Lived Experience of Interracial Dialogue on Race: Proclivity to Participate
Willow, Rebecca A., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development
The author conducted a qualitative inquiry of individuals' proclivity to participate in interracial dialogues. Lived experience of 20 participants in a race study circle yielded the overarching themes of education, self-reflection, advanced empathy, moral consciousness, universality, racial identity development, and social interest. Implications for research and recommendations for counselor education are discussed.
La autora Ilevaron a cabo una investigacion cualitativa sobre la propension de individuos a participar en dialogos interraciales. La experiencia vivida de 20 participantes en un circulo de estudio sobre raza dio como resultado los temas omnimodos de educacion, autorreflexion, empatia avanzada, conciencia moral, universalidad, desarrollo de la identidad racial e interns social. Se discuten las implicaciones para la investigacion, asi como recomendaciones para la educacion de los consejeros.
Since the origins of the United States, race relations remain, a nationdefining source of conflict. Locke and Kiselica (1999) stated," The topic of racism is one of the most emotionally charged subjects of our time (p. 80). Social scientists concur that a key to racial healing involves meaningful dialogue among racial groups (Dalton, 1995; Tatum, 1997). Kivel (1996) said, "Talking about racism lessens its power [and] ... allows us to do something about it" (p. 95). According to these scholars, interracial dialogue is a tool that can reduce prejudice; however, such dialogues are not commonly practiced.
The need to address issues of race and racial prejudice within counselor education and supervision has become the subject of discourse among authors interested in multicultural education (Roysircar, Gard, Hubbell, & Ortega, 2005; Toporek, Ortega-Villalobos, & Pope-Davis, 2004). Generally, counselors and counselor educators, much like the American population as a whole, are not comfortable in engaging in interracial discussions on race or race-related issues (D'Andrea & Daniels, 1999). There is a paucity of professional literature that specifically focuses on the propensity to engage in interracial dialogues. One recent study cited particular life experiences of individuals as stimulating an interest in Black-Jewish dialogue (Schlosser, Talleyrand, Lyons, & Baker, 2007). Abu-Nimer (1999) evaluated encounter programs involving Arab-Jewish dialogues in Israel, which were designed for conflict resolution and change. Abu-Nimer examined the goals of participants in engaging in this type of dialogue and the impact of a political context on the encounter models.
The utility of interracial dialogues on race as a personal and professional development tool for counselors is supported by multiple theoreticians. Allport's (1954/1979) seminal work suggested that interracial contact promoted prejudice reduction, especially when participants share (a) a common goal, (b) equal status, (c) intergroup cooperation, and (d) the support of authorities. Healey (1997) and Pettigrew (1998) suggested other factors that contribute to prejudice reduction during interracial contact. In addition, Helms (1990) suggested that interracial contact and dialogue promote racial identity development. Recent focus on social justice and advocacy in the counseling field highlights engagement with people who are different as a way to build empathy, morality, and the promotion of prosocial activism as well as taking action to reduce social problems such as racism (Kiselica & Robinson, 2001). Effective counselor training strategies include opportunities for interaction with peers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds (Coleman, 2006; Roysircar, 2004; Toporek et at., 2004). Roysircar et al. (2005) demonstrated that community-based interethnic and cross-cultural conversations can promote the development of multicultural competencies in counselor trainees. Others suggested that the use of interracial dialogue as a tool for healing for adversarial parties is consistent with counselors' commitment to multiculturalism (e. …