Jun 1, 2020

Uninformed and Ignorant

The tag line of this blog is "cards and talk." Today is talk.

It's hard to say anything meaningful about the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota from the living room of my almost entirely white neighborhood. The protests and riots in Dallas are a safe 5 miles from our house. I have little at risk, except perhaps my heart and soul.

I never really thought seriously about the phrase "white privilege." I think of myself as a caring, kind person (don't we all?), so I flew right past that one. But, after the murder of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, at the recommendation of a friend, I began to read White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. DiAngelo is white and she's addressed her book to white people.  I can't comment on the book yet because I'm still reading, but here's a quote from the beginning of the book that I've been thinking about a lot this weekend.

I am a white American raised in the United States. I have a white frame of reference and a white worldview, and I move through the world with a white experience. My experience is not a universal human experience. It is a particularly white experience in a society in which race matters profoundly; a society that is deeply separate and unequal by race. However, like most white people raised in the US, I was not taught to see myself in racial terms and certainly not to draw attention to my race or to behave as if it mattered in any way. Of course, I was made aware that somebody’s race mattered, and if race was discussed, it would be theirs, not mine. Yet a critical component of cross-racial skill building is the ability to sit with the discomfort of being seen racially, of having to proceed as if our race matters (which it does). Being seen racially is a common trigger of white fragility, and thus, to build our stamina, white people must face the first challenge: naming our race. OUR OPINIONS ARE UNINFORMED I have never met a white person without an opinion on racism. It’s not really possible to grow up in the United States or spend any significant time here—or any other culture with a history of Western colonization—without developing opinions on racism. And white people’s opinions on racism tend to be strong. Yet race relations are profoundly complex. We must be willing to consider that unless we have devoted intentional and ongoing study, our opinions are necessarily uninformed, even ignorant. 
DiAngelo, Robin J.. White Fragility (pp. 7-8). Beacon Press. Kindle Edition.

I'm not sure what I will think about the rest of this book, but this passage resonates.

My dear friend Susan Raihala linked this article on white privilege on her blog. It's also an excellent opportunity to listen and learn and become informed.


Janet said...

I am so grateful to both you and Susan for blogging pointedly about what is happening. Yes, I come for the stamping, but now I should say I flee for the stamping because the fear and terror and heartbreak are overwhelming. I truly believe we will only come out of this if we talk about it all, not to try to change others minds but so we can try to understand them and they can try to understand us. Divide and conquer is winning every day unless we are open to facing what is right in front of us. So I hope you will keep both talking and stamping.

Leslie Miller said...

I read the article. I've thought about all these things and the one thing I know is that I'll never understand what is wrong with people. I shouldn't get started on this. I feel like humans have made a mess of everything from society to planet. Laws can change, but I don't know about bigots and racists. I just want to cry... and I'm white. Try to imagine how people of color feel. You really can't.

Ginger said...

Thank you for your post and reference to Susan Raihala's blog. Please keep card making and commenting. I put White Fragility on my reading list. Currently, there is a 6 month wait list.

Andrew and Bertha Pilgrim said...

Thanks for the link to the article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson. I think many women may relate to some of the situations as they may have had similar experiences because they were women. I found the comment earlier saying that "we will come out of this if we talk about it all, not to try to change others minds.." very intriguing. It seems to me, from the protests, that Black Americans are tired of talking, tired of trying to quietly fit in and take emotional, verbal and physical abuse. The combination of covid-19 health & unemployment disparities and the rising influence of social media has led to these special set of circumstances. We should not avert our eyes and ears any longer. I hope the book is helpful to you.