Potential Barriers to Mediating with African American Participants
Mediation is defined as a process in which an outside party works with individuals in conflict to help them change the quality of their conflict interaction from negative and destructive to positive and constructive, as they explore and discuss issues and possibilities of resolution (Bush & Folger, 2010). Communication is essential to this process. In order to do this, the mediator must create an environment that is comfortable for the participants.
Being race is a historically sensitive topic, especially concerning relations between the African American and Caucasian communities, it is important to be conscious of avoidable problems. Though most people would like to believe we are in a post-racial society, in this very city, we are amidst the most confrontational period my generation has seen. Concerning diversity in mediation, there are many potential barriers. For the purposes of this paper I will focus on three: white privilege, language and mental health. The level of importance of these barriers depends on the type of mediation being utilized.
In an empirical study by Charkoudian and Wayne (2010), the effects of matching mediators and mediation participants by gender and by racial or ethnic identity group was explored. It considered both the effect on a participant of being present in a mediation session where there is no mediator of the same gender or racial/ethnic group and the effect of being present when there is also a mediator who matches the gender or race/ethnicity of the other participant. The results show that when an unmatched participant faces both an opposing participant and a mediator who share a racial or ethnic identifi...
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...d communication is developing a rapport with the parties (Zartman & Bercovitch, 2001). There are abundant findings about language in the African American community. In their research, Franklin and Hixon (1999) purport that speaking a language, therefore, is a special kind of coded behavior, to the extent that when a person does not speak a preferred language as is desired or expected in a society, that person may be perceived as an ignorant individual who does not share the same social knowledge and concepts as others.
Not judging language and being accepting of the differences in meanings is a way to be impartial. Impartiality is defined as freedom from favoritism, bias or prejudice. (“Model Standards”, 2005) “A mediator should not act with partiality or prejudice based on any participant’s personal characteristics, background, values and beliefs, or performance at
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