educator, Dr. Muhammad has more than twenty years of experience serving both youth and adults as a teacher, principal, campus president, executive and state director, and vice president of organizations. Always working with the underserved in urban and rural areas, he has focused on the development of Black boys to men, establishing a progressive pedagogy for oppressed youth and building progressive organizations. He is currently the vice president of several educational, mental health, and human services operations in seven states across the US. Additionally, he has founded two organizations, Akoben LLC and Transforming Lives Inc., as vehicles to “transform lives, one community at a time.” He is also actively involved in several national and international organizations, championing an emphasis on leadership, relationships, and social justice.
Dr. Muhammad holds a BA in international affairs from Franklin & Marshall College, an MA in educational leadership from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and an EdD in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.
"The Cipher, Circle, and Restorative Practices with Black and Brown Boys"
Malik Muhammad sees the restorative work of addressing and repairing harms as going beyond the interpersonal. Any time a non-mainstream movement touches the lives of People of Color, it is by definition radical: whatever the focus, it also exposes white supremacy. It is not surprising, then, that Muhammad engages restorative justice and practices not for transactional outcomes only but for radically transforming systems. Muhammad focuses on school-age youth of color and Indigenous youth to stem and turn the tide of structural violence—the school-to-prison pipeline.
For Muhammad, culture, the journey from boyhood to manhood, hope, bias, equity, and liberation are integral components to learning, and the restorative practices movement must consider them whenever practitioners interact with school-age boys and young men. Muhammad applies the four-quadrant Social Discipline Window (SDW) framework to help us rethink our own socialization around authority (control) and nurturing (support): How does our way of balancing these two affect our relationships with our children? Depending on the quadrant, Muhammad interrogates the dangers of either institutional dependency or community enabling—or both. In all but the “with” quadrant, youth are likely to stay disconnected, because traditional, top-down discipline remains the default.
Muhammad admonishes us that questioning our own biases is not enough to support youths’ transformative change. Only when oppression—be it structural, institutional, or personal, social, racial, political, cultural, or economic—is outed can the damage it perpetuates be named and transformation follow. Only then will restorative justice effect genuine equity and authentic liberation.