going back to africa

Reunifying African diaspora across the Americas with each other, their pride, history, culture, true homes & identity…

Archive for the tag “white fragility”

Delusions of Grandeur

Beyoncé’s Formation has triggered a tsunami of white tears. There has been an influx of white rage over the perceived messages that were presented in the artwork. I have seen a great deal of commentary & criticism making a few of the same baseless claims: Beyoncé is racist, divisive, anti-police, supports hate groups & that the Super Bowl was not the time or place to push her political agenda.

Clearly, through the eyes of many white people, any mention of the disproportionate police brutality against ‘minorities’, is to insult their service or to spew hate towards all police, not just the bad ones. That any mention of systematic racism & it’s lingering effects is, within itself, an act of racism. By this special kind of logic, to mention the poor outcome of any action, is to perpetuate that action yourself. Many are also claiming that to associate with the Black Panther Party, is to condone or support every single facet of it.

Obviously, too many of these people are unaware of the concept of constructive criticism. They seem to not understand that it’s possible to appreciate & respect something or someone, yet still not let the good they do give them a pass on the wrong they do. If you care about something or someone, don’t you want them to be the best they can be? The police have always had corruption & violence issues since its inception, so for these things to be eliminated, or reduced as much as possible, isn’t it necessary to address them? The first step to solving a problem, is to acknowledge that there is one, is it not?

Foolishly, many people are claiming that the Black Panther Party, at its creation, was an organization based in hate whose main objective was calling for senseless violent acts against white people based solely on their race. Despite the fact that the BPP virtually never engaged in any such activity & that most of any violence they promoted or acted out was strictly as a means of self-defense, white people still feel the need to bring it up as if it’s relevant & even go so far as to compare the group to the KKK, who actually did act out the hate & violence that they preached. They also conveniently never seem to be aware that the BPP did many great things for their communities that were struggling as a direct result of systematic racism, which was implemented by whites. White people are mad about the existence of the BPP & any support for or praise of the group, but consistently fail to mention that it only exists because of the actions of white people. They never want to acknowledge the fact that had America always treated all their citizens as if their lives mattered, the BPP, BET, Affirmative Action, Black Lives Matter, minority scholarship programs & every other government program or racially exclusive organization tailored specifically for PoC (people of color), exists because of white supremacy/privilege. Too often do white people whine about the symptoms of systematic racism, but don’t want to address the disease itself.

Arrogantly, perhaps due to centuries of policing black people & structuring their acceptable amounts & types of blackness, far too many white people continue to feel they have a right to tell black people when, where, how & which parts of the black experience they are allowed to discuss, celebrate or portray. They also too often believe that they somehow obtained the credentials to determine how long it should take black people to “get over” 500 years of living within a racist society. Too many believe that it’s their place to tell others what they should or should not care about. They are too often more concerned about getting black people to stop mentioning systematic racism (because it makes them feel bad [white tears] even though they can’t experience it) than they are about finding ways that they themselves can help end it.

Historically, whites have always glorified their terroris- excuse me, heroes – who in most instances, were violent criminals whose rise to fame & power involved the murder, robbery & exploitation of PoC. I live in the South & there are statues, monuments & streets all over the place named after Confederate soldiers & generals who participated in wars that fought, in part, to maintain their right to keep blacks enslaved. There are housing developments named after plantations. Many white people take pride in these killers & are thankful for the carnage they left behind, as it gave way to the white privilege they all benefit from today. Even those who came later, like the mob & folks like Bonnie & Clyde are hyped. Ted Bundy, Charles Manson & several other serial killers are found to be fascinating, their evil often attributed to mental illness or poor upbringing, but will attribute evils committed by ‘minorities’ to their nature. Many whites will look at a photo of a white person holding a gun & an American or Confederate flag (same difference) & will deem them a patriot, yet will see a photo of a black person holding a gun, waving an RBG flag & will deem them a thug. These are the same type of people crying ‘double-standard’ when it comes to Bey & her dancers wearing BPP garb.

Dear White People: It is not your place to tell any groups of people that have been oppressed & marginalized by your race, what ways are acceptable to celebrate their heritage & racial pride. Blacks do not need your approval for which parts of our history & current circumstances we choose to discuss. We are exposed to your racist history every single day, every time we see an American flag or dollar bills, but you want to cry about a couple of minutes of seeing a few black people dressed up like a group that practiced resilience against a system designed for them to fail? GET OVER YOURSELVES. You don’t get to tell us how to heal & grow from the effects of systematic racism. You have no right to tell us when or where it’s ok to express ourselves. You also don’t get to set the time frame for how long that will take, especially being that systematic racism doesn’t only exist in the past, it still remains today. When you bring up black-on-black crime, the broken black family unit, subpar education, ghettos, etc – don’t forget to mention how an overwhelming majority of those problems came about: systematic racism that was created & implemented by white people. Just because you didn’t have a hand in it doesn’t mean you do not have any responsibility to help clean up the messes & right the wrongs of those before you, because you still reap the benefits from the evils they carried out, while PoC are still trying to heal the wounds. It’s not Beyoncé, those who are singing her praises for her latest work, or the BPP you should be so deeply disgusted by, it should be the series of unfortunate events that led up to these things coming into fruition.

Screenshot_2016-02-07-23-12-41-1.png

 

Advertisements

White History Month

Every year without fail, during Black History Month, black people catch flack for celebrating, accused of racism for focusing only on black history and accomplishments. Often it’s asked, “Why don’t we have a White History Month?” Well, I thought I’d share something I saw on Facebook, a list of things that should be highlighted during that month, if ever created:
1 Cherokee Trail of Tears
2 Japanese-American internment
3 Philippine-American War
4 Jim Crow
5 The genocide of Native Americans
6 Transatlantic slave trade
7 The Middle Passage
8 The history of White American racism
9 Black Codes
10 Slave patrols
11 Ku Klux Klan
12 The War on Drugs
13 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
14 How white racism grew out of slavery and genocide
15 How whites still benefit from slavery and genocide
16 White anti-racism
17 The Southern strategy
18 The rape of enslaved women
19 Madison Grant
20 The Indian Wars
21 Human zoos
22 How the Jews became white
23 White flight
24 Redlining/Gentrification
25 Proposition 14
26 Homestead Act
27 Tulsa Riots/Black Wall Street
28 Rosewood massacre
29 Tuskegee Experiment
30 Lynching
31 Hollywood stereotypes
32 Indian Appropriations Acts
33 Immigration Act of 1924
34 Sundown towns
35 Chinese Exclusion Act
36 Emmett Till
37 Vincent Chin
38 Islamophobia
39 Indian boarding schools
40 King Philip’s War
41 Bacon’s Rebellion
42 American slavery compared to Arab, Roman and Latin American slavery
43 History of the gun
44 History of the police
45 History of prisons
46 History of white suburbia
47 Lincoln’s racism and anti-racism
48 George Wallace Governor of Alabama
49 Cointelpro
50 Dotbusters
51 School tracking
52 Mass incarceration of black men
53 Boston school busing riots
54. Man made Ebola and A.I.D.S.
55  Church Bombings and fires in deep south to Blacks
56. Church Shootings
57. How the Irish and Italians became white
58. The Perpetuation of the idea of the “model minority
59. Housing discrimination
60. Systematic placement of highways and building projects to create ghettos
61. Medical experimentation on poor PoC (people of color) especially Blacks (including surgical and gynecological experimentation)
62. History of Planned Parenthood
63. Forced Sterilization
64. Cutting children out of pregnant Black mothers as part of lynchings
65. Eurocentric beauty standard falsification
66. Erasure and eradication of all achievements of Ancient Africa and Kemet
67. White-washing of history and cultural practices of PoC
68. Media manipulation and bias
69. Perpetuation of the myth of reverse racism
70. The history of white cannibalism
71. White Fragility
72. Indian Removal Act
73. Red Summer of 1919
74. Compromise of 1877
75. The Assassination of Dr King

whm

And a perspective about Black History Month from Zipporah LeGarde:

Black History Month, as well as other history months based on racial history, aren’t racist. BHM is no more racist than Breast Cancer Awareness month is discriminatory against other types of cancer. Racism is defined as privilege plus power, and something that uses racial lines to instill a hierarchy in society, usually with white on the top. So, from a sociological standpoint, only Euro-Americans can exercise racism, but racial minorities can only be prejudiced.

That being said, the purpose of these months is to highlight the contributions racial minorities have made to the fabric of America. Some of you believe we don’t “need” these months, bringing up what Morgan Freeman said (regardless of the fact most black and other minority intellectuals have written countless articles rebuffing his point of view. Sorry y’all, Freeman is an actor, not a race scholar, and doesn’t speak for the entire black race – we are not monolithic in our blackness). But you’re not looking at the larger picture. Tell me when, in school, you learned about a minority in history that wasn’t Harriet Tubman, MLK, George W. Carver, *maybe* Malcolm X, you see the point? And you *probably* learned about them during BMH.

Black History IS American History, and if our educational system made more of an effort to incorporate minorities (including women) into the story of how America came to be, it would then be unnecessary. But to say it’s racist not only is a gross misunderstanding of what racism actually is, but totally ignores the fact our educational system is highly Euro-centric. When you’re a racial, gender, or a member of other minority group, it means a lot to have positive models from your camp, to let you know you can achieve what they did, that you can be as successful.

White Fragility

by

Robin DiAngelo [a white woman]

(with minor editing by me)

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects & 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 & guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence & leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This document explicates the dynamics of White Fragility.

I am a white woman. I am standing beside a black woman. We are facing a group of white people who are seated in front of us. We are in their workplace, and have been hired by their employer to lead them in a dialogue about race. The room is filled with tension and charged with hostility. I have just presented a definition of racism that includes the acknowledgment that whites hold social & institutional power over people of color [PoC]. A white man is pounding his fist on the table. His face is red and he is furious. As he pounds he yells, “White people have been discriminated against for 25 years! A white person can’t get a job anymore!” I look around the room & see 40 employed people, all white. There are no PoC in this workplace. Something is happening here, and it isn’t based in the racial reality of the workplace. I am feeling unnerved by this man’s disconnection with that reality & his lack of sensitivity to the impact this is having on my co-facilitator, the only person of color in the room. Why is this white man so angry? Why is he being so careless about the impact of his anger? Why are all the other white people either sitting in silent agreement with him or tuning out? We have, after all, only articulated a definition of racism.

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects & insulates them from race-based stress. Fine identifies this insulation when she observes “… how Whiteness accrues privilege & status; gets itself surrounded by protective pillows of resources and/or benefits of the doubt; how Whiteness repels gossip & voyeurism and instead demands dignity…” [Although white racial insulation is somewhat mediated by social class (with poor & working class urban whites being generally less racially insulated than suburban or rural whites), the larger social environment insulates & protects whites as a group through institutions, cultural representations, media, school textbooks, movies, advertising, dominant discourses, etc] Whites are rarely without these “protective pillows,” and when they are, it is usually temporary & by choice. This insulated environment of racial privilege builds white expectations for racial comfort, while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress.

For many white people, a single required multicultural education course taken in college, or required “cultural competency training” in their workplace, is the only time they may encounter a direct & sustained challenge to their racial understandings. But even in this arena, not all multicultural courses or training programs talk directly about racism, much less address white privilege. It is far more the norm for these courses & programs to use racially coded language such as “urban,” “inner city,” & “disadvantaged” but to rarely use “white” or “over-advantaged” or “privileged.” This racially coded language reproduces racist images & perspectives while it simultaneously reproduces the comfortable illusion that race & its problems are what “they” have, not us.

Reasons why the facilitators of these courses & trainings may not directly name the dynamics & beneficiaries of racism range from the lack of a valid analysis of racism by white facilitators, personal & economic survival strategies for facilitators of color, and the overall pressure from management to keep the content comfortable & palatable for whites. However, if & when an educational program does directly address racism & the privileging of whites, common white responses include anger, withdrawal, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation & cognitive dissonance (all of which reinforce the pressure on facilitators to avoid directly addressing racism).

So-called progressive whites may not respond with anger, but may still insulate themselves via claims that they are beyond the need for engaging with the content because they “already had a class on this” or “already know this.” These reactions are often seen in anti-racist education endeavors as forms of resistance to the challenge of internalized dominance. These reactions do indeed function as resistance, but it may be useful to also conceptualize them as the result of the reduced psychosocial stamina that racial insulation inculcates. I call this lack of racial stamina White Fragility.

Although mainstream definitions of racism are typically some variation of individual “race prejudice”, which anyone of any race can have, Whiteness scholars define racism as encompassing economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that systematize and perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources and power between white people and PoC. This unequal distribution benefits whites and disadvantages PoC overall and as a group. Racism is not fluid in the U.S.; it does not flow back & forth, one day benefiting whites & another day (or even era) benefiting PoC. The direction of power between whites & PoC is historic, traditional, normalized & deeply embedded in the fabric of U.S. society.

Whiteness itself refers to the specific dimensions of racism that serve to elevate white people over PoC. This definition counters the dominant representation of racism in mainstream education as isolated in discrete behaviors that some individuals may or may not demonstrate & goes beyond naming specific privileges. Whites are theorized as actively shaped, affected, defined & elevated through their racialization & the individual & collective consciousness’ formed within it. Recognizing that the terms I am using are not “theory-neutral ‘descriptors’” but theory-laden constructs inseparable from systems of injustice”, I use the terms white & Whiteness to describe a social process. Frankenberg defines Whiteness as multi-dimensional:

Whiteness is a location of structural advantage, of race privilege. Second, it is a ‘standpoint,’ a place from which White people look at ourselves, at others, and at society. Third, ‘Whiteness’ refers to a set of cultural practices that are usually unmarked and unnamed.

Frankenberg & other theorists use Whiteness to signify a set of locations that are historically, socially, politically & culturally produced, and which are intrinsically linked to dynamic relations of domination. Whiteness is thus conceptualized as a constellation of processes & practices rather than as a discrete entity (i.e. skin color alone). Whiteness is dynamic, relational, and operating at all times & on myriad levels. These processes & practices include basic rights, values, beliefs, perspectives & experiences purported to be commonly shared by all, but which are actually only consistently afforded to white people. Whiteness Studies begin with the premise that racism & white privilege exist in both traditional & modern forms, and rather than work to prove its existence, work to reveal it. This document explores the dynamics of one aspect of Whiteness & its effects, White Fragility.

Triggers

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, & guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence & leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. Racial stress results from an interruption to what is racially familiar. These interruptions can take a variety of forms and come from a range of sources, including:

• Suggesting that a white person’s viewpoint comes from a racialized frame of reference (challenge to objectivity)
• PoC talking directly about their racial perspectives (challenge to white racial codes)
• PoC choosing not to protect the racial feelings of white people in regards to race (challenge to white racial expectations and need/entitlement to racial comfort)
• PoC not being willing to tell their stories or answer questions about their racial experiences (challenge to colonialist relations)
• A fellow white not providing agreement with one’s interpretations (challenge to white solidarity)
• Receiving feedback that one’s behavior had a racist impact (challenge to white liberalism)
• Suggesting that group membership is significant (challenge to individualism)
• An acknowledgment that access is unequal between racial groups (challenge to meritocracy)
• Being presented with a person of color in a position of leadership (challenge to white authority);
• Being presented with information about other racial groups through, for example, movies in which PoC drive the action but are not in stereotypical roles, or multicultural education (challenge to white centrality).

In a white dominant environment, each of these challenges becomes exceptional. In turn, whites are often at a loss for how to respond in constructive ways. Whites have not had to build the cognitive or affective skills, or develop the stamina that would allow for constructive engagement across racial divides. Bourdieu’s concept of habitus may be useful here. According to Bourdieu, habitus is a socialized subjectivity; a set of dispositions which generate practices & perceptions. As such, habitus only exists in, through, and because of the practices of agents & their interaction with each other & with the rest of their environment. Based on the previous conditions & experiences that produce it, habitus produces & reproduces thoughts, perceptions, expressions & actions. Strategies of response to “disequilibrium” in the habitus are not based on conscious intentionality, but rather result from unconscious dispositions towards practice, and depend on the power position the agent occupies in the social structure.

White Fragility may be conceptualized as a product of the habitus, a response or “condition” produced & reproduced by the continual social & material advantages of the white structural position. Omi & Winant posit the U.S. racial order as an “unstable equilibrium,” kept equilibrated by the State, but still unstable due to continual conflicts of interests & challenges to the racial order. Using Omi & Winant’s concept of unstable racial equilibrium, white privilege can be thought of as unstable racial equilibrium at the level of habitus. When any of the above triggers (challenges in the habitus) occur, the resulting disequilibrium becomes intolerable. Because White Fragility finds its support in & is a function of white privilege, fragility & privilege result in responses that function to restore equilibrium & return the resources “lost” via the challenge – resistance towards the trigger, shutting down and/or tuning out, indulgence in emotional incapacitation such as guilt or “hurt feelings”, exiting, or a combination of these responses.

whiteContinued below: See White Fragility 2

Post Navigation