Structural Racism and Critical Participatory Evaluation

Michelle Fine, Distinguished Professor of Social Psychology, Women’s Studies and Urban Education at the Graduate Center, CUNY has taught at CUNY since 1992 and is a founding member of the Participatory Action Research Collective. Michelle’s research has been organized through participatory action research and focuses how youth think about and contest injustice in schools, communities and prisons.

Structural racism projects are bold, ambitious initiatives dedicated to documenting and transforming a thick overgrowth of policies, practices, traditions and ideologies that have justified and naturalized racialized injustices. Whether implemented in government, schools, prisons, worksites or communities, such interventions are typically resisted or contained; domesticated to “fit” into existing arrangements. In the language of Rinku Sen, executive director of the Applied Research Center, most of these projects set out to be transformational and end up transactional (see page X). Vibrant political visions too often shrink to technical solutions. This short essay advances critical participatory evaluation as an essential tool to hold institutions accountable for racial justice and research validity.

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