Reflection: Solving Racism Through Dialogue

The Problem of Prejudice 

Once again the stubborn scourge of racial prejudice and structural racism is tearing apart the American society. For almost four-hundred years since slavery was first introduced to the American continent, the pseudo-scientific doctrine of racial superiority, and the structural arrangements that promote the systematic support of racism, continue to persist.

Community Support 

Most people desire to flourish, to belong to supportive and happy communities, and to engage with others in contributing to the prosperity of their community and the larger society. In turn, a good society attempts to offer to every individual opportunities and the means to develop their capacities and become active participants in advancing the common good. Every person seeks to have a better life and hopes for a better future.


Over the course of the history of race relations in the United States, successive policies and legal measures aimed at uprooting the blight of racism and discrimination have failed to bring about equal access, opportunity and full integration. The very nature of the policies created to quell structural racism have, in most cases, either maintained or further segregated and discriminated against minority populations, especially African-Americans.

Lessons from History 

History repeatedly shows that breakdown and violence come to societies where hatred, separation, and disharmony prevail. Conversely, where there is cooperativeness, goodwill, and unity, society grows and prospers bringing happiness to people. On an individual level both Whites and Blacks together can make a tremendous effort in working toward the elimination of racism. Both can guard against creating yet another enemy. Both can explore together how to pave a path that leads to genuine, open, soul-searching dialogue in order to understand one another and work together to lighten the injustice and pain felt by the oppressed.

Crucial Conversations 

Carrying out such crucial conversations in an atmosphere permeated with respect and dignity is bound to bring about understanding, empathy and a positive change in attitudes. Many of the greatest turning points in history have come about when a small band of individuals had the conviction and courage to exert their time and best intentions in bringing about positive change. People of goodwill, Whites and Blacks, can step out of their comfort zone and join forces in combating racism and promoting justice.

About the Author: 

hoda-profile-avatarProfessor Hoda Mahmoudi holds the Bahá’í Chair for World Peace at the University of Maryland. Dr. Mahmoudi develops a sound scientific basis for knowledge and strategies that explore the role of social actors and structures in removing obstacles to peace and creating paths to a better world.
For more information about Hoda: Bahá’í Chair for World Peace website.

Photo Credit: Bahá’í Chair via Flickr 

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