Showing posts with label White Fragility. Show all posts
Showing posts with label White Fragility. Show all posts

Thursday, January 10, 2019

White Fragility - Pre-contemplation: the first stage of change

"In the early days of my work as what was termed a diversity trainer, I was taken aback by how angry and defensive so many white people became a the suggestion that they were connected to racism in any way. The very idea that they would be required to attend a workshop on racism outraged them."
P.2 White Fragility by Robin Diangelo

This behavior is symptomatic of what Prochaska, Norcross, and DiClemente call the  "pre-contemplative stage" of their model of change. This pre-contemplation stage is characterized by denial and resistance. The person denies that there is a problem even when there is evidence to the contrary and often becomes defensive with a "the heck with you" attitude. The person has never "contemplated" before that there might be a problem. Thus they are in the "pre-contemplation" stage.

The symptoms of denial, ignorance, and resistance, especially when accompanied by defensiveness and attack, are part of the syndrome which Robin Diangelo has named "White Fragility."

Once an assessment of where the person, or people, are in the stages of change model is made, this assessment is informative of the kind of change efforts that can be helpful.

The main change efforts for people in the pre-contemplation stage are "consciousness raising" in which manifestations of the problem and consequences of the problem are described and brought to the the person (group's) attention. 

This consciousness raising involves  at least four steps: describing the dysfunctional practices, describing the negative consequences of these practices, asking participants in these practices, whether knowing or unknowing, to take responsibility for participating in these practices, and offering hope of improvement in diminishing or eliminating the dysfunctional practices and their negative consequences to improve more optimal functioning.

The results hoped for in working with people at the pre-contemplation stage is that they will move to "contemplation" which is a willingness to learn more, reflect, and consider. People in the contemplation, when asked if there is a problem, will say instead of "the heck with you", "maybe there is a problem and maybe there isn't, but I'm open to learning more."

As this point, further trainings can be voluntarily provided instead of mandated.

To be continued

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Helpers - Dr. Anne Hallward

Psychiatrist Dr. Anne Hallward is interviewed in the January, 2019 issue of The Sun magazine. She is one of the helpers.

Dr. Hallward mentions Robin Diangelo's book White Fragility in answer to one of the questions she is asked about cultural bias.

Amoroso: Do you feel ashamed of your own cultural bias?
Hallward: Sometimes, yes. You know the truism: we always teach what we most need to learn. I’m ignorant in so many ways. I have blind spots shaped by racism, classism, elitism, straight privilege, and so on. But I trust myself to see my bias when it’s pointed out to me, to acknowledge it, to learn what I need to learn, and to undo it where I can. Punishing myself does not help. White people’s fear of being seen as bad — what Robin DiAngelo calls “white fragility” — fosters avoidance of the topic and therefore contributes to racism.
",,,avoidance of the topic ...contributes to racism."
Unitarian Univeralists covenant together to affirm and promote the free and responsible search for truth and meaning. When white UUs apply this principle to the topic of racism they are less fragile than they might have been. Learning about the beliefs, values, and practices of white fragility helps sanctify the world and help people become holy.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Are border walls and White Fragility connected?

Robin Diangelo writes in her book White Fragility, "Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority that we either are unaware of of can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We consider a challenge to our racial world views as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people. Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as an unsettling and moral offense." p2

The very defensiveness that some people engage in is a symptom of racism. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" is a famous line from Shakespeare's play, Hamlet.

There is no better example of this racial defensiveness that the metaphor of a border wall which has brought Donald J. Trump to power. The wall has no practical benefit for a humane and functional immigration policy, but it does have huge appeal to the racism of Donald Trump's supporters.

The problem for Americans and people around the world is not Donald Trump's overt manipulation of racism to get elected with his famous tag line, "Make America Great Again" which is a dog whistle to return to the days of Jim Crow, but the problem is all the Americans who consciously or unconsciously support this racist form of leadership in our country.

Unitarian Univeralists have covenanted together to affirm and promote the dignity of every person and justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. White Fragility is the social manifestation of institutional, systemic racism which needs to be recognized, acknowledged, and eliminated if we are to sanctify the world and help people become holy.

To be continued

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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