Relating Across Race: From Reacting to Acting to Relating

“"The unfolding relationship [with the person with whom you are in conflict] is not simply a vehicle for addressing racism, a means to other ends, but it is also a profound expression of addressing racism, an end in itself." --Chris Schlauch, co-researcher ”

Team Members/Contributors

Courtney T Goto Boston University School of Theology Contact Me

About this sabbatical grant for researchers

This practical theological project explores baffling and often upsetting encounters involving race. For example, a church member argues “black lives matter,” while another shouts “blue lives matter.” In these encounters, people who may or may not be racially different inhabit such contrasting realities (paradigms) that they react to one another as strangers or sometimes as threats. This project assists leaders in interrupting habits of reacting and in shifting toward acting (as a conscious agent) and relating (with other agents). Practicing new habits include comparing what is emerging within each person (introspection) and trying to understand the plausibility of the other person’s reality when it comes to race (via vicarious introspection). Widening the basis for relating can create openings for unexpected interpersonal and systemic shifts over time. This work is co-researched by Chris Schlauch and Courtney Goto, whose work draws on psychology, agnotology, feminist epistemology, critical race studies, education, and theology. The project provides a framework for North American church and other leaders to become critically aware of their habits of reacting to race (presented as ten paradigms) and then to relate to others more productively, creating possibilities for addressing systems and structures that perpetuate racial harm.