Back to RJ Archive

Reconciliation: Building a Bridge from Complicity to Coherence in the Rhetoric of Race Relations

Hatch, John B
June 4, 2015

Source: (2003) Rhetoric & Public Affairs. 6(4): 737-764.

Race relations “racial inequality and racial antagonism” remain a significant problem in the United States, writes John Hatch. Concurrently, there is an international trend toward interethnic and interracial reconciliation, as witnessed in South Africa, Australia, Ireland, and other countries. Initiatives to overcome ethnic and racial conflicts have included such measures as public confession, apology, forgiveness, and even reparation in some cases. One commentator on the subject of race, Mark Lawrence McPhail, has briefly noted the potential value and validity of racial reconciliation in light of his theory of “rhetoric as coherence.” Yet, he has not explored this idea in depth. In response, Hatch in this article aims to show that public intergroup reconciliation can constitute a substantial “not merely verbal” rhetorical bridge between the reality of racism and McPhail’s ideal of coherence. Hatch calls this coherent reconciliation — reconciliation consisting not of mere rhetoric — but of efforts to build a solidly grounded bridge from a racist past to a more just and harmonious interracial future.


AbstractCourtsPost-Conflict ReconciliationPrisonsRestorative PracticesRJ and the WorkplaceRJ in SchoolsRJ OfficeTeachers and StudentsVictim Support
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now