few weeks ago I wrote an article about racism and white fragility.
I covered some issues I had with my family and how it's so difficult to have conversations about racism that don't end in an argument.
If you haven't read it yet, go back and do that now, the next part may not make sense if you don't.
The response I received was huge. Friends reached out on Instagram, I received emails and it was even picked up by another publication. Not every response was positive, however. Some doors have closed that likely won’t ever open again.
This was to be expected, it's not an easy thing to read and confronts some deep problems.
Despite this, I'm extremely proud of the conversations the article has sparked and I'm happy to take the criticism to stand up for what's right. I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.
In the spirit of transparency and keeping the conversation going, I wanted to share three responses I received from people that really hit at the heart of what I was trying to communicate. I've removed their names in the interest of privacy but their words are their own. Enjoy and try and read them with an open mind.
"It is, of course, offensive to whites when people of color call out their racism. It is even MORE offensive when white people call it out to other whites. You are considered traitors to the tribe, not to be trusted, presumed that your "sympathies" are suspect, and shunned and despised, 'buked and scorned. Few people, of any ethnicity, can take the punishment of exclusion from others who are like them, so they go along and get along. It's hard being brave, but we're called upon to be if we want a better world and want to be true to ourselves. Do we really want to let other peoples' hate define our happiness?"
"This is the first time that I’ve read one of your articles, and I enjoyed it. I consider this article a “fun” one because it gives me hope that white people could change if they wanted to. I no longer speak to my family for the same reasons as you. Only difference is that I am Black, and more than 90% of my family is white and actively racist; there aren’t any passive racists. Racist thinking and beliefs never go away, but if one does the work, one is less likely to act on them. On a different note, white people are not “fragile.” Whites, actually, believe that they are powerful. What you classify as fragility is actually a demonstration of power."
"I liked your post. As a black person, it's nice to hear from whites who can learn. I don't mean that to be offensive - I'm sorry if it sounds that way, but it statnds. I've been in your situatuion as the wife of the white man who couldn't face being cut from his family. I divorced him and as he still lrefuses to learn, our kids keep their distance from him. He fails to understand his racism and that from his white family. It caused me to have a mental breakdown and he still fails to understand the loss of his wife and kids is on him. You're ahead of the curve. And going in the right direction. Being anti-racist will be hard, harder than anything you've ever done."
A couple of themes stood out to me within these responses.
The first is the idea that white fragility is actually a demonstration of power. I had never thought about it like that before. It’s an act of power to be able to push back when someone calls you out on somthing.
The second is the sense of surprise at the idea that white people can change and think about this stuff. This makes me both happy and sad. We need to do better.
I would love to hear what you think. Please send me a message and let me know!
Thanks for reading.
Cya in the next one. X
If you haven't read Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, the book that inspired my original article, please do! Pick it up HERE