The daughter of Punjabi immigrants and a native Houstonian, Anita Wadhwa is a classroom teacher and restorative justice coordinator at YES Prep Northbrook High School, and author of Restorative Justice in Urban Schools: Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline and a contributor to the recently released anthology, Colorizing Restorative Justice. She has developed a youth led restorative justice model called YAM based on her research in Boston, which has garnered nationwide attention. She owes everything to her parents, husband, and two lovely girls.
"'What Do You Want, Reparations?': Racial Microagressions and Restorative Justice"
Anita Wadhwa shares a compelling personal story—one she hesitated to make public for a year—that shows why restorative justice practitioners must confront race and racism internally. From Wadhwa, we learn that, in multiracial coalitions or collaborations, racial microaggressions occur “even” in restorative justice. We also learn that, while restorative justice can build a “safe space” for genuine relationships to develop, we must not become complacent in these racially mixed spaces.
Calling out the shortcomings or failures of the restorative justice establishment can force White colleagues and White-dominated institutions into positions of alienation from People of Color and Indigenous Peoples, as Wadhwa experienced. Other contributors to this volume have experienced similar alienation—and risk further alienation from White colleagues by writing chapters for this book. Despite this alienation, though, Wadhwa’s story is spiritually restorative: naming what we experience as we struggle to colorize restorative justice is medicine for us and our communities.