This article is an effort to give practical direction in our quest for solutions to such a complex problem with such deep historical roots. One challenge, I believe, is to join together and share our diverse expertise and perspectives, gleaning from the hundreds of specialized areas of research and study in the field of psychology. In an international virtual town hall sponsored by the American Association of Black Psychologists, someone rightly indicated we need the “ammunition of science” to help our local communities. Reflect on: Psalm 89:14; Proverbs 1:2-5
Generalizations and biases may cloud the judgments of all of us, but we can help one another to pursue a valued goal of unity. Reflect on: John 17:19-21; Ephesians 4:2-6, 12-16
Here are my thoughts for using this time in history as an opportunity for healing.
Acknowledge prejudices. Awareness of our biases based on our past experiences can help us respond rationally rather than emotionally based on fear or unresolved anger toward a person or particular group. All racism is unjust, just as all prejudice is morally wrong. Research shows that self-awareness and mindfulness exercises can help us all.
Reflect on: Matthew 25:31-46; John 4:1-42
Listen and empathize. The past century of research in psychology has shown the value of non-judgmental acceptance of others, tuning in and listening to them. It is the foundation of therapeutic relationships.
We need to listen, seeking to understand and empathize with the pain and grief others experience because of injustices done to them. People tend to pre-judge others based on many different factors. Recognizing and overcoming those tendencies is part of our challenge as we seek to unite as a community and society.
Reflect on: James 1:19-20; Proverbs 18:13
Trauma research. Trauma in our personal and family histories often creates a hindrance to healthy emotional and relational functioning. Research addressing how trauma can be resolved and how people can build wellness and resilience into their lives has much to add to the race relations issue. Post-traumatic growth literature can guide many of our discussions on this issue.
Reflect on: II Corinthians 11:23-30; Hebrews 11:32-12:3