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Research Commitment to Antiracism

Research Commitment to Antiracism

Antiracism demands that research be used to combat racist policies.

Key Observations

  • It is impossible to achieve any worthwhile change without recognizing that systemic racism and anti-Blackness are a part of our criminal justice systems.
  • The demand to uproot these liberties from our criminal justice system is at an all time high, and simply being not racist is no longer enough.  
  • CJR will continue to weave anti-racist approaches into every report, workshop, and interaction with policy makers, justice-oriented decision makers or members of the community.  

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Commitment to Antiracism

In the process of advocating for a criminal justice system that is equitable to all Americans, it is impossible to achieve any worthwhile change without recognizing that systemic racism and anti-Blackness are a part of our criminal justice systems. Knowing that these systems are unfair to people based upon their ethnicity is not enough however. In order to root out bias in criminal justice, we must implement anti-racist thought processes when it comes to crafting laws, police interventions, and handing down sentences in court.

If we fail to see the racial bias in these interactions, policymakers and criminal justice decision makers will continue to make the same decision that disproportionately damages Black and fragile communities. The Center for Justice Research is committed to approaching reform with antiracist initiatives in mind. This is not an afterthought for CJR; this creed is woven into every report, workshop, and interaction with policy makers, agency-level directors, and members of the community.

What is Antiracism?

Antiracism at its base is defined as actions or policies that combat racism. As author and historian Ibram X. Kendi says in his book “How to be an Antiracist,” not being racist is not the opposite of racism. The difference between anti-racism and not being racist  are stark to Kendi; the former requires an active examination of policies and taking action on inequality, while the latter denounces racism without challenging any of our systems that reinforce bigotry.

The public demonstrations calling for police reform in the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former officer Derek Chauvin is believed to be the biggest antiracist movement in modern history. The demand to uproot these liberties from our criminal justice system is at an all time high, and simply being not racist is no longer enough.

The Antiracism Research Approaches Guide the Initiatives of CJR

When it comes to spaces in criminal justice reform, CJR acknowledges the need to have diverse researchers and to be inclusive of ideas from various backgrounds. In order to assess and critique policies that reinforce racism, CJR believes we must adopt the policies that we fight for in these spaces.

Our team is composed of researchers  who have firsthand experience living in an unequal society. Our researcher development program is a sustainable pipeline for culturally responsive candidates and individuals from underrepresented communities to break into criminal justice research. The program is designed to increase the number of criminal justice faculty and researchers who focus on dismantling the unnecessary barriers between the police and the community, implementing equitable prosecution, and dismantling predictive bias.

The lack of diversity in researchers in justice reform is one of many factors that need to be addressed in this field. Ironically, funding for scientific research that is intended to address racial inequality in our systems of justice may suffer from systemic inequity. Data shows that Black researchers are significantly less likely to be awarded grant funding compared to Asian, Hispanic, and White applicants. Specifically, Black women were significantly less likely to receive funding, as well as having a lower submission rate overall. CJR champions equality in funding too, believing that new, fresh perspectives will greatly enhance missions to create a more equitable criminal justice system.

Example CJR projects that encompass our antiracism initiatives:

  • Our Save Black Lives report examines how race-neutral approaches and responses to the pandemic within the criminal legal system are ineffective, and how they cause harm to Black communities.
  • CJR investigated racial disparities in Houston’s pretrial population, revealing the alternatives to incarceration have fallen victim to racial, ethnic and class bias.
  • Antiracism initiatives go beyond courts and prisons. Discrimination against Black hairstyles have been prevalent in schools and workplaces. Our discussion I’m Not My Hair: The Criminalization of Black Hair brought to light prejudices women and men face at their jobs and within their educational institutions. Having open discussions on micro- and macro-aggressions that occur in different aspects of our society.

If you or your organization is interested in learning more about antiracism initiatives and CJR’s work, please contact us.

About the Author

Center for Justice Research

Center for Justice Research