Rebekah Schulz-Jackson writing on “the true antidote to White supremacy”

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently — When you start down the road of anti-racist, anti-white-supremacist work as a white person, you think (or at least I did) that it’s about learning the correct lingo (political correctness) or making more black and brown friends (tokenism) or voting for a certain party (liberalism/Democratism). BUT the more I walk this road, the more I learn that the main work of dismantling white supremacy in my life lies in recognizing the ways that I bring whiteness with me, even when I’m trying to be aware or “woke”.

It’s not enough to say or do the “right things” if I say and do them in a way that reinforces white supremacy. It’s not enough to share all the ways I’ve “leveled up” as an activist or ally — and in fact, that’s really not even helpful to bring up at all. It’s definitely not enough (and definitely not helpful) to point my fingers at other folks and say, “But at least I didn’t say THAT.”

What fighting white supremacy is really about is being wrong. Often. Sometimes when I most think I’m right. And fighting the impulse in my heart that says when I’m wrong that I’m bad, or that I’ll never get it “right”, or that now my relationships are over because I messed them up by saying the wrong thing.

The true antidote to white supremacy in my life is white humility and white vulnerability — the humility and vulnerability to trust that my friends and elders of color aren’t lying to me when they tell me that the systems of our country hurt them, and sometimes I hurt them, but that they love me anyway, and that they want me with them as we fight this fight and walk this walk of life together.

–Rebekah Schulz-Jackson (facebook post from 11/25/17)

Mark Van Steenwyk writing on “white fragility”

When you’re feeling defensive, it is pretty common to adamantly declare “I’m not being defensive.” Which is why so many folks don’t believe white fragility is a┬áreal thing.

I get it. When someone challenges your views by suggesting that your wrong perspective is tied up in you being white, it seems ridiculous. I mean, if you concede to that, then pretty much any person of color is automatically right and you’re automatically wrong.

But that isn’t how it works. Nobody is saying you can’t have an opinion or that you’re always wrong simply because you’re white. But if you get agitated anytime someone suggests that your being wrong about something is tied up in your white bias, then you are demonstrating white fragility…a deeply emotional response to the faintest possibility that you are tied up in some sort of racist framework.

Do you honestly expect that centuries of race-based oppression has been, for the most part, cleared up in the 50 years since MLK was assassinated? I mean, we’re still stuck in Plato’s ideas that the immaterial is truer than the material and that dude has been dead for 2400 years. We think it only takes 50 years for the attitudes, beliefs, and structures of white supremacy to become undone?

Isn’t it even worth considering that if you grew up white in this society that you might lack the perspective to understand just how racist our system is? Isn’t it worth considering that this racist system has left its impression on you?

This isn’t about fault or blame. It is about understanding our world and recognizing the responsibility we all have to push back oppression, particularly when it rests within the nooks and crannies of our own minds.

White fragility is the inability to consider this real possibility as one reacts with anger or condescension or anxiety or disgust.

Once we accept that things in our society can influence us more than we know, we have taken our first step to liberation.

–Mark Van Steenwyk (facebook post from 12/10/16)