What the Woman Who Invented the Term "White Fragility" Thinks About Trump

Comments

1
When WASPs lose control in the Pacific Northwest WE will be replaced with East Asians who will not will not waste their time with "Black Lives Matter" because they rose to the top by working harder, longer, and smarter than WASPs.
2
"Diversity Trainer". Sweet Jesus. Some people will do anything to avoid a day's work.
3
Is this an ad?
4
@3, I thought the same thing. The journalist could deign to toss in some alternative perspective? Like how absurd it is that white people pay to go to a workshop where a white lady 'splains to them the reasons why they should stop feeling normal and comfortable around people of color?

By the way, I just took "The Stranger" survey, and there were -- what? 81 questions? And not one was about ways readers would like to see the comment system here improved. But, yeah, there were also none about whether articles ever feel like regurgitated press releases.
5
Well, I suppose not everyone can study or work/study useful things like the sciences or engineering or mechanics or baking or accounting or material development or medicine or manufacturing processes or project management or construction or computing or writing or etc...and it's important to come up with a 'field of study' (snicker) with all the trappings of erudition and academic rigor in order to give mummy and poppy a sense that tuition payments for their precious dumpling isn't a complete waste...
(double snicker)
7
@6, nice tepid teaspoon of sarcasm there. But absurdity is still absurdity, no matter what the self-elected Trigger Police of today's thread say.
8
It's funny and sad but entirely predictable that the majority of commenters on an article like this will prove its thesis without the slightest whiff of self-awareness.
9
@4: You would be amazed at how lazy some news editors are. When I was in college, I worked for the PR office for a few years, and wrote press releases for campus events and news. You would be amazed at how many times I opened up a local paper, or even the Washington Post in some cases, to see my press releases, more or less unchanged, with someone else's name on them.

And The Stranger is not the Post.
10
@9, People mostly live at the edge of the envelope of what they can get away with/what external resources they can tap.
11
@8 Yep.
12
Shorter @1 - 4: "#notallwhitepeople"...
13
I really want to give Robin DiAngelo the benefit of the doubt here, but I'm having difficulty.
A little context.
I'm from Detroit. I've lived around POC my entire life. I've worked with black people (most African Americans who live around here refer to themselves and each other as black), and I've worked for black people. I've lived with, loved and married a black woman. She and I have children together, and even though we divorced years ago and our children are grown, we are still friends. Even though I have experienced the hatred of racists first-hand, I will never know what it means to be anyone other than myself.
I've even been called 'the n word' by racists, but I know it didn't make me feel the same way it makes my son feel.
Back to the point at hand.
I don't see how a white woman that lives in a predominantly white city can teach other white people anything about race that they shouldn't already know.
It seems to me that what Robin DiAngelo is actually doing is to continue to 'other' POC while simultaneously telling white people that it is ok for them to not feel empathy for POC.
In fact, the concept of 'white fragility' puts forth the idea that the default reaction of white people when confronted with issues of race is hostility instead of empathy.
The truth is, when issues of race are brought up for discussion many white people believe they are being blamed for something they feel they have no control over, and for crimes that they are innocent of. White people often hear 'white privilege' or 'white fragility' and feel they are being personally attacked.

Anyone who benefits from oppression has an ethical responsibility to end oppression.
That's what we need to teach our children, and each other.
As I said before, I believe that Robin DiAngelo is trying to do what she believes to be the right thing, but I'm afraid that what she is actually doing is perpetuating the status quo.
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@13, well said.

@12, putting a hashtag in front of a phrase doesn't automatically make it make sense, though I suppose to some it lends the phrase some at-a-glance cachet.
15
Shorter @12: #imbetterthanyou
16
"And trust me, they don't fucking do it after that."

Well yeah. You came off like a total jerk over the fact that somebody dared to look at their phone.
17
It all ends up in an infinite loop of 'h
18
It all ends up in an infante loop of "what I think is being perceived" to "what is actually being perceived" over an endless quest to be 100% racism free.
19
How did I know she would be wearing a big chunk of turquoise jewelry?
20
I don't believe for a second that these authoritarian cultists are sincere. White guilt exists to demonstrate superiority over others and has nothing to do with the kind of legitimate guilt that keeps a person up at night. "White fragility" was invented to shut down debate by privileged neurotics who can't tolerate criticism of their unfalsifiable post-modern ideologies. People like this are the reason Trump was elected. The left is a snake eating itself.
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@20, most of your post didn't make a lot of sense to me (deliberate mish-mash?), but your last sentence is right on.
22
@14:

Sorry, I didn't realize you'd just crawled out from under a rock. Perhaps this will help clarify for you.

@15:

Better than you in particular? Yeah, probably.
23
@22, I don't actually live under a rock, so that's nonsensical. Wait... it's an insult?!

And we're you being ironic giving me a free 'splaining workshop right here through the internet? A link to a list of "Insufferable People Who Derail Discussions" that conveniently leaves off "The Commenter Who Condescendingly Assigns Others Homework Because He or She Knows Best."
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@22: Actually, people who create insufferable people lists are themselves insufferable.
25
"The truth is, when issues of race are brought up for discussion many white people believe they are being blamed for something they feel they have no control over, ..."

Right, isn't that exactly what "white fragility" is talking about? White people feeling blamed a lot of times for a lot of things they're not actually getting blamed for. White people feeling asked to control the past they can't control, at times when that's not what's being asked. If you're disagreeing with her, could you spell it out?

"I don't see how a white woman that lives in a predominantly white city can teach other white people anything about race that they shouldn't already know."

Nothing they *shouldn't* know, but do you think everybody knows everything they should know?
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@25
"If you're disagreeing with her, could you spell it out?"
I did spelled it out just a few sentences before the one you quoted:

It seems to me that what Robin DiAngelo is actually doing is to continue to 'other' POC while simultaneously telling white people that it is ok for them to not feel empathy for POC.
In fact, the concept of 'white fragility' puts forth the idea that the default reaction of white people when confronted with issues of race is hostility instead of empathy.

As to your second point, I don't think everyone knows what they *should* know, but it should be obvious to everyone that people of color deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
People shouldn't need that whitesplained to them.

I feel that terms like "White privilege" and "White fragility are counterproductive for two main reasons.
First, it puts some white people immediately on the defensive. It makes them feel they need to defend themselves, rather than showing them the underlying causes and consequences of racism.
Second, it minimizes the real problem by suggesting that racism is simply a lack of privilege. It isn't.
The real problem would better be described as Black Subjugation.
Being respected as a human being is not a privilege.
Not being harassed, beaten or killed by law enforcement isn't a privilege.
Not being subjected to discrimination in employment or housing isn't a privilege.
Basically, having your constitutional rights protected isn't a privilege, it's the way all people should be treated.

The racism in our culture isn't due to a lack of privilege, it is due to the intentional subjugation of black people.

Let me put it another way.
Privilege is granted by the whim of authority, and can therefore be easily revoked.

An authoritarian, like our current president, may believe that the best way to end racism is to revoke "white privilege" instead of ending black subjugation.
It's easy enough to imagine tRump thinking something along these lines:
"If we allow the police to kill more unarmed white people, black people will have nothing to complain about."

Concepts like white privilege and white fragility serve to further minimize racism by viewing racism through the lenses of eurocentrism.

Tl;Dr
Racism isn't about white people being treated too well, it's about the subjugation of black people.
The problem isn't about "privelidges" white people have, it's the rights that black people are denied.
27
Thanks for the response! I see your point about the term "privilege", but I think if that terminological issue were the last thing we had as an open problem, we'd be doing a lot better... But I'm not really disagreeing on the "privilege" naming (though I don't know that "subjugation" does everything either).

I read it again and I still don't see how she's telling white people it's okay not to feel empathy; she's just saying it happens. She's not saying all white people do it, either, just that it's pervasive and a lot of white people grow up with it and have to work past it.

My understanding is she's trying *not* to put white people on the defensive here. She's trying to name it and make it easier to step outside and see. She's saying it's not your fault you feel this, but here's how it operates and here's the effect.

If she didn't tag it "white" would that work better for you?
28
@13

I mostly agree with you but not quite 100%, at least for me.

I not only feel like I'm being personally attacked but I also feel like racism is being used as a sort of backdoor "original sin", meaning that we are always racist, will never not be racist, and basically have to live in fear of hurting POC who we hang out with but we still have to hang out with them because if we don't we are even more racist.

That said, this topic is especially sensitive to me because I spent time in anti-racist work against neo Nazis and lost many friends and my religion because of it.

29
@27
Thank you. It's nice to see that civil dialogue is still possible online.

I don't know how to put this, other than to say that DiAngelo's work (as described by this article) seems inauthentic to me. I'd like to believe that her intentions are good, but my gut says otherwise.
I think it was the comment about the joke that offended her coworker that first bothered me. Black women's hair has always been an issue, and we've seen multiple instances recently. One helped create the black women at work hashtag. Michelle Obama wearing her hair naturally while on vacation made news recently also. I can't begin to adequately express what an incredibly charged issue the discussion of black women's hair can be, so I will recommend: You Can’t Touch My Hair
AND OTHER THINGS I STILL HAVE TO EXPLAIN
By PHOEBE ROBINSON
http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/…
It seems to me that someone who leads diversity workshops should have known better.

My opinions on DiAngelo's work are based on the feeling i got reading the article, and I'm sure she isn't trying to be a white knight, but that's how she comes across to me.
That begs the question: Do "white knights" that "other" POC ever realize what they are doing?

30
@28
"this topic is especially sensitive to me because I spent time in anti-racist work against neo Nazis and lost many friends and my religion because of it."

I hope you did that work to try and make this world a better place, and not for people to think you are some kind of hero.

Just remember, what other people think of you doesn't matter.
You know who you are, and goodness is its own reward.
31
@30

I did it because it was the right thing to do and because it was what my grandfather and his friends(who fought actual for reals Nazis) would have done. I did it because I want a world where better really does mean better for everyone. Since it happened I think I can count the times I've brought it up on one hand, usually when people ask me about my religious life(and from time to time I even leave that part out, it isn't exactly awesome to bring up) or when someone tries to tell me how racist I am so they will leave me alone and stop badgering me to feel even more guilty and awful than I already do.

And I'm no hero, not really. Not unless you mean in the "the hero pays the price" sense.

I would have to disagree about goodness being it's own reward(doesn't pay for my therapy bills or fill that hole in my heart I ended up with for my trouble), but that's a whole other discussion.
32
@29 this time I'm glad I stayed past all the racist troll comments.

Was she genuinely being humble about her flaws telling that bad joke story on herself, or was she in effect flaunting her ability to get away with it in the end? I don't know. You certainly may be right that she's overestimating her own authenticity on this, and you'll probably have better radar on that than I do. But would it read differently in person instead of through this reporting? (not knocking the reporting, but it's a filter)

I still feel like her writing pointed out something illuminating that applies to me, that I do over-personalize and see anyone talking about racism in my actions as personally attacking me even when somebody's being careful not to. Okay maybe I should have known that already, but I didn't, so I learned something.

Still chewing on your racism-through-eurocentric-lenses point.
33
Wow, another middle-aged white chick with an ethnic studies degree who pushes an unfalsifiable Grand Narrative pertaining to sociopolitical matters. How devastatingly original.
34
@31
Now you've got me curious.
What religion did you leave, and why were they against you working with an anti neo-nazi group?
Who were the friends you lost, were they pro Nazi?
Most importantly, who are these insufferable assholes that are calling you a racists, and why do They?
It sounds like you are better off without your old religion and your old friends, and you'd probably be better off without the new friends that feel the need to harass you.
You sound like a good person to me, and I think you deserve better than that.
35
@32
I'm glad you stuck around too. You've helped me to realize some of my own personal biases.
I don't know what it's like to live in a smaller community like Seattle (I'm assuming you live there), and I don't know what it's like to live in a community with so few African Americans.

The fact that she helped you realize something about yourself means she is doing good work, and I can see that I have been to critical of her.

As far as racism through the lenses of eurocentrism, I see that I should have better explained myself.
I think that white people tend to worry too much about fixing themselves and fighting against their own internal biases, rather than actually trying to end systemic racism.
We all need to do our best to better ourselves, but we also need to realize that our personal biases will always be with us, and that microaggressions are inevitable. We are all only human.
In my opinion the most important thing we can do is to try to end systemic racism, and work to better the lives of those who have been negatively affected by it.

Thank you for taking the time to respond, I've found our dialogue very enlightening.
I'll be checking back tomorrow to see if Ghostdog answered any of my questions. I'm very curious to find out why he surrounds himself with so many negative people. He sounds like a very nice guy.
If you do get this message, did you have personal contact with Robin DiAngelo, or was this article your introduction to her work?
36
Ahhh...yes. The stranger...the seattle progressive's version of Breitbart. Facts optional. And if somehow you read this and your reaction is that this is kind of silly, well, you are just confirming the thesis.

Well, wait, is it a thesis? What is white fragility, actually? In my experience, there is no question that some people, and perhaps even most people are uncomfortable discussing race at some point in their lives. I've also been uncomfortable discussing the holocaust at times, or when I lived in China, the cultural revolution. I get uncomfortable at times when I think about living on a planet that will be subsumed by the sun in a few hundred million years as well.

Could you have just written an article with the title "Some white people are sometimes uncomfortable talking about race"? Or even "some people of all races are sometimes uncomfortable talking about race"?

Of course not, because that wouldn't service your purpose, or reinforce the already existent beliefs of your Seattle progressive bubble readers. It's helpful to have a bogeyman, and for the Seattle progressive, white people are the bogeyman. White fragility gives a nice handle/stereotype forthe 10-20% of people here in Seattle who just want to jam their identity politics agenda down everyone else's throat.

Don't like accelerated programs in the schools? Get rid of them and tell people you can't let white fragility stop you.

The problem I most have with this is that it is so intellectually lazy - this lady is actually teaching people? Are you kidding me? This thing, white fragility exists because I say it does? And here's a poem that confirms it? Come on, for real?
37
How many exhibits of White/European Emotional Fragility have been posted on this thread?
38
I cannot thank you enough, Dr. DiAngelo. Your articulation of white fragility led to my recent epiphany that the fragility as well as a host of other dysfunctional social behaviors (emotional bullying, gaslighting, victim envy, victim blaming, fake meritocracy, not to mention narrative-hijacking by conservatives *and* liberals alike, etc.) are rooted in white narcissism that traces all the way back to chattel slavery, when at its apex enabled the narcissists to hold their victims captive and abuse them physically as well as emotionally. This new perspective makes me feel less vulnerable to micro-aggressions in my daily life as a URM in a STEM career. I've become much better at calling narcissists' BS and letting it flow past me. I have been sharing your work with my friends. Please keep up the very valuable work.