Last week, Women for Biden held an online training session with Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility. It was a powerful call to action for white people to recognize and respond to the existence of systemic racism in our world and in ourselves.
DiAngelo’s argument is that all white people act in racist ways. Racism isn’t just ugly actions by overtly racist people.
White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress. … White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.
Every white person has a lot of work to do to recognize, confront and take concrete steps to counteract systemic racism. “I always told myself I can’t be racist,” she told us. “I’m a vegetarian.” She suggested some ways we can increase our awareness and expand our ability to be anti-racist:
Challenges include reading, listening, and watching articles, books, shows, podcasts and more. Watching and noticing how race plays a part in your life and your community. Widening your circle. Connecting with social justice and anti-racist groups in the community. Taking action to support anti-racism.
Start with the website. There’s a second 21-day challenge focused on protest and rebellion. You can download a chart to track your progress and record your reflections. Like and follow the Facebook page for new suggestions.
This is a workbook for a 28-day challenge to combat racism, change the world, and become a good ancestor. It started with an Instagram challenge in 2018 in which thousands have participated. Buy the book and/or explore the website for seminars, podcasts, blog posts and more.
- Williamsburg Action. Private Facebook group.
- The Village: The initiative for equity in education. Website/Facebook page.
- All Together Williamsburg. Website/Facebook page.
- WUU Social Justice. Private Facebook group/Williamsburg Unitarian Universalists web page.
- Coming to the Table. Website/Facebook page.
- York-James City-Williamsburg NAACP. Website/Facebook page.
- The Lemon Project at William & Mary. Website.
- Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. Website.
- Black Lives Matter 757. Facebook page.
Whether we can join the nightly marches or not, we all need to take concrete, permanent actions every day to become more self-aware and summon the courage to counteract the systemic racism pervading every part of our lives. DiAngelo gives good advice: “You’ll make mistakes. You’ll say the wrong thing. But you will learn.”