Civil Rights

White Fragility

“White fragility” refers to a concept introduced by Robin DiAngelo, a sociologist and author. It refers to the defensive reactions or resistance displayed by some White individuals when confronted with discussions or challenges related to race and racism. DiAngelo argues that this defensiveness is rooted in a socialization process that has shielded White people from recognizing and addressing their own racial biases and privileges.

According to DiAngelo, when White individuals are confronted with issues of race, they may become defensive, feel uncomfortable, or deny their own racial biases. This defensiveness can manifest as emotional reactions, such as anger, guilt, or withdrawal from the conversation. White fragility often stems from a fear of being seen as racist or a threat to one’s self-identity and can hinder productive dialogue and progress in addressing systemic racism.

Author and scholar Robin DiAngelo, Ph.D., examined the unconscious and unintentional forms of racism at UMKC Diversity and Inclusion’s 13th annual Social Justice Book Lecture.

The concept of white fragility is part of a broader discussion on whiteness, privilege, and racism, aiming to promote understanding, self-reflection, and active engagement in combating racism. It encourages White individuals to examine their own biases, recognizes the systemic nature of racism, and develop the capacity to engage in meaningful conversations about race and work toward racial equity and justice.

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