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white fragility

Dictionary result for white fragility

discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice.

Word reaches me that the neo fascist rabble who organised a ‘rally’ in Bangor last saturday that absolutely nobody went to are upset because we ran a story that absolutely nobody went to a ‘rally’ in Bangor last saturday organised by neo fascist rabble the so called ‘North Wales Yellow Vests’ spokesperson, the stockport born Caernarfon based Benjamin Jackson, is also peeved because we’ve pointed out the far right affiliations of their activists – like Benjamin Jackson himself pictured centre under a Union Jack at a far right rally. Or Rhodri Jones pictured here giving a nazi salute and who thinks it’s okay to have a picture of a Golliwog on his facebook profile. Or Manchester based Ashlea Robyn, previously banned from facebook for racist abuse and pictured here at an EDL anti immigrant rally. Or the three English Defence League stormtroopers parachuted into Newport from London 4 weeks ago to support Tommy Robinson groupie Vincent Cawthron.Or Carey Roberts the blaenau ffestiniog based holocaust denying neo nazi

We can also reveal that exchanges between some of these far right activists on whatsapp and which have been seen by us indicate they are discussing how they can respond to the wave of anti racist protests which have sprung up against them whenever they’ve tried to stage public events in Wales – given british fascists penchant for thuggery we think we can guess what ‘respond’ might be code for .

We have seen trhis approach from the Democratic Football Lads Alliance in Swansea. They love to talk about paying a visit. We all know that these neo Nazi techniques reveal the true bature of these patriots . We all know the approach of the street gang now taken into UKip and its ally Tommy Robinson. We all know rthe shards of Krystallnacht

2019  perhaps more than any other year in recent history, has seen an uptick of accusations of oversensitivity from across the political spectrum. Famous men accused (and sometimes convicted) of sexual harassment complain that women are being ‘too sensitive’. Conservative activists accuse college students of being ‘special snowflakes’ who can’t tolerate opposing views. On the left, anti-racist activists accuse white folks of wallowing in ‘white fragility’. But is calling someone out on white fragility from the left the same as calling them a snowflake from the right?
In this blog post, I argue that the term speaks to much more than arguments about appropriate levels of cultural sensitivity, especially in this current socio-political moment. Indeed, the concept of white fragility is useful for understanding the enduring legacy of racism and how it still affects our everyday lives.

An illustrative example of ‘white fragility’

Last week presented us with an illustrative example of white fragility, and its consequences in practice. Plainfield, Indiana police Captain Carri Weber was briefly suspended (though later reinstated), when another officer, Captain Scott Arndt, claimed that she ‘racistly and sexistly slurred’ him. The offense? Weber, who is a white, female officer was conducting a diversity training, and Arndt, a white, male officer disagreed with statistics about the likelihood of transgender people (of color) experiencing police violence. Weber responded ‘cause [of] your white, male privilege, you wouldn’t know’. Arndt later filed a complaint with the department against Weber, claiming that he was the victim of racism and sexism.
Returning to DiAngelo’s discussion of white fragility, Arndt’s behavior in this case is a fairly textbook example of actions taken by folks who are experiencing white fragility. Let’s examine the incident one step at a time.
According to the scholarly data that Weber used in her presentation, transgender people of color are 2.46 times more likely to experience police violence than their white non-transgender counterparts. Arndt’s incredulity about this data in a diversity training setting shows his discomfort with being told about the structural advantages that both men and white folks are more likely to have. After Weber points this out to him, Arndt chooses to leave the stress-inducing situation. After the training, Ardnt proceeds to file a complaint about how he is a victim of discrimination, because Weber pointed out that his experience was likely different than the folks in the data set because of his race and gender.
Approximately 77% of police officers in the US are white, and 88% are male, according to 2015 statistics from the Bureau of Justice. Honestly, it’s pretty bold to claim that you’re the victim of discrimination when over three-quarters of the people who hold your job look like you. Despite being firmly in the demographic majority of police officers with respect to both his race and gender, Ardnt’s actions showed that he was completely unwilling to consider his positionality with respect to the information being presented to him. The diversity training and Weber’s candid response to Arndt’s incredulity about the data were simply too stress-inducing for him to cope with as a white man.
Arndt’s framing of the incident, in which he is the victim, is an example par excellence of white fragility. Instead of meaningfully engaging with the issues around gender and racial differences in citizens’ experiences with law enforcement, Arndt created a dynamic in which he – and indeed white males in general – are the ‘real victims’. And Ardnt’s case is not unique.
White fragility is what allows white Americans, for example, who represent 76% of the country’s millionaires, 84% of its professors, and 96% of Fortune 500 CEOs, to react defensively whenever they are presented with this information, and so to believe that they are systematically victimized because of their racial identity. White fragility is dangerous precisely because it allows individuals with more power to reframe discussions about justice in a way that will only reinforce the power that they already have.

The Plainfield police department is now known across the country for a situation in which one white, male officer felt victimized, instead of for their work trying to address structural inequalities in policing. And that’s what white fragility does: it takes the story away from the victims of discrimination and gives it back to the perpetrators, who then use it as a weapon to defend the unjust status quo.