Chapter 9 – Ongoing Partnerships


“ [This is] the condition in which most of us begin: ignorant, isolated, and alienated from people who are unlike us. We are strangers who communicate differently, have difference cultures, eat different foods, enjoy different music, and see the world from different points of view. We are socialized to label these differences as inferior or superior, right or wrong, normal or abnormal, safe or dangerous, good or bad. We alienate ourselves from people who are unlike us and develop an aversion to them based on our prejudices, stereotypes, and fears.” (134-5)

Racial reconcilers “must develop ongoing partnerships that support their desire and commitment to be people God can use in the healing of people and nations . . .within a sustaining community people who desire to be reconcilers learn from each other and become aware of the things they do not know. Through ongoing partnerships they develop awareness of the social conditions around them.” (136)

“As the members of this diverse group engage with each other – sharing their stories and getting to know each other by being honest and vulnerable – empathy and bond begin to form between them. During this process, some of the automatic assumptions, perceptions, and stereotypes people have held about others are challenged and changed.” (137)

“In addition to sharing our story with others . . . [we need to] learn from leaders of a different race and ethnicity by submitting ourselves to their leadership . . . when whites submit to the leadership of people of color, opportunities to identify, examine and confront their distorted views and prideful attitudes will emerge in the context of loving, ongoing partnership.” (138)

“There is a script for the racial reconciliation process that is helpful in some ways but destructive in others. . . white people have a certain scripted role in that struggle. It seems that they are expected to (1) repent of racism and (2) work behind the scenes to raise money and open organizational doors so people of color can lead. There are good things about this script, but it can be very limiting.” (139) We should contribute to racial reconciliation according to our gifts and calling.

“People of color also have a script. They are expected to represent their whole race, speak out for justice and focus their life on justice for their community and their people. There are many good things about this script as well, but it can also be very limiting. Too many people of color have left their community and never looked back to help others.” (140)

“The process of identifying with others allows people to see themselves as unique individuals, not just as members of a particular racial or ethnic group. This is the beginning of forming a new identity and moving beyond categories and stereotypes. Through ongoing engagement with those who are racially and ethnically different, people are helped to see themselves as more than they or society thought they were. They are given a vision of who are also learning and growing in racial and ethnic reconciliation. This is a vital component of healthy, ongoing partnerships and is crucial to the reconciliation process.” (141)

Questions from Study Guide (194)

Have you ever submitted to the leadership of a person who was from a different ethnic and racial background? What was that experience like for you? Was it difficult or challenging?

How would you rate your intercultural skills? What can you do to improve them?

McNeil, Brenda Salter, and Rick Richardson. The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2009.