• sarah07003

White Fragility



I found myself quite disturbed emotionally on account of the riots this past weekend all across our nation. I could feel it in my abdomen and solar plexis--that churning and unease that I associate with anxiety. I had trouble releasing it. So I just had to be with it.

Just being with it forced me to examine all the thoughts I had associated with the circumstances going on around me.

At the level of fact, there was violence and looting less than 4 blocks from my house. I watched videos on Facebook of property destruction. Many businesses in this area were broken into and contents destroyed or removed.

The anxiety I felt was fueled primarily by fearful thoughts of what might happen next and confusion about the causes and potential remedies of what was happening now. But the fear was at many levels:

· I feared for my personal safety. This violence came very close, and it did not escape my thinking that it could come to my very block. I wondered if there were any way to protect myself, my home, my family. I could not come up with options that I thought would work in light of what I saw in the videos.

· I feared for the loss of my way of life. I admit that I have a comfortable way of life. And it occurred to me that it was in jeopardy. I could not even walk my dog safely Saturday night. And if my home were destroyed, even if I were not hurt, It would be a mess to clean up and rebuild (if I could even afford to do so). So I feared a future loss. (I did not yet understand that part of this was fear of my loss of privilege as a white woman.)

· I feared for what was happening in our society. I cannot imagine or begin to understand the level of fear and frustration that people of color, especially black men, feel on a daily basis. The “system” is clearly not working for a large proportion of our population giving rise to more fear and frustration and anger.

But I—I, who preaches empowerment--felt powerless to do anything about it.

And then, I did the wrong thing. I called an African-American friend and confessed I was having trouble processing all that was happening. I shared with her some of my fears and confusion. (I am grateful that she was willing to take the time to steer me in the right direction to process what was going on. But I also know that I should have reached out to a white woman instead.)

My friend suggested to me that I was experiencing “White Fragility,” a set of unconscious beliefs and ways of thinking that is designed to protect my place of privilege as a white person in this world. She then directed me to a talk “Dr. Robin DiAngelo discusses ‘White Fragility.’” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ey4jgoxeU

I highly recommend it, but, if you are white, you will likely feel uncomfortable.

I asked my friend what I, as a white woman, can do to make the world a better place when it comes to racism. She suggested that I buy the book and discuss it with all my white women friends.

But here is what I also know. No good and sustainable solution is going to arise from fearful and angry energy. And no good and sustainable solution can leave any portion of the population out. We are going to have to find a way to develop a new collective consciousness and awareness to enable us to all work together.

Einstein once said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.” So what is the answer to creating a new shared consciousness that could lead to lasting and just solutions?

I think we have to get very clear about where we are and our individual role in creating the current state of affairs. I am willing to do my own inner work on this subject. I am willing to examine my role in the current “system.”

And then I think we need to come together throwing all our preconceived notions of right and wrong out the window.

I am willing to look at what my current level of consciousness is on the subject. And I am willing to join with others to access a different level.

I bought the book White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo on Audible. I will be listening to the whole thing as I walk my dog, which I believe I can do now in relative safety. If you want to join me in discussing it, reach out to sarah@bookofyou.com.

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Sarah E. Brown 2019