The impetus for this study was the seemingly increasing occurrences of
racism among post-apartheid Afrikaans speaking urban adolescents in South
Africa by taking a narrative practical theological perspective on the matter.
This study, in particular, explored the dialogue(s), spiritual values and
awareness levels of participants using transversal rationality.
Two questions guided the investigation: (i) How deeply embedded are
stereotypes of racism (traditions of interpretation) in the lives of the
aforementioned adolescents?; and (ii) How can we instigate honest dialogue
aiding us in being more aware of our biases in order to embrace diversity in
our so-called rainbow nation and going forward as a unity in diversity?
From an epistemological perspective, a postfoundational, social
constructionist perspective including an auto-ethnographical approach was
followed. This supports the research design which was based on narrative,
practical theological principles.
In the thesis, an attempt is made to come to a better holistic understanding of
the history of racism in South Africa as to guide us to move beyond our own
‘socially-constructed’ ideas. The research indicated that Afrikaner
adolescents could live life unquestioned from a position of power that was
culturally inherited, bringing to the fore the crucial aspect of awareness.
It was found that by objectifying relationships (I-It) diverse engagement
becomes almost impossible. Consequently this thesis advocates for a
subjective (I-Thou) approach towards building relationships in a context where
people feel vulnerable and shameful, have fears, but also gain trust to
contribute to meaningful dialogue with ‘others’. The study also disclosed how
material options in life disintegrate when spirituality is viewed as a ‘lived
experience’. This view is not forced, controlled, or managed; it is simply the IThou
walking into our lives. Typical within a postfoundational practical theological study like this,
interdisciplinary participants were invited to give some perspectives from their
fields of expertise consisting of a psychologist, social worker and an
economist. These participants highlighted fears that came to the fore when
questions on identity were raised, as well as fears for the lived world. The
manner in which social constructs affected our logic and the numbness that
powerlessness has left were also raised as issues that need our attention.
They strongly advocated for a greater understanding and knowledge
(awareness) of each other as a means to overcome their fears and issues.
Although this practical theological research acknowledges some limitations, it
stands proud in contributing towards practical theology, post-apartheid
research and narrative pastoral reflections that enables and inspires new
research possibilities. The study concludes by suggesting a framework of
acceptance (of one self), being vulnerable (creating trust through weakness
and being aware), having significance (from ‘others’ or God’s perspective) and
consistently contributing towards a racist free environment (as a result of the
other three stages). Rather than the other way around starting with
contribution (doing things only to be seen), working towards significance (of
myself), avoiding vulnerability (I am not weak), ending with acceptance (from
others for the time being).