I found Robin D’Angelo’s article on the subject of White Fragility to be both fascinating and enlightening. As I read the piece, I began to understand more and more of my behaviors and implicit biases as a White, Heterosexual, Cis-Male. Other than my faith (Judaism), all other demographic characteristics of mine are normative. Not even hyperbolically speaking, I never have to think about my own racial identity in comparison to another, more powerful and prominent, racial group. I also never have to think about my own sexuality and gender identity in the context of another, as my sexuality and gender identity are clearly shown throughout our society. I have the privilege of seeing those who look like me and who have similar backgrounds as myself. Before high school, when I really became conscious of race, as I was lucky to attend a school whose demography is fairly representative of American society at-large.
Until high school, I always assumed that all opportunities afforded to me were given on the basis of merit. With both of my parents being first-generation college graduates, I was led to believe that in the United States of America, if one was to work hard enough, anything would be possible. I believed that. I really did. It was not until I understood that my parents, by virtue of their skin color, were not subject to implicit biases implying a linkage between their skin color and intelligence/aptitude. It was a combination of “luck” and “hard work.” With that narrative, I completely understand D’Angelo’s list of “triggers” of White Fragility (D’Angelo, 57). I know that some feel that the acknowledgement of a racially-based advantage is seemingly invalidating to one that has “defied the odds.” This is not to say that Whites who were able to take advantages based upon their race did not work hard, but rather, people of color (POC) that were not afforded similar opportunities to my parents were not as “lucky.” Whites, generally speaking, are more than content living in a society in which they are seen as the basis of normativity. The ascension of POC, whether it be in film, the news media, the corporate world, and the political sphere is frightening to the Whites who will cease to have a disproportionate amount of leverage in our inherently racist society (D’Angelo, 57). Clearly, this makes Whites uncomfortable; but that being said, it is necessary to be uncomfortable to have such discussions.
DiAngelo, Robin. “White Fragility.”