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Is white fragility real? Show more Show less
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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 exposes how white people are established as perfectly privileged and socialized to think they are superior

Whether conscious or not, feeling superior to other races is an unavoidable part of the white experience.

Context

The context of white fragility is within the United States of America, where pre-dominantly the race issue has been a race struggle between White Americans and Black and Indigenous people of color (BIPOC).

The Argument

Historically, white people have been taught that they are superior to other races. While these ideas have been rejected in recent decades, deep-seated racism and subconscious biases are still present in white people. Society still legitimizes the white experience by claiming white people as heroes and anyone else as villains, which reinforces white superiority. For example, the history curriculum in the United States only features white perspectives, creating one-sided narratives and white biases. White supremacy has been a part of the human social experience for hundreds of years. Importantly, the idea of race is a socially constructed topic; it is not real biological fact. Humans created ideas of race in order to separate each other and hold on to power.[1] White supremacy was further solidified through race relations. In places across the world, standards of beauty are seen to the "white ideal."[2] These standards mainly come from white colonizers, who imposed their ideas and standards onto native populations. For example, modern East Asian countries use skin lightening products in an attempt to recreate imposed white beauty standards of pale skin being favorable. These standards devalued local, indigenous cultures and created community biases that favored white standards. White supremacy has been established over centuries of degradation and colonization. But White supremacy is not reality. White fragility exposes white supremacy as an internal, unconscious bias white people hold.

Counter arguments

White fragility separates people further and deepens white biases. White fragility is an excuse for white people to feel better about their own racists biases and attitudes that have been imbedded in their lives. White fragility gives white people an avenue of pretend change that doesn't actually force change or true acknowledgment of non-white grievances. White fragility makes the topic of race nearly unapproachable.[3] White people instantly become defensive and are afraid to be labeled as racists by others. This confrontation allows white supremacy to continue and white biases to prevail. [3] By viewing white privilege as all evil and all bad, non-white people are left at a deeper disadvantage. Instead of viewing white fragility as an answer for white supremacy, white people can and should use their privileges to help spur racial equity. White fragility is not real, it is socially constructed to defend systemic racism and stop forward progress.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.vox.com/2014/10/10/6943461/race-social-construct-origins-census
  2. https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2019/02/06/685506578/is-beauty-in-the-eyes-of-the-colonizer
  3. https://guides.csbsju.edu/c.php?g=1058560&p=7693289
This page was last edited on Monday, 21 Sep 2020 at 03:12 UTC

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