Alize Asberry Payne


Racial Equity Officer, Washtenaw County



The county seat is in Ann Arbor, MI, but I work across our entire region which includes the city of Ypsilanti. Washtenaw County is a total of 720 square miles, a mix of urban and rural areas with 27 Cities, Villages and Townships.


What drew you to serve as a Community Fellow for the Crafting Democratic Futures project?

I was born and raised in San Francisco CA, and growing up in a place with so many distinct cultures and a long legacy of community activism engrained a sense of obligation to help build a just and fair world into the fundamental fabric of who I am as a person. Deep in my heart I’m an idealist radical leftist hippy who genuinely believes that a world where everyone has access to the resources that they need to thrive is not only possible, but something that government and institutions have a responsibility to build. The CDF project is such a clear example of how institutional collaboration and knowledge sharing can move radical and transformative work out of the abstract and into the tangible.


How does your work/organization connect to the Crafting Democratic Futures project?

In my role as Racial Equity Officer, my office established an Exploratory Committee on Reparations, that is tasked with development of set of recommendations for our Board of Commissioners The goal of this project is to create a opportunity for the county to self-reflect on ways that we have been complicit, intentionally or accidentally, on race based harm and attempt to repair the inequities that the county as an institution has helped create. I wasn’t aware of the CDF project when designing the ECR, the genesis of the county project came from our COVID-19 response work, but I don’t think that I could have built a local project that so clearly aligned with the CDF initiative if I’d tried.


Why do you think community-based reparations solutions are important for your community?

In Washtenaw County, the community is relatively affluent, with pockets of deep generational inequity. Not all of these disparate conditions are connected to race, by many are. To live up to our highest ideas of who we are as a progressive community we must address the issue of race based disparity.


What goals do you hope to achieve as you work on developing tangible suggestions for community-based reparations solutions through CDF? What goals do you believe your respective community may have with regard to CDF?

My hope is that the work of the ECR will help shape the county strategic planning process to ensure that the disparate conditions that were created by the legacy of chattel slavery, Jim crow, and mass incarceration are rectified and never repeated. That the local work that we are doing helps shape and drive a national narrative with proof of concept.   




Lauren Hood


Founder/Director of the Institute for AfroUrbanism



Detroit, Michigan


What drew you to serve as a Community Fellow for the Crafting Democratic Futures project?

The Crafting Democratic Futures project provides a national learning exchange for the reparations work I'm engaged in in Detroit. As an urban thinker and Planning Commission Chair in a city with an abundance of pressing social issues, it's easy to get tunnel vision. This access to scholars and activists in similarly challenged geographies across the country allows me to learn best practices that can be applied locally.


Why do you think community-based reparations solutions are important for your community?

Everything in Detroit has been devalued, including its Black citizens. So many of us carry the burden of shame as it relates to present day social and economic ills. Reparations allows us to release that burden and give it to its rightful owners, government and institutions that intentionally denied our access to resources and opportunities. Reparations serves as a first step to Black folks accessing their full capacity to thrive!




Asa Zuccaro


Executive Director of the Latinx Technology and Community Center



Flint, Michigan


What is your role as part of the Crafting Democratic Futures initiative?

As a Community Fellow for the project, I have three goals. First, I really hope that some local histories can be researched, or documented. Flint has played a really important role for the country. As an organization, we broke up Flint's demographic by race and ethnicity. Documenting the histories of the Black and Brown people who have largely contributed to the success of Flint over the course of history is necessary. As well as, even further, documenting those oppressive acts, or discriminatory policies and procedures that have affected our communities; resulting in what we see in the conditions of the neighborhoods today. I'm really hopeful that community members will be able to provide some great ideas, concepts for consideration to the University of Michigan to consider and really think about and be able to formulate a way to to draw a narrative for either a local ask or a national ask. This will essentially write a compass towards reparations for our communities. Lastly, I really hope that in our local community, hosting engagement sessions would spark the need to have these conversations and provide a catalyst for the exploration of the future of reparations in the Flint community.


What led you to social justice work?

Our community center is located directly in the community and we frequently advocate on their behalf based on the history, barriers, and hard-ships that our residents have experienced. It is important to me that I listen to community members in an effort to elevate their voices and initiate repair-oriented conversations. I will say that the bamboozlement, for me, is watching every professional space, every organization, every institution, and every entity declare that they value DEI (diversity, equity and inclusion). However, there's no honest change. There has been no action besides the DEI posters and displays that had been made. I think giving the members of the community the opportunity to share their experience, their personal experiences, or the experiences of others that they've known is important.