Colorizing Restorative Justice

Voicing Our Realities

Editor: Edward C Valandra, Waŋbli Wapȟáha Hokšíla – Foreword by Justice Robert G. Yazzie

Living Justice PressSoftcover, 440 pages, indexed, ISBN 978-1-937141-23-3



The eighteen essays in Colorizing Restorative Justice, by authors who are Restorative Justice practitioners and scholars, explore the issues of racism and colonization within the field of restorative justice / restorative practices. The essays fall within five parts:

1. Where Are We? RJ/RP Challenges and Obligations

2.Negotiating RJ/RP as Professionals of Color

3. POC Experiences of RJ/RP and Circle Work

4. Restorative Lessons from within the Community

5. A Call to Settlers in RJ

From the introduction, by Edward C. Valandra:

The twenty authors of color in this book raise unsettling issues about restorative justice and restorative practices (RJ/RP), situated as they are in white supremacist settler societies that sustain deep roots in European invasion and colonizing. The contradiction between restorative practices and the Western, white supremacist, settler societies in which we practice them is inherent. We People of Color and Indigenous Peoples have not created the contradiction. It is there. But we collectively experience this contradiction in ways Whites do not. We feel an urgency about addressing this contradiction that our White settler colleagues seem not to perceive or express. We also feel an urgency about critically informing communities of color and Indigenous communities that this contradiction, while not of our making or choosing, is one we negotiate in restorative justice.

This book in many ways represents a journey. The journey of the modern RJ movement, now decades old, sadly, as a collective, has for the most part missed, watered down with romanticism, and in many cases intentionally and sometimes unintentionally excluded the voices represented here. It’s not that the voices—so profoundly expressed in this collection—were silent over the years. In many cases, they were shouted, then lost in the winds of oppressive patterns normalized. The older voices, still circulating and revolving in the wind, and now joined with new ones are collected here. It is my hope they land on ears willing to hear their wisdom that will enrich and perhaps even transform the RJ journey, even when the wisdom is uncomfortable.

Harley Eagle, Dakota / Ojibway; member, Whitecap Dakota First Nations Reserve, consultant in Restorative Justice and other conflict management strategies, anti-racism and anti-oppression, trauma informed practice, and cultural safety trainings and initiatives.

In my over forty years as a teacher, researcher, lawyer and social activist in the United States and Canada, I have read scores of books addressing issues of race and justice. This book stands out amongst all these works. It is unique in its penetrating exploration of the lived experience of people of color involved in restorative justice, coupled with an excellent analysis of the larger colonial structures which perpetrate inequality and racism. Consisting of 20 people of color as contributors, it is a well written and readable, well organized and thoughtful critique of mainstream restorative philosophy and practice.

Charles Reasons, Ph.D., J.D., Central Washington University, Distinguished Professor Service, Faculty Diversity Award, Rep. Tim Ormsby Award for Faculty Citizenship


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