Promoting the use of racialized collaborative conversations
Baylor ISR / Program for Collaborative Conversation & Race

Why we need a new direction on Racial Issues

It seems like everyday we are reminded about how we have failed to create racial harmony in our society.  We need to recover from centuries of racial abuse. Some have argued that the way to overcome this abuse is to ignore racial issues. This approach is called colorblindness. However, this approach assumes a level of racial fairness that we have not yet achieved. Others have made it a point to actively contest racism in all its myriad forms. Much of this is under the rubric of antiracism and attempts to “train” whites to be more amiable to people of color. But research has shown such an approach often deepens rather than lessens the racial divide.

Many of us are crying out for a new direction. Both colorblindness and antiracism are attempts of individuals to impose certain solutions on the rest of the population. For different reasons this imposition creates resentment and opposition. Why can’t we have honest conversations that move us forward!!!

This path can be found in an emphasis on collaborative conversations. Collaborative conversations are productive goal-oriented conversations that offer us a way to racial unity that does not depend on silencing others but working with others. The purpose of those conversations is to find areas of agreement and the type of compromises necessary to reduce racial tensions. Collaborative conversations are not merely to help us to feel good about each other but to help us to learn how we can work together in a community that supports each other.

Too many people seek solutions that allow certain racial groups to win, even at the expense of other groups. Those are win-lose solutions which encourage resistance by those who feel unheard. Does not our country crave solutions based upon productive conversations where no voices are silenced? Do we not need solutions that serve everybody? Collaborative conversation is about creating these types of win-win solutions instead of win-lose solutions.