Dialogue as a Tool for Racial Reconciliation: Examining Racialised Frameworks
AbstractIn this paper, I draw on my experiences as facilitator of a seven-week intergroup dialogue on race to explore the role of dialogue as a tool for racial reconciliation, particularly in the context of domestic U.S. race relations. Additionally, I examine and raise questions about the cultural frameworks and assumptions that shape dialogue processes and methodologies: is the dialogue framework (as a conflict resolution tool) inherently racialised? How are power imbalances addressed in a dialogue setting, and how do these power imbalances influence opportunities for racial reconciliation? I posit that the dialogue framework has been constructed through a culturally/racially biased lens that privileges ‘White Talk’ characteristics, and does not adequately address power imbalances. As power imbalances are not effectively addressed in a dialogue setting, opportunities for genuine and comprehensive racial reconciliation (as defined by leading reconciliation scholars) are limited. Ultimately, I argue that dialogue alone is not enough to reach a genuine and sustainable process for racial reconciliation. Mechanisms to address structural inequality and power disparities at the societal level must be in place together with the interpersonal reconciliation that takes place within dialogue settings.