4Cs – Feb. White Fragility

Wednesday, February 20, time TBD

Rob Snikkar:

What does White Fragility have to do with our discussions of the 4C’s?
It might be clear that systemic racism (and its ugly brother patriarchy/misogyny) is directly involved in our systems of capitalism and colonialism.  It may be less clear that inherent racist beliefs and privilege influence our approach to climate change and system change but I believe that they are interrelated/intersectional.
When we examine our global approach to extraction economies, ownership of land & resources, industrialized agriculture, developing countries and their economies, international banking and finance – such as the IMF and World Bank, indigenous and human rights suppressions, the global arms trade and the rise and propping up of despotic leaders…I think we see many examples of privileged thinking.  But what makes it difficult to see the effects of systemic racist views and practices is their unconscious and implicit action upon our psyche and out inability to perceive these qualities within ourselves.
For these reasons I find it important to reflect upon and self-examine my own racism and the racism of my privileged white brothers and sisters that has been bred into us inherently through the system that we live in and benefit by.
Resources – here are two essential readings for the discussion
A brief but spectacular look at whiteness – 1 Page  – compiled by my friend in Toronto, Jamil Kalim
Longer and slightly academic but written accessibly by Dr. Robin DiAngelo – “White Fragility” an essay
In particular, page 4 – Triggers, lists concisely many reactions and behaviours that are familiar to most of us.
If you don’t have much time read this page!
Supplemental resources- longer but easy to listen to and very informative


Dr. Robin DiAngelo video – speaking in Seattle for the launch of her book “White Fragility – Why Its So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism” 1 hour 23 minutes

She is a clear and direct speaker – well worth watching.

Finally some thought-provoking quotes to get your juices flowing.

“What white people have to do is try to find out in their hearts why it was necessary for them to have a nigger in the first place. Because I am not a nigger. I’m a man…. If I’m not the nigger here, and if you invented him, you the white people invented him, then you have to find out why. And the future of the country depends on that.”  James Baldwin, In the documentary I Am Not Your Negro (2016)

 “Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege, we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.” bell hooks 

“…The white audience does not seek out black public intellectuals to challenge their worldview; instead they are meant to serve as tour guides through a foreign experience that the white audience wishes to keep at a comfortable distance. White people desire a representative of the community who can provide them with a crash course. ….” Mychal Denzel Smith, The Gatekeepers – On the burden of the black public intellectual.  From the December 2018 issue of Harper’s magazine

 “…It has always bothered me that the very idea of paying attention to or knowing Indian history is tinged with the soft compassion of the do-gooder, as a kind of public service, like volunteering at an after-school program. If we treat Indian stories this way, we do more than relegate Indians themselves to history…you need to look at Indian history and at the Indian present…” David Treuer, Essay – 2020 VISION, In Harper’s magazine Jan. 2019 (from The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee, published this month by Riverhead Books. )