Partnership & Race – how do we create lasting change?

By Sharon Sund, MS

This is the first in a series of monthly posts for the Center for Partnership Studies on the topic of Partnership, Race & Intersectionality

During these turbulent times, there are hopeful movements, ‘Me Too’, ‘Never Again’, and ‘Black Lives Matter’. Many are asking, ‘how do we create lasting change?’ Let me suggest that lasting change will not happen unless America faces the violence and abuse it propagated and continues to administer against African American descendants of slave-workers and now toward anyone of color.

When we consider how we move forward, the emerging Partnership social systems model should be our major focus. Dr. Riane Eisler introduced Partnership systems theory in her seminal books The Chalice and the Blade and later in The Power of Partnership. Currently, our society is built upon a “Domination” model of social-structure that is based on authoritarian rule and subjugation. This results in social hierarchies starting with men ranked above women, Whites above Blacks, parents above children, humanity above nature. Partnership systems dissolve these institutional separations, close the economic inequality gap, and honors the interrelatedness of all life.

How then do we partner together around issues of race? First, we start with ourselves, we explore ways we have been complicit in reinforcing racial barriers. One thing I tell my ‘white’ friends is if you insist on being ‘White’ you are complicit in my denigration and your own subjugation. Whiteness is an economic entity used to control the masses and maintain the Domination social structure by extending ‘White’ people unearned positions of power and privilege. This invites them to be partners in the Domination social structure using their buy-in to maintain strict social norms and divisions. This is very difficult to look at but unless we face root causes and our personal participation in the problem we cannot move forward together as a nation.

How then do we partner together around issues of race? First, we start with ourselves, we explore ways we have been complicit in reinforcing racial barriers.

When I was in New Orleans recently, I went on tours of the Whitney and the Laura plantations. The Whitney told of slavery from slave children’s eyes. It showed the hardship, the cages where slaves were held waiting to be sold, the Catholic priest insisting the souls of slaves be christened, the brandings, the loss of limbs, the injuries, the shortened lives—only an average of 10 years from the time they started work on the sugar plantation.

The Laura plantation, on the other hand, told of the grandeur of the Deep South. It emphasized the strength of the women who ultimately ran this plantation for three generations. The women were the brains behind the building of the plantation, they made the business decisions including the decision to purchase human ‘breeding’ stock because the slave-worker death rate was so high. They show these things so that ‘White’ people can be proud, as well as, to emphasize the strength of women.

Today, in our 21st century world, I call upon strong ’white’ women (and men) to accept our ancestor’s lamentable decisions made to gain wealth, prestige, privilege, and control using the law and brutality over other humans. I call on people to partner first within themselves with their own Light, Love, and compassion so they can look out on this injustice and see the Light and Love in those of other races and partner together across all human differences to end the domination of privilege to build a truly fair and just nation.

Sharon Sund began her work career as a chemist, research scientist, and department manager. She has been a financial planner, and a technical communications consultant. In 2012, she ran for US Congress garnering close to 100,000 votes. Currently, she is a consultant, mediator, facilitator, speaker, writer, workshop leader, and Caring Economy Advocate.


This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Liz Copeland Reply


    My message “disappeared” before I had finished. I was writing to respond to your posting and I wonder: Did my incomplete regarding conversation on how to promote cross-pollinate between Riane’s Partnership/Domination model and anti-racism work reach you.

    Many thanks!

  2. Sheryl Morris Reply

    I’ll try first here to try and connect.
    Many months later and I am reading your article.
    I wanted you to know about a busy group (if you don’t already know of it)— Montessori for Social Justice. You can find them online. They offer books, book lists, classes, speakers, yearly conferences. Best to you.

  3. Bruce Adams Reply

    Thank you so much for this. I belong to a group of, mostly, white Boomer retirees who are struggling with this issue–what can we do to help? I’ve been trying to introduce Riane’s PR/DC model into our thinking, but it’s not a familiar topic to them. It’s magic for me, but many of my friends are retired technocrats, professionals, bureaucrats, etc., so I get to practice word economy and patience. I hope they’ll take a look at your work and get involved with it.

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