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Part of the book series: International and Cultural Psychology ((ICUP))


It is a sunny afternoon, on August 30, 2010. Police officer Ian Birk, driving his patrol car down a downtown street, stops for a red light. As he waits, he notices a middle-aged man casually crossing the street, a block of wood and a knife clearly visible in his hands. The man is John T. Williams, a 50-year-old First Nations wood carver.

Some portions of this chapter were previously published in Lyubansky (2013). Restorative justice for Trayvon Martin. Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 5, 59–72.

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  1. 1.

    This quote is from Dostoevsky’s Tales From the Underground, first published in 1864. As per the norms of this time period (both in Russia and the United States), the language is male-centered. We appreciate Dostoevsky’s insights into human nature but lament the absence of gender-neutral language, which would have better represented the values of both the authors of this chapter and the editors of this volume.

  2. 2.

    Dashboard video/audio from Birk’s squad car is available at

  3. 3.

    We use “Black” and “African American” interchangeably throughout the article to refer to a socially constructed racial group or identity and recognize that this group, like all other racial groups in the United States, is ethnically and culturally heterogeneous. We recognize, as well, that the racial classification system was most likely originally designed for the purpose of creating a sub-human class that could then be exploited. Our focus on race and our use of racial categories should in no way be construed as support for the existence of this classification system but rather as recognition that such a system continues to impact the lives of millions of people and, therefore, needs to be studied, discussed, and ultimately, politically dismantled as a tool of social control.

  4. 4.

    In his convention speech, he said, to considerable applause, “There's not a Black America and White America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America.” (Obama 2004).

  5. 5.

    These statistics clearly point to a racial element in law enforcement, but the data should be interpreted with caution. They could be due to intentional racial profiling or unintentional anti-Black bias. On the other hand, a more complex set of dynamics may be producing the inequity. For example, it is possible that police officers are requesting more searches when they stop Black drivers not because of anti-Black bias but because Black drivers who are stopped are more likely to respond with irritation, aggression, and fear than White drivers. Moreover, Black drivers may respond in this way because of their distrust of police officers, distrust that is at least partly rational given the statistics cited earlier.

  6. 6.

    A few sample comparisons: England incarcerates 149 per 100,000; Canada 114 per 100,000; France 101 per 100,000 and Germany 80 per 100,000.

  7. 7.

    At the time of the incident with Martin, Zimmerman was functioning as the community watch coordinator.

  8. 8.

    In addition to aversive racism, psychologists have also described and measured modern racism and symbolic racism. While each of these three constructs describes a somewhat different phenomenon, they also have substantial overlap.

  9. 9.

    For example, studies of implicit bias were prominently featured at the Kellogg Foundation’s 2012 America Healing conference, a convening designed to move our society from a “racialized democracy” to an inclusive one.

  10. 10.

    The tendency to “blame the victim” and the just-world beliefs that underlie this tendency are described in Chap. 2.

  11. 11.

    In this exercise, students are randomly given a notecard containing a racial, gender, and (sometimes) socioeconomic identity (e.g., White male who is a high school drop-out, Hispanic female with a college degree). They then line up, side to side, and, as the instructor slowly reads a selected list of privileges from the McIntosh (1988) paper, they are asked to take a step forward when they believe a particular statement applies to their temporary identity. Since the statements describe various manifestations of white privilege (e.g., “When I shop, I can generally count on not being followed or watched on the basis of my race”), by the time the 10–15 statements are read, the students are spread out, so that those with more privilege are out in front while others lag far behind. Students reveal their identity one by one as they stand in their place. A discussion follows.

  12. 12.

    As described by Thandeka, the race game has only one rule: For a week (or a day), the racial modifier “White” has to be used whenever speaking about a White individual (e.g., “my white friend, Peter”).

  13. 13.

    The Simpson proceedings are the most recognized example of how the criminal and civil processes typically unfold in these kinds of public cases. The Martin/Zimmerman case is now unfolding in the same way.

  14. 14.


  15. 15.

    A first-degree murder case in which a restorative process took the place of criminal proceedings was recently covered by the New York Times Magazine (Tullis 2013). In this case, the restorative process, which was supported and attended by both the district attorney and the victim’s family, resulted in a 20-year sentence.

  16. 16.

    The Williams Circle is not atypical. To the contrary, the outcomes described by Bernnake are consistent with a growing body of literature documenting the effectiveness of restorative practices in general and Restorative Circles in particular (see, for example, Sherman and Strang 2007; Gillinson et al. 2010).


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Correspondence to Mikhail Lyubansky .

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Lyubansky, M., Hunter, C.D. (2014). Toward Racial Justice. In: Mustakova-Possardt, E., Lyubansky, M., Basseches, M., Oxenberg, J. (eds) Toward a Socially Responsible Psychology for a Global Era. International and Cultural Psychology. Springer, New York, NY.

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