* This is an article I wrote for a project in college. The class was Race and Ethnicity in Classical Antiquity.
I hate to break it to you white people, but your whiteness is extremely fragile. And not in a good way. Now hold on a second, because I can hear your defensive scoffs and see you protectively folding your arms in front of you. Give me a minute to explain.
By now, we all know how harmful whiteness is. Though race is a social construct, and no race is inherently better than another, whiteness has historically been construed as the superior race, though this was based on zero scientific evidence and is rooted solely in racist beliefs and stereotypes. Nevertheless, a truly disturbing group of white people, the alt-right, attempt to carry on this falsity that is white supremacy. White supremacists might be the most overt and obvious example of white fragility, especially when they carry around signs saying “You will not replace us,” despite white men in America being the most over represented group in most management, leadership, and political positions. But this white fragility is found in many more seemingly innocuous places.
The term “white fragility” was coined by Robin DiAngelo in her essay titled “White Fragility.” DiAngleo describes white fragility as a “state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable”. White fragility can result in anger, fear, guilt, argumentativeness, silence, and denial. White fragility is particularly dangerous because, according to DiAngelo, it perpetuates white superiority and white normality.
There isn’t a white person alive who is completely free of white fragility. Even white people who consider themselves the farthest thing from racist, or who consider themselves socially aware, likely prescribe to some fragile white mannerisms, whether they know it or not. It’s important for white people to educate themselves on their white fragility, because talking about race is important. By ignoring racial inequalities, we are just perpetuating racism and letting it go unchecked. If white people cannot acknowledge their own white privilege and systemic white power, then we cannot even acknowledge that this is a real problem.
Why are all white people fragile? It’s because we live in a world where white is “normal.” White people are not confronted daily with any racial stress or any negative consequences because of their race. White people like to ignore their race. So when white people are confronted with the knowledge that their whiteness is oppressive and their whiteness gives them privilege that advantages them, they grow uncomfortable. As long as white people are allowed to remain comfortable and hide behind their white fragility, whiteness will always be the norm.
Take the quiz below if you are a white person who suffers from white fragility! (Hint: if you are white, you do.)
|Do you become insecure when you’re the only white person in the room?|
|Does seeing a person of color in a position of power make you uncomfortable?|
|Do you try to distance yourself from the title “white person”?|
|Do you not see color?|
|Do you grow deeply offended when someone tells you you did something racist?|
|Do you think we are living in a post racial era?|
|Are you hurt when you are told your achievements are not entirely based on merit, but also from your white privilege?|
|Have you ever said, “I’m not racist, but…”?|
|Have you never done anything racist?|
|Does the fact you have a black friend make you not racist?|
|Were you hesitant to take this quiz?|
|Are you feeling attacked after taking this quiz?|