WHITE FRAGILITY

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1. White people in North America live in a social environment protecting and insulating them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds White expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate White racial equilibrium. Explicating the dynamics of White Fragility.

2. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress be-comes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.

3. White Fragility is the thing which restricts your knowledge, shuts down conversations before they start, and invites you to lie to yourselves.

4. White people invent different ways to wriggle out of, dominate, or shut down the conversation.

5. White people are lazy; they expect to be served knowledge about race and racism in palatable doses, they have the ability to actively seek knowledge and understanding, yet so many don’t put in the effort to do so. The work of seeing the barriers to true meritocracy, the work of putting themselves in the shoes of Indigenous/Black/Latinx people to learn more about their experiences and perceptions, the work of understanding how being White has shaped their worldview and self-perceptions, and the work of gaining the skills of deciphering and managing cross-racial and cultural dynamics. That’s a lot of work, but without it you cannot create fundamental change in your sphere of influence.

6. They (racist government systems) try to criminalize our children from the time they can walk. Incarceration is the new slavery. It breaks up black families and takes away any power we have. Our young male black children are suspended, expelled, profiled, arrested for things that whites would not be over and over until they are finally locked up often for things they would not lock up a white person for. Not to mention the beatings and killings by law enforcement and the courts look the other way.

7. If you don’t want me to talk about the past stop celebrating it.

8. Nayyirah Waheed ~ ever trust anyone who says they do not see color. This means to them, you are invisible.

9. Studies show Whites have a very different experience with law enforcement than everyone else. Studies indicate police officers are more respectful to Whites during stops and less likely to use force on White suspects. Additionally studies found police also less likely to stop Whites or search their vehicles during traffic stops even though White drivers were found more likely to be stopped with guns and drugs in their possession.

10. White Americans hate being told their history through a Black persons lens !!!!! Just own up to it, White US citizens are so quick to pull the “not all of us are like this”. Stop deflecting and denying the wrong, pain and deprivation White people are still causing to anyone who doesn’t look like them.

11. When you have conditions of segregation, it’s easy for people to let their fears dominate how they view the world.

12. How do White Supremacists claim to be the Master Race while also claiming Jews control everything, Blacks are Stronger and Asians are smarter?

13. There are a lot of reasons White people have such a low threshold for discomfort. For one, they tend to lead segregated lives, and think of themselves as individuals as opposed to members of a group. They receive constant messages Whiteness is valuable, and they’re used to feeling a sense of belonging in most spaces. All of this leads to a huge sense of entitlement to being not only comfortable, but correct, at all times. Even once they are exposed to the existence of these dynamics they are often at a loss as to how to talk about it. They do everything to avoid talking about race in any real way, including saying nonsense like “Jesse Owens is one of the classiest individuals that ever lived”. “Mohammad Ali transcended race” when we really mean “Jesse Owens and Mohammad Ali was retroactively deemed safe by fragile White people.”

14. The term “White Privilege” is an extremely gentle way of easing White people into awareness. The use of “Privilege” conjures up images of wealth, something Americans typically associate with stature, but it could just as easily been something like “White Undeserved Advantage” but that would only serve to shut down conversation of the ‘Fragile White’ person.

16. Systemic and institutional control allows those who are White in the U.S. to live in a social environment which protects and insulates them from race-based stress. The ‘Powers That Be’ have organized society to reproduce and reinforce racial interests and perspectives and are centered in all matters deemed normal, universal, benign, neutral and good. Thus, we move through a wholly racialized world with an unracialized identity (e.g. White people can represent all of humanity; People of Color can only represent their racial selves). Challenges to this identity become highly stressful and even intolerable.

a) Suggesting that a White person’s viewpoint comes from a racialized frame of reference (challenge to objectivity)
b) People of Color talking directly about their own racial perspectives (challenge to white taboos on talking openly about race)
c) People of Color choosing not to protect the racial feelings of White people in regards to race (challenge to White racial expectations and need/entitlement to racial comfort)
d) People of Color not being willing to tell their stories or answer questions about their racial experiences (challenge to the expectation People of Color will serve them)
e) A fellow White not providing agreement with one’s racial perspective (challenge to White Solidarity)
f) Receiving feedback that one’s behavior had a racist impact (challenge to White Racial Innocence)
g) Suggesting that group membership is significant (challenge to individualism)
h) An acknowledgment that access is unequal between racial groups (challenge to meritocracy)
i) Being presented with a Person of Color in a position of leadership (challenge to White Authority)
j) Being presented with information about other racial groups through, for example, movies in which People of Color drive the action but are not in stereotypical roles, or multicultural education (challenge to White Centrality)
Not often encountering these challenges, White people withdraw, defend, cry, argue, minimize, ignore, and in other ways push back to regain our racial position and equilibrium.

17. Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement White people are either not consciously aware or can never admit to themselves, they become highly fragile in conversations about race. Experiencing a challenge of their racial worldview is a challenge to their very identities as good, moral people. It also challenges their sense of rightful place in the hierarchy. Thus, they perceive any attempt to connect to the system of racism as a very unsettling and unfair moral offense.

18. If you’re not aware of having negative thoughts about People of Color, don’t tell racist jokes, are nice, and even have Friends of Color, then you cannot be racist. Therefore, a person is either racist or not racist; if a person is racist, that person is bad; if a person is not racist, that person is good. The good/bad binary is the fundamental misunderstanding driving White Fragility/Defensiveness about being connected to racism. You simply do not understand how socialization and implicit bias work.

19. Entitlement to racial comfort: In the dominant position, Whites are almost always racially comfortable and have developed unchallenged expectations to remain so. They have not had to build tolerance for racial discomfort and when racial discomfort arises, Whites typically respond as if something is “wrong,” and blame the person or event which triggered the discomfort (usually a Person of Color). This blame results in a socially-sanctioned array of responses towards the perceived source of the discomfort, including: penalization; retaliation; isolation and refusal to continue engagement. Since racism is necessarily uncomfortable in that it is oppressive, White insistence on Racial Comfort guarantees racism will not be faced except in the most superficial of ways.

20. Most White people have a very limited understanding of racism because they haven’t been trained to think in complex ways about it and because it benefits White Dominance not to do so. Yet, they have no compunction about debating the knowledge of people who have thought complexly about race. Due to Racial Arrogance Whites generally dismiss informed perspectives rather than have the humility to acknowledge they are unfamiliar or want to reflect and seek more information.

21. White people enjoy a deeply internalized, largely unconscious sense of racial belonging in U.S. society. In virtually any situation or image deemed valuable in dominant society, Whites belong. The interruption of racial belonging is rare, destabilizing and frightening to Whites who typically avoid frequenting Black neighborhoods.

22. White people don’t carry the social burden of race. They move easily through society without a sense of themselves as racialized. Race is for People of Color to think about, it is what happens to “them”; they can bring it up if it is an issue for them (although if they do, White people can dismiss it as a personal problem, the race card, or the reason for their problems). This allows Whites much more psychological energy to devote to other issues and prevents them from developing the stamina to sustain attention on an issue as charged and uncomfortable as race.

23. Living in a White dominant context, they receive constant messages they’re better and more important than People of color: history textbooks, historical representations and perspectives; media and advertising; teachers, role-models, heroes and heroines; everyday discourse on “good” neighborhoods and schools and whose in them; popular TV shows centered around friendship circles are primarily White; religious iconography that depicts God, White Jesus, and majority of government and political figures are White. While one may explicitly reject the notion one is inherently better than another, one cannot avoid internalizing the message of White Superiority, as it is pervasive in mainstream culture.

24. Privileges and White Fragility mentality results prevent them from listening to or comprehending the perspectives of People of Color and bridging cross-racial divides. The antidote to White Fragility is on-going and life-long, and includes sustained engagement, humility, and education. You can begin by:

a) Being willing to tolerate the discomfort associated with an honest appraisal and discussion of internalized superiority and racial privilege.
b) Challenging your own racial reality by acknowledging yourself as racial beings with a particular and limited perspective on race.
c) Attempting to understand the racial realities of people of color through authentic interaction rather than through the media or unequal relationships.
Taking action to address your own racism, the racism of other Whites, and the racism embedded in our institutions. In other words get educated and act.

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