“Race is perhaps one of the most difficult topics to discuss in contemporarysociety. Although race influences so many aspects of everyday life, we areoften hesitant and sometimes afraid to broach, openly discuss or acknowledgethe impact of racial issues in our daily lives. As such, race and how it affectssociety holds power over people in complex and sometimes insidious ways.”– Racial Colour Blindness, Burkard et al. (2016)
This tension also has a profound impact on counsellors and consultants. There are two main perspectives:
- Open discussions of racial concerns is vital to address the needs clients
- Such discussions are unnecessary and perhaps overshadows important issues
The second is consistent with a concept known as Racial Colour Blindness (CBRI). CBRI is occurs when racial differences are ignored and stresses that everyone is the same or has the same life opportunities. For a period of time, this was a dominant belief amongst practitioners as early research yielded inconsistent findings whether race had any significant impact on obtaining quality information and in helping clients.
As the multicultural movement in psychology emerged, support for the first perspective quickly picked up by many. New models had the potential to rethink what it meant to be a society that consisted of culturally unique entities, whether as individuals or groups. They had the potential to explain the gaps in prior findings and forge consoling practice and research towards a more considerate approach by examining each individual holistically.
The first perspective is best described as an alternative worldview to CBRI termed Multicultural Ideology (MCI). Multicultural Ideology emphasises on recognising, understanding and celebrating differences. It consists of two parts: race-consciousness and oppression-consciousness. A race-conscious approach involves active measures to understanding the racial heritage of clients. The oppression-conscious embraces awareness of power differences, discrimination and oppressive systems.
Multiculturalism in the workplace is associated with driving the productivity of workers, enriching experiences at work, encouraging flow of inventive ideas, and forms an open-minded and positive area to contribute ideas. Understandably, the support for multiculturalism within organisations rapidly increased over the years. We need to continue to reinforce the Multicultural Ideology. In an objective sense, this will complement the trend. In general, it will promote inclusivity, balance in the workforce and ensure the absence of culture and/or race no longer restricts depth in counselling or consulting processes.
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Neville, H., Gallardo, M., & Sue, D. (2016). The myth of racial color blindness. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.