Original Research

White Fragility, White Supremacy and White Normativity Make Theological Dialogue on Race Difficult

Kelebogile T. Resane
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 55, No 1 | a2661 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v55i1.2661 | © 2021 Kelebogile T. Resane | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 July 2020 | Published: 25 January 2021

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Kelebogile T. Resane, Department of Historical and Constructive Theology, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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South Africa is historically a nation of binaries. The most significant been the binary of black and white. In this case, black refers to all people of African and Asian descent or origin. Historical racism is examined in the light of white fragility, supremacy and normativity as ideologies that make it difficult for people to live together in one united democratic nation upholding the culture of human rights. The objective of this article is to propose dialogues on racism that, although triggering a range of defensive actions, feelings and behaviours such as anger, fear and silence should generate hope. Literature study is widely used for both definitions and methods of the research findings regarding white fragility, supremacy and normativity to suppress opportunities of dialogue. In order to address these anomalies, theological dialogue on the race problem is invited to follow five steps. These are looking back to move forward or come closer, moving from reaction to interaction, moving from exclusion to participation, moving from isolation to integration and, finally, promoting the fact that self-giving and openness are the ideal theological approach. Racism is a sin against God and against humanity. Despite the apparent persistence and legacy of racism, there is hope. Through dialogue, there is an understanding of another person’s struggle, which brings some valuable perspectives.

Contribution: The key concepts of white fragility, racism, supremacy, and normativity inform the reader of the problem faced by social scientists such as theologians, but proposes a solution that comes through dialogue which follows the five steps to address the problem of racism.


white; racism; supremacy; normativity; fragility; theology; dialogue.


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