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Is white fragility real?

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

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.

White fragility looks at how white people become defensive when racism is discussed

Raising racism emotionally triggers white people. This reaction ensures white people do not have to engage with the issue.

White fragility highlights that only non-whites are "raced"

The debate hinges on the fact that white people are seen as at the default, or normal, race in Western society. Those who diverge from this are "raced" by virtue of having a skin colour that affects how people respond to them.

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.

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.

No, white fragility does not exist

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

White fragility is a racist concept

The theory attacks all white people on the basis of their skin colour. This reductive victimisation of whites is racism in action.

White Fragility has an epistemological problem

White fragility bases its thesis on implicit bias research which not conclusive and does not employ rigor in hypothesis testing. The thesis is unfalsifiable and is therefore nonscientific, like Freud's psychoanalytic insights into the unconscious mind from the faulty premise of the Oedipus complex.

White fragility prevents meaningful dialogue

The idea legitimises, and even promotes, dismissing white concerns. In that, it actively denies people the opportunity to debate racism and its wider contexts.

White fragility typifies Social Justice Warrior fragility

White fragility is yet another example of an SJW "debate silencing"technique. That itself, is part of the same genre of cancel culture that prefers to shut down opposition with entirely defamatory claims than engage with it.

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.

White fragility is white supremacy

It is ironic that people are choosing to overcome anti-black racism by buying a book about whiteness, written by a white person. That this idea has become so popular reveals how entrenched white supremacy is at every level, not the strength of the idea.

If race is a construct, white fragility cannot exist

Race, like gender, is a construct. To suggest otherwise is to participate in dangerous eugenic ideas. Therefore, white fragility cannot exist.

The white fragility focus on white guilt oversimplifies a very complex debate

The way racism is reproduced across generations is a very complex subject. Reducing the problem to white guilt and genetic identity fails to acknowledge the innumerable other contributing factors.

White fragility fails to acknowledge that racism is collective, not individual

We cannot blame racism on individual racial identity. Racism is the fault of wider systemic prejudices and collective behaviours.

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 15 Sep 2020 at 04:57 UTC