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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?

No, white fragility does not exist Show more Show less

This group sees white fragility as a flawed thesis that undermines meaningful conversations about race.
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White fragility patronises Black people

The theory asks white people for a level of racial sensitivity that demeans and dehumanizes black people. It suggests that they must be treated like children, and acts in opposition to black empowerment.
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Proponents


The Argument

The idea of white fragility is patronizing to Black people. By acknowledging white fragility, white people can become patronizing and hyper-aware of their interactions with other people, which only perpetuates differences and tense race relations.[1] White fragility does not empower Black people, but makes white people treat them as children with extreme care and sensitivity, instead of equal humans. [2] White fragility promotes racism by separating white people further from non-whites and making dialogue between races something that people fear. For example, white fragility claims that white people will never be able to overcome their biases and that they should keep silent and not communicate their grievances because Black people have it worse. White fragility is an excuse for white people to dehumanize and treat Black people as lesser than themselves through patronization or condescension. It can also be an excuse for white people to not have conversations with Black people at all. [1] White fragility does not empower Black people and allows white people to continue dehumanizing and upholding the systemic racism that creates barriers and hardships to Black people.

Counter arguments

White fragility is real and forces white people to acknowledge their own privileges and biases in order to be more empathetic. Understanding white privilege and the embedded nature of white supremacy in the United States will help bring an end to systemic racism and the dehumanization of Black people. [3] Furthermore, the concept of white fragility allows for more open dialogue between white and Black people, which is beneficial to strengthening interpersonal relationships and ending racism. White fragility is real and a concept that forces white people to evaluate their own privilege and biases so they can lift up Black people and empower them by using white privilege to promote change for Black people.

Premises

Rejecting the premises


References

  1. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/dehumanizing-condescension-white-fragility/614146/
  2. https://www.foxnews.com/media/john-mcwhorter-white-fragility-robin-diangelo-atlantic
  3. https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/fall-2018/what-is-white-privilege-really

This page was last edited on Monday, 21 Sep 2020 at 19:02 UTC

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