Welcome to Reflective Justice
Building Communities of Mutual Liberation
Our vision of professional development is about promoting institutional environments where white people can move beyond their fears and join with black, indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) in the work of reflective justice, an essential element of our mutual liberations. In short, our work is about decentering whiteness in institutional spaces so everyone can thrive.
About Reflective Justice
Since 2013, we have been building more equitable communities in higher education and nonprofit organizations through our method of deep reflection about the complex histories of injustice that continue to organize our work lives, project development that encourages participants to think about themselves as equity-driven leaders, and strategic planning to build equity into the structures the institution itself.
Get in touch today to learn more about how your institution or business can benefit from Reflective Justice.
Why Focus on Decentering Whiteness?
Ideologies of whiteness structure the social, economic, and political life of the United States. Because these oppressive structures are often unseen by white people, they also go unquestioned. Justice requires seeing and dismantling racist structures. And for that, we need to reflect on who we are and what roles play in upholding these structures. Decentering whiteness is the first step in dismantling racialized oppression and creating more humane
Our RJ Team
Lisa Anderson-Levy, Ph.D.
As of July of 2020, Dr. Lisa Anderson-Levy Executive Vice President and Provost at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota. Before that, she was Professor of Anthropology, affiliated faculty in Critical Identity Studies, and Co-PI of the Mellon-funded Decolonizing Pedagogies Project at Beloit College. Her publications include “Colliding/Colluding Identities: Race, Class, and Gender in Jamaican Family Systems,” An(Other) Ethnographic Dilemma: Subjectivity and the Predicament of ‘Studying Up,’ and “The End(s) of Difference? Towards an Understanding of the “Post” in Post-Racial.” She is currently on leave from RJ this year.
Catherine M. Orr, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Director
Catherine is Professor Emerita of Critical Identity Studies and was Co-PI of the Mellon-funded Decolonizing Pedagogies Project at Beloit College. Her scholarly work has appeared in Feminist Studies, Women's Studies Quarterly, Hypatia, Atlantis, NWSA Journal, and Souls. She is co-editor of Rethinking Women's and Gender Studies (volumes 1 and 2) as well as co-author of Everyday Women's and Gender Studies: Introductory Concepts, all published by Routledge. She taught courses such as "Sex, Race, and Power," "Thinking Queerly" and "Masculinities." She has served in numerous positions on the board of the National Women's Studies Association and is currently active in her community as a facilitator for Witnessing Whiteness workshops, a buddy in Urban Triage's Co-Conspirator Workgroup, and most recently a member of the City of Monona's Ad-Hoc Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She is a runner, a mixed-media artist, a partner, mom, and cat guardian.
Sonya Maria Johnson, Ph.D.
Sonya is the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the Department of Critical Identity Studies at Beloit College. Johnson's current research is on how practitioners of the Amerindian and Kongolese inspired tradition of Palo Monte/Mayombe engage ancestral spirits to affirm their "African" identity, and to establish a homeland inside their diasporal circumstances. She serves as treasurer and executive board member for the Association for the Study of the Worldwide African Diaspora. She teaches courses such as "Sex, Race, and Power," "Decolonizing the Anthropology of Religion," "Radical Emphathy," and “Lifeways and Resistance in the Black Atlantic.” Sonya is a 500-hour Registered Yoga Teacher and is passionate about teaching and practicing the power of pausing.
Reflective Justice Services
We design and implement equity-driven professional development workgroups in higher education. RJ provides a challenging curriculum and supportive learning context for participants to reflect on the institutional mission, their own disciplinary training, their professional goals, the experiences of their students in classrooms and other campus spaces, and how all of these are inevitably impacted by our diverse and deeply personal experiences of race and identity in contexts where whiteness is centered.
Beyond the One-Off Workshop
While we understand the attraction to inspirational speakers or one-off workshops, these kinds of investments do little to make good on institutional commitments to equity--that is the work of making the curriculum/pedagogies/culture/operations of an institution more inclusive, more just, and ultimately more capable of cultivating a community where all people feel safe and supported. That work takes time and a sustained commitment of resources to form a critical mass of equity-driven leaders across a campus or organization. That's the work of Reflective Justice.
The RJ Approach
Our work is structured by the semester (or academic year) and typically starts with an all-day workshop and then hits a two-week (or one-month) rhythm of 90-minute sessions that align with faculty/staff schedules. We conclude with a half-day final session. All meetings are conducted over Zoom. The basic RJ curriculum (what we call the Foundational Reading Series) is a combination of readings, reflections, and group discussions in a stable cohort of up to 12 participants per group across a semester (or academic year). We can work with up to 25 faculty/staff/administrators per semester (50 per academic year), which can include on-site faculty (or campus) leaders who in addition to participating in the sessions we run can also facilitate some of the group discussions (this cuts down on the institution's costs as well as builds leadership/sustainability).