The Role of Ethnicity in Mediator-Party Relations

Stephen Thom

CRS Mediator, Los Angeles Office


[Full Interview]


When you come into a case, does your own race or ethnicity play a role?


Well, being of Asian ancestry, I think it has really been an asset in a lot of ways. I'll tell you why. With Native Americans, they respect Asians because we have strong family values and a high regard for education. When I talk to Native Americans, they say, "Oh, your people hold a high respect for family and elders." There's a click there. They can identify with that. When I work with the Latino community, they tend to be more passive and they tend to have strong family convictions, and they respect that in the Asian population. When I work with African-American communities -- I used to live in South Central -- often I fall into a black dialect very naturally. When I tell them I grew up in South Central, and where I grew up and what church I went to and all that, it takes a lot of tension and distrust out of the relationship. Asian Americans are accepted as a minority that has experienced prejudice, and that opens doors for me in race-related mediation.