🐞 🐞 🐞 🐞 🐞
June 26, 2018
This book has been absolutely eye-opening for me. I’ve taken so many notes, I can hardly fit all of my thoughts in one review. I’ll just share one last thing for now…
One of the things that has surprised me most while watching people react to George Floyd and the protests over the past couple weeks is how intense it’s become between white people—and often white people who are on the same side of the debate. I’ve seen friendships blown apart because two friends can’t seem to come to a consensus on how to react to current events. How can it be that people who agree that black lives matter, that racism exists and is awful and needs to end, can’t have a calm conversation about it?
It wasn’t until I finished White Fragility that I started to get it. In the book, author Robin DiAngelo points out that most white people have been insulated from race-based stress their whole lives. We’re not used to talking about our race. We don’t see ourselves as “white people,” we see ourselves as “people.” THEY are black, but we just are. THEY have to talk about THEIR race problems but if we don’t acknowledge our race, well, then we don’t have any problems. As a result, our denial keeps us from ever having to build the capacity to endure racial stress.
Conversations about race are uncomfortable for a lot of white people, and we have some (sadly) pretty predictable and often knee-jerk reactions when we can’t avoid them. We get angry, defensive, ashamed, weepy, argumentative, silent, and sometimes we just completely withdraw. We often don’t have the emotional capacity or even the basic words to have a calm and intelligent conversation about race, not with other white people and especially not with people of color. 🤯
I’ll admit that, looking back, I can absolutely see that I’ve reacted this way in past conversations. But I want to do better. We were all born into a world of white supremacy. That may not be any one person’s fault at this point, but we are each responsible for our roles in it.
Bottom line, instead of getting defensive or weepy when talking about race, I hope we can all take a deep breath, make room for the uncomfortable feelings knowing that we’re strong enough to handle them, and simply listen.