Critical Race Feminism, Health, and Restorative Practices in Schools: Centering the Experiences of Black and Latina Girls
Restorative practices (RP) in K-12 schools in the United States have grown exponentially since the early 1990s. Developing against a backdrop of systemic racism, RP has become embedded in education practice and policy to counteract the harmful and persistent patterns of disparities in school discipline experienced by students of color. Within this legal, social, and political context, the empirical evidence that has been gathered on school-based restorative justice has framed and named RP as a behavioral intervention aimed at reducing discipline incidents—that is, an “alternative” to punitive and exclusionary practices. While this view of RP is central to dismantling discriminatory systems, we argue it reflects an unnecessarily limited understanding of its potential and has generated unintended consequences in the field of RP research. First, the reactive RP model of analysis focuses more exclusively on behavioral change, rather than systemic improvement, to address discipline disparities. Second, RP research has insufficiently examined the potential role of RP in achieving health justice. Third, RP research too rarely engages in intersectional analyses that critically examine gendered racism. This study is intended as a course correction. Building on the work of legal scholars, public health researchers, sociologists, restorative justice practitioners, and our own prior work, this original study is the first to examine non-disciplinary RP through a critical race feminist lens, and—just as importantly—a public health praxis. Our findings reveal that the interplay between RP and adolescent health, race, and gender can no longer be overlooked. Proactive non-disciplinary RP was found to promote supportive school environments that enhance five key protective health factors for Black and Latina girls. Additionally, results indicate that RP improved the mental health and wellbeing of Black and Latina girls, building fundamental resilience skills that can help overcome the complex array of social structures that serve to disempower and disenfranchise girls and harm their educational and health outcomes.
Thalia González & Rebecca Epstein,
Critical Race Feminism, Health, and Restorative Practices in Schools: Centering the Experiences of Black and Latina Girls,
Mich. J. Gender & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjgl/vol29/iss2/6
Law and Gender Commons, Law and Race Commons, Mental and Social Health Commons, Other Education Commons