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< Back to question Is white fragility real? Show more Show less

In July 2020, "White Fragility" topped the New York Times Bestseller list. Though two years had passed since its publication, protests following George Floyd's murder thrust its controversial theory of race back into the mainstream. Written by University of Washington Professor Robin DiAngelo, the book claims that white people sustain racism by refusing to engage with it. The idea assumes that white people consider themselves the "default" race, and actively avoid and undermine challenges to this worldview. As the thesis has gained traction, it has also come under criticism for being reductive and choosing to see entire populations based on race. So, who are the groups forming around this debate, what do they believe and why?

Yes, white fragility is real Show more Show less

This group believes that white fragility is evidenced in our lived experience. Internalised bias is an essential part of the white experience, which drives systemic racism.
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White fragility promotes ending racism through open dialogue

White people avoid talking about race. Yet, societies can only overcome their own racism by confronting privilege and implicit bias.
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The Argument

Acknowledging bias and privilege is the first step in achieving racial equity and equality. Understanding the implications of white supremacy through white fragility will help end systemic racism and underlying biases that white people hold. Discussing how white people have been socially, economically, and politically privileged throughout most of international history forces them to see the consequences of their own supremacy. The consequences of white supremacy are the repression of other communities, systemic racism, and violence. Conversations around white fragility have already opened up dialogue between communities about how to combat social biases and systemic racism. [1] Open dialogue is the first step in ending racism. As communities talk with each other and share their grievances, white people will better understand their role in ending systemic racism through changing their perceptions of race and acknowledging their own privilege. [2] White privilege exists in almost every facet of everyday life, and while privilege can go unnoticed by a white person, non-white people feel the implications of white people ignoring and not understanding their privilege every day. [2] Continuing to discuss white fragility and its implications will open more dialogue to end racism.

Counter arguments

The idea of white fragility is patronizing to non-white people. By acknowledging white fragility, white people can become patronizing and hyper-aware of their interactions with other people, which only perpetuates differences and race relations.[3] Unpacking the biases that white people have about race takes a lifetime. Understanding white fragility alone will not facilitate the end of racism. The education system in most countries teaches implicit white supremacy, and unraveling those themes takes much more than open dialogue and understanding white fragility.[4] It will take policy change and international shifts in how humans view each other and themselves. White fragility promotes racism by separating white people further from non-whites and making dialogue between races something that people fear instead of welcome.


Rejecting the premises



This page was last edited on Tuesday, 15 Sep 2020 at 20:26 UTC

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