“Whites, it must frankly be said, are not putting in a similar mass effort to reeducate themselves out of their racial ignorance. It is an aspect of their sense of superiority that the white people of America believe they have so little to learn.”
– Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
I love that this quote calls out our laziness when it comes to truly learning about the oppression of racism – this is simply yet another sign of our white privilege.
(Also, I didn’t know this quote before I read what Andre Henry recently wrote about his lent challenge for white people and it’s so good – I’m so glad he shared it.)
Anti racism for Lent. #18.
Last year, I almost went to a class called White Fragility, it was hosted by a church, which made it that much more appealing to me. See, I’ve spent a lot of time in churches and church sponsored environments throughout my life, and while I have heard the word justice used a lot, I’ve rarely seen it enacted, lived out, or truly, practically preached about. So I was shocked, and so excited to go possibly see the church having conversations I’d never seen them have before.
The class actually ended up changing names before the event. It was something much less ‘offensive,’ after the name change. I had already planned to go, and hoped the content would remain the same despite the name change. I am glad I went… I heard lots of things, some of which I had never heard before, particularly about racial reconciliation. I sat in a room full of people who were clearly eager to learn and grow. I took a lot of notes. I asked questions after, and wrote a list of recommended books, podcasts, and movies, and I got to work, slowly but surely, opening my mind and letting my paradigm shift.
I have to say that white fragility seems to the hardest topic to actually, practically talk about. Especially when I know that I’m primarily writing to a white audience, as a white person. I am sure I don’t even fully see my own white privilege (“white undeserved advantages.”) It has been an interesting process (to say the least) for me to identify my own unconscious bias, and to take a hard look at my own fragility.
I think that the suggestions of the last 17 days have really given each of you about a zillion starting points to choose from, and that’s good, because I’ve only got two for this one.
Read this post – “The Sugar-coated Language of White Fragility.”
I try to check myself in my daily life – here’s my metric:
If I find myself getting defensive, mentally, verbally, or even with my body language… Or if I find that I’m really quick to respond with some ready made answer defending my position about something (even only within my own mind) I do an immediate reevaluation…. here is a small sampling of questions I ask myself:
Why am I responding this way? Do I feel threatened?
What about me is being called into question? Is there a real threat?
What truth am I possibly missing?
Am I really listening to the other person/perspective?
Or am I focused on protecting my own beliefs regardless of what might be true?