You Can’t Ignore Your Whiteness

We have to discuss white fragility.  Psychologist Robin DiAngelo defines white fragility as:

“a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”

Whiteness is something that we continue to allow people and especially white people to avoid and it must stop. Robin DiAngelo speaks from the perspective of a white woman and the injustices she has seen happen to other people of color in relationship to the anger expressed by white people when being called out for performing these injustices. She brings up the questions that I face as well which is “Why are white people so angry?”

person hiding under pile of pillows

DiAngelo explains how white people have “protective pillows” and these pillows are with them 24/7. These pillows include “resources and/or benefits of the doubt.” White people are only without their pillows for temporary amounts of time and by choice. In order to “remove” these pillows, higher education systems often require students to take a single multicultural or diversity related class. These classes usually very loosely involve diversity and can be satisfied in a variety of ways. In reality, this loose definition for “diversity” courses pushes the white fragility concept throughout education so these pillows don’t have to be removed and you don’t have to learn anything. It suggests that diversity education does not have to teach about race or racism, but rather just “multiculturalism” in some aspect. Given this concept of protection all throughout life starting at early education to higher education, how can we force the removal of  these “protective pillows” at an early age to prevent damage to people of color in their futures?