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14 February 2015 @ 10:12 am
on white fragility  
Apparently my post here has recently turned up on Making Light, BoingBoing, and Metafilter.

(Which of course makes me wish I'd written it better! And as one commenter on BoingBoing TOTALLY correctly points out, I left out college-educated in my listing of what makes the prototype. Which is not a coincidence at all; we tend not to think about the ways in which we ourselves are prototypical/default.)

But it also means I'm filtering non-friend comments now. Because we get gems like this: [edit to add: so far this is the only one. It's just of a type I've seen frequently elsewhere.]

"As a non-academic cis white male of 54 who knows he's benefitted from this subconscious categorical thinking but who - I SWEAR - has always been a skinny long-haired "weirdo" not accepted by authority figures and who has followed closely the work and books by Boroditsky, Lakoff, and Feldman, I read this and sigh: what can I possibly say, except I AM A FUCKING ASSHOLE whose made everyone's live worse by being who I look like?

Nice work."


To which I replied:
White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is 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. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This paper explicates the dynamics of White Fragility. - Robin DiAngelo

I did not bother noting on the comment that this sort of defensive response is a form of oppressive behavior - an attempt to silence the speaker of unpalatable things. But I will note it here, as a thing not to do.

I won't be unfiltering any other such comments; this one can stand in as a token for the lot. If I get too many for my spoon level, I'll just close comments. But I would prefer not to be silenced - and to have worthwhile conversations in comments silenced - by oppressive behaviors.
 
 
 
shweta_narayanshweta_narayan on February 14th, 2015 07:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's only the one new jerk so far (there were a few in initial comments), I just figured it follows a pattern I've seen often enough that it should be addressed.