Sunday, January 6, 2019

White Fragility

The Faith In Action Council at our church has chosen the topic "racism" as its primary focus for 2019.

Today, in an hour long discussion before our worship service , about 15 people gathered to discuss the book, White Fragility, by Robin Diangelo.

Ms. Diangelo is a white diversity trainer who has provided consulting and workshops on diversity for over 20 years. Over this time she made a number of observations which has led to her writing this book.

Diangelo writes "While implicit bias is always at play because all humans have bias, inequity can occur simply through homogeneity; if I am not aware of the barriers you face, then I won't see them, much less be motivated to remove them. Nor will I be motivated to remove the barriers if they provide an advantage to which I feel entitled." p. xiii

Diangelo seems to be making two points: bias is unconscious, at least until it becomes conscious, and that people may benefit from their unconsciousness. Ignorance can be bliss.

Diangelo writes," I am writing mainly for a white audience..."p. xiv She further makes the point that racial identity is assigned to people by the dominant society. This idea is clearer when we consider people who are multi-racial, and people in the minority who can pass as a member of the dominant racial group.

Along with the assignment of racial identity comes certain stigma and penalties for the minority as well as benefits and entitlements for the majority. Because of the moral guilt about domination, and subjugation, those in the majority who benefit from racial identity assignment often deny responsibility for what roles society has cast them in and the dynamics and practices they get caught up in and enable often unconsciously.

Consciousness contributes to a sense of responsibility for the inequities and dysfunction that societal norms, attitudes, and practices create and maintain.

Diangelo points out throughout the book, that unconsciousness, ignorance allows racism to not only survive, but thrive.

White people find their power and their dominance slipping away and their desire to "make America great again" has lead to the manifestation of racism in our National and State leadership. The Rachel Maddow Show clip from 01/04/19 below gives a good example of former Maine Governor Paul LaPage racism. He lost his bid for re-election his past fall, 2018, for another term as Maine's Governor.

To be continued

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