As most of my readers know, I live in Omaha NE. There are 11 school districts in the Omaha metro area, and one of them, Millard Public Schools, the third-largest school district in Nebraska, has decided to require all 70 administrative personnel to read the book White Fragility by Ms. Robin Diangelo.
In view of the current national climate of widespread racial protests, let’s take a look at what Diangelo is saying in her book. The description below is mostly verbatim quotes (largely from Chapter 2):
- Racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society.
- Racial disparity between whites and people of color continues to exist in every institution across society.
- White privilege is the system of social advantages taken for granted by whites and that cannot be similarly enjoyed by people of color.
- White fragility is the discomfort and anxiety exhibited by white people when challenged about their presumed superiority and entitlement.
- White supremacy is the all-encompassing centrality and assumed superiority of people defined and perceived as white, and the practices based on this assumption.
- The United States is a global power and the ideology of white supremacy is circulated globally, promoting the idea of whiteness as the ideal for humanity well beyond the West. White supremacy has shaped Western political thought for hundreds of years.
- Naming white supremacy changes the conversation in two key ways: it makes the system visible and shifts the locus of change onto white people, where it belongs.
My summary of the book: White people benefit from a culture that perceives whiteness as the ideal. Whites are defensive about discussing their racism (i.e. their overwhelming cultural advantages). This system can only change if and when white people admit their responsibility and take the lead in dismantling our racist culture.
My response: I agree that there is latent racism remaining in the U.S. But the Diangelo description of our society is fundamentally misguided and damaging to all minorities, and especially to blacks, because it treats them as victims and implies that they are not responsible for their own behavior and status in life.
My solution to racism: coming next week. Stay tuned!