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White Fragility* Self-Test
Ask yourself the following:
1. Do I feel defensive when a person of color says “white people?”
2. Do I feel angry when people tell me that I benefit from white privilege?
3. When a person of color talks about race, do I feel defensive because they’re describing things that I do or think as racist?
4. Do I feel angry or annoyed by the above questions?
5. Do I have a history of embracing or growing up in racism that I feel ashamed of and so I need to show people that I’m not racist anymore?
6. Does saying “Not all white people” or similar phrases make me feel better when someone calls white people out for something?
7. Do I expect an apology when I feel like I’ve been unfairly accused of racism?
8. Do I feel better when I say, hear, or read, “It’s okay to be white?”
9. Do I try to convince people of color that they’re wrong about racism by pointing out people from their racial group who agree with me?
10. Do I feel the need to talk about how hard my ancestors had it when they immigrated, or explain my own hardships when a person of color talks about being oppressed?
11. Do I think that racism would go away if people stopped talking about it?
12. Does being told that something I say, think, do, or otherwise value is racist make me want to shut down, leave, or express my discomfort/displeasure in some way?
13. Do I feel the need to state that I have friends/family who are people of color when someone accuses me of racism?
14. Do I feel the need to prove that I’m not racist?
15. Do I feel that my opinions and perspectives about race should be given equal weight to that of a person of color, that I have something unique and important to contribute to the race conversation, and/or that it is unfair to be told to listen more than I speak?
16. Do I feel the need to defend myself on any of the above points in the comment section?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are dealing with white fragility. Take time to reflect on why you feel the way that you do. Take time to listen to different perspectives.
White fragility is a hindrance to racial healing because it prevents people of color from being able to engage white people in honest conversation without also having to bear the burden of catering to white people’s emotional comfort.
At its worst, white fragility can cause an emotionally unhealthy situation for people of color because of racial power dynamics and the weight of being responsible for white folks’ feelings while not having space to express our own. There is also the weight that comes with people that you care about lashing out at and abusing you (verbally, emotionally, and/or digitally).
If we cannot talk honestly about the issues, then we cannot make progress.
*White Fragility, as defined by DiAngelo, is the result of white racial socialization. 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, guilt, and behaviors such and as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial comfort and status quo.