What Can I Do about Racial Justice?

Many of us are enraged and disheartened when we look at the socio-economic landscape in the United States and see racial injustice, from police shootings of black women and men, to the mass incarceration of people of color, to the disproportionate numbers of black women who die in childbirth, to the segregation of women of color in low paid care giving professions. Protesting is not enough; changing the landscape of systemic racism requires awareness of the historical pervasiveness of white supremacy based on domination systems, and whole system change towards partnership social and economic systems.

The partnership lens reveals key levers for change.

Through the partnership lens we can see that oppression and injustice based on race is inherent in the domination mindset, which uses in-group/out-group thinking to hold in place rigid hierarchies of power. In domination systems, difference is equated with being either superior or inferior; one either dominates or is dominated, one either serves or is served. In societies that conform to the domination end of the social scale, we see rigid social hierarchies: men ranked above women, parents above children, one race or religion over another, and humanity above nature.

This understanding of the meaning of difference starts with the ranking of the male over the female form that children learn is “normal” in early childhood. In domination families, children learn that the inequality of people is natural. They internalize a template for in-group vs. out-group relations that can automatically be applied to other differences: racial, religious, ethnic, sexual orientation, and so forth. Yet these connections are invisible because we have been taught to think of issues relating to women and children as “just” women’s and children’s issues.

“We can collectively move towards being a multiracial democracy and having a caring economy. The first step in coalition-building is building authentic relationships, which comes when we each name our own stakes in dismantling the domination social structure that fuels racism.” – Sharon Sund, partnership leader, restorative justice facilitator and caring economy advocate

The Center for Partnership Studies provides the new stories and language needed to build a more just and sustainable society. As we move towards the partnership end of the domination/partnership social scale, and see a rise in gender equity in families, we find a dramatic shift in mindset toward differences. We find relations of mutual respect and open-hearted efforts toward mutual understanding. We find decreases in violence, as violence is not needed to reinforce rigid social hierarchies. And, we find celebration of intersectionality – the multiple identities and histories which weave through each of us as individuals.