Author Topic: White Fragility  (Read 15838 times)

Michael Slusser

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5336
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #105 on: July 16, 2020, 10:08:15 PM »
A useful thought experiment, IMO, is to test one's reactions to "systemic sexism." Is there a male bias built into our society, or not? I have had the sexism of my behavior or language (or of my "mansplaining") pointed out often enough so that I just try to learn from the occasion. I never (well, almost never) get defensive and try to talk my way out of it or bull my way through. I've had more than sixty years of correction starting with my big sister, and I'm not so fragile any more, and probably don't act out male bias as much as I did. Many men I know, including married men, have experienced a similar course of study, and yet we are told and can see for ourselves that a bias in favor of men over women is still endemic in our society in many ways, earning power being only one of them.

That is what DiAngelo would have us do with racism (though the sexism comparison isn't from her): get beyond taking the accusation of racism as a personal affront that would make me a bad person doing wicked acts and learn from the occasion how the bias in favor of whiteness in our society hurts people of color, sometimes in very concrete ways as well as in emotional challenges. Whites need to be tougher and more humble and recognize that this painful dynamic is built in to our society. White people need to practice to absorb more of the pain ourselves and push less of it off on to those who are hurt by it.

I do think those are laudable goals and in keeping with the Christian understanding of humility.  However, what do we do with the fact that racism is most often (from my perspective as a white, Christian, conservative man at least) used as a bludgeon not by black people harmed by my racist actions, but by other white people who wish for me to adopt their policy stances and political preferences?  In order to understand why white people tend to be defensive about racism, you have to be willing to understand how the weaponization of the word "racist" has been used against us.  Not defensively by black people who are harmed by our actions, deeds, words.  But by other white people who want to big boy us into thinking, acting, doing and voting as they wish, not as we wish.  After all, it wasn't President Obama who said Mitt Romney wanted to put black people back in chains.  And certainly not Clarence Thomas, or JC Watt, or any other number of black conservatives.  No, it was Joe Biden that said that.  They don't get much whiter than Joe Biden.

Of course, he also said President Obama was the first black candidate for president who was bright and clean and articulate -- a storybook, I think he said? -- anyway, I think you can see the double standard here.  I'm quite certain Jesse Jackson and Alan Keyes can, but that's probably because I recognize that they are also clean, bright and articulate.

The point is, Joe Biden never has to answer for his racism.  You know why?  Nobody ever really calls him out on it.  At least not in the cancel culture, he's an evil bad person who should be shunned way they do, ironically, someone like Mitt Romney (not to mention the president).  And to the point, I'd wager Robin DiAngelo hasn't either.  So the whole "let's not be defensive" coming from people who never have to defend themselves because they're on the right side of the political aisle, and especially coming from those hurling the bombs to begin with, leaves me a bit cold.  It reminds me of the time Chelsea Clinton spoke out passionately against the evils of our materialistic culture.  Trying to pay the bills and keep my family fed while someone who has never wanted for any material thing rails against my iPad is a bit too much to take, honestly.  This is of a piece.
I won't get into party politics with you, as long as we are talking about White Fragility at least. As I said earlier, I don't believe that Robin DiAngelo mentions either Republicans or Democrats, much less more incendiary partisan terms. Others on this Forum may feel like taking you up in that area--at least, so as I've noticed.

The problem is a real one and likely to occupy us for several years. I think DiAngelo has made a positive contribution to showing what the social dynamics are. That may help in some small way. I at least have found her analysis illuminating, even if (or perhaps because) it isn't a partisan screed.

Peace,
Michael

I’m sorry there isn’t a better way to point out the weaponization of false claims of racism by liberal whites without discussing partisanship. I’m sorrier you dismiss that valid discussion as a “screed.”

Have a nice day Father.
What discussion did I dismiss as a screed? I said DiAngelo's book is not a screed, but I don't recall applying that word to any other writing.  ???  And I was discussing her book, not the "weaponization of false claims of racism made by liberal whites," which you apparently think should have been the focus of her book. One can't demand that authors write the book one wishes they would. There may be other books out there that match your desires. I'm stuck discussing this book.

Peace,
Michael
« Last Edit: July 16, 2020, 10:16:08 PM by Michael Slusser »
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

jebutler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1743
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #106 on: July 17, 2020, 05:06:23 PM »
A review of White Fragility by a black professor at Columbia

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/07/dehumanizing-condescension-white-fragility/614146/

BTW, how can anyone take seriously a book that says, “Imagine if instead the story, went something like this: ‘Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball’”?

That has to be one of the stupidest things I've ever read. She obviously doesn't know baseball.
The truth we preach is not an abstract thing. The truth is a Person. The goodness we preach is not an ideal quality. The goodness is Someone who is good. The love we preach is God himself in Christ. --H. Grady Davis

Weedon

  • Guest
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #107 on: July 18, 2020, 08:41:31 AM »
Insightful review, Jim. Thanks for the link. I’ve loved McWhorter since I listened to his fascinating lectures on the history of language.

jebutler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1743
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #108 on: July 18, 2020, 11:52:50 AM »
The truth we preach is not an abstract thing. The truth is a Person. The goodness we preach is not an ideal quality. The goodness is Someone who is good. The love we preach is God himself in Christ. --H. Grady Davis

Michael Slusser

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5336
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #109 on: July 18, 2020, 12:41:58 PM »
Since the paragraph about Jackie Robinson is the most frequently referred to in these last two linked articles and other interventions, it may be useful to quote it in full from White Fragility, p. 26:
Quote
    "The story of Jackie Robinson is a classic example of how whiteness obscures racism by rendering whites, white privilege, and racist institutions invisible. Robinson is often celebrated as the first African American to break the color line and play in major-league baseball. While Robinson was certainly an amazing baseball player, this story line depicts him as racially special, a black man who broke the color line himself. The subtext is that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level. Imagine if instead, the story went something like this: 'Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.' This version makes a critical distinction because no matter how fantastic a player Robinson was, he simply could not play in the major leagues is whites--who controlled the institution--did not allow it. Were he to walk onto the field before being granted permission by white owners and policy makers, the police would have removed him."
     Nowadays most whites who care about baseball realize that what happened with Robinson (and in the AL with Larry Doby) was controlled by the white executives who finally and gradually lowered the barrier to black players that had been raised with Jim Crow in the late 1800s. We are already "woke" to that, and our reaction may be "Doh!" The example doesn't much help to show how "the reality of ongoing institutional white control" has been obscured by the way we tell his story.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12583
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #110 on: July 18, 2020, 12:57:26 PM »
I am not a baseball expert, but from all that I have heard and read, the story of Jackie Robinson is more nuanced that Diangelo gives him or anyone else involved credits. I doubt that many who are actually knowledgeable about baseball hold the theory that Robinson was the first Black to play baseball well enough to play on the white major leagues. There were other Black professional baseball players at that time and earlier that were as good or ever better than Robinson. Leroy "Satchel" Paige comes to mind. It was a combination of factors that made Robinson the first, not the least of which was Robinson's skill and determination, being at the right place and at the right time and at the right position in his career, and his courage and willingness to work through the guff he received. It was a credit to Robinson that he was able to pioneer and help bring about that change.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Terry W Culler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 2227
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #111 on: July 18, 2020, 01:25:50 PM »
I am not a baseball expert, but from all that I have heard and read, the story of Jackie Robinson is more nuanced that Diangelo gives him or anyone else involved credits. I doubt that many who are actually knowledgeable about baseball hold the theory that Robinson was the first Black to play baseball well enough to play on the white major leagues. There were other Black professional baseball players at that time and earlier that were as good or ever better than Robinson. Leroy "Satchel" Paige comes to mind. It was a combination of factors that made Robinson the first, not the least of which was Robinson's skill and determination, being at the right place and at the right time and at the right position in his career, and his courage and willingness to work through the guff he received. It was a credit to Robinson that he was able to pioneer and help bring about that change.


There was also a time when blacks did play pro ball with whites.  I've read, but am not sure, that it ended in the early 1900's when Cap Anson, one of the greatest players of his era and manager of the Chicago Whitestockings, refused to allow his team to play against any team with black players.  While all of that may not be correct, it is correct to say that both blacks and whites played in the "majors; early on. 
Goodnewsforabadworld.wordpress.com

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 12448
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #112 on: July 18, 2020, 01:39:25 PM »
I am not a baseball expert, but from all that I have heard and read, the story of Jackie Robinson is more nuanced that Diangelo gives him or anyone else involved credits. I doubt that many who are actually knowledgeable about baseball hold the theory that Robinson was the first Black to play baseball well enough to play on the white major leagues. There were other Black professional baseball players at that time and earlier that were as good or ever better than Robinson. Leroy "Satchel" Paige comes to mind. It was a combination of factors that made Robinson the first, not the least of which was Robinson's skill and determination, being at the right place and at the right time and at the right position in his career, and his courage and willingness to work through the guff he received. It was a credit to Robinson that he was able to pioneer and help bring about that change.

As a baseball nut, there's a wow factor in one thing you said, Dan.  Because many of the black players were way better than the white players who were in the (all-white except for the occasional Cuban) Major League.   Right at the beginning edge of Queens - "city line" being the invisible line that divides Brooklyn from Queens, notorious for many years because the Brooklyn street signs were black with white lettering while the Queens street signs were white with blue lettering - there was a ball park.  Dexter Park.  And it's where the Bushwicks and other top-shelf amateur teams played.  In the off-season, the "barnstorming" season, the major leaguers would play these teams in exhibition games.  And the Grays and other black teams would play straight up against the white amateur teams or the major league barnstormers.  My old-time members regaled me with stories about a pail of beer for a nickel and actual knotholes in the wall to watch the game, and who were the best players then.  One of my elderly elders played 1B for the Bushwicks.  He was a big fella even in his 70s, and I guess he had some major league power. 

In other words, since baseball was "it" at the time in terms of pro sports, there was a lot of mixing and matching going on.  So Babe Ruth and others appeared at Dexter Park and played against the black players.  Pretty much even-steven.  Outspoken racist players on the white side of the aisle kept Jim Crow alive and well in the big leagues until the breakthroughs of the late 40s. 

Dave Benke

jebutler

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1743
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #113 on: July 18, 2020, 01:49:20 PM »
Since the paragraph about Jackie Robinson is the most frequently referred to in these last two linked articles and other interventions, it may be useful to quote it in full from White Fragility, p. 26:
Quote
    "The story of Jackie Robinson is a classic example of how whiteness obscures racism by rendering whites, white privilege, and racist institutions invisible. Robinson is often celebrated as the first African American to break the color line and play in major-league baseball. While Robinson was certainly an amazing baseball player, this story line depicts him as racially special, a black man who broke the color line himself. The subtext is that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level. Imagine if instead, the story went something like this: 'Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.' This version makes a critical distinction because no matter how fantastic a player Robinson was, he simply could not play in the major leagues is whites--who controlled the institution--did not allow it. Were he to walk onto the field before being granted permission by white owners and policy makers, the police would have removed him."
     Nowadays most whites who care about baseball realize that what happened with Robinson (and in the AL with Larry Doby) was controlled by the white executives who finally and gradually lowered the barrier to black players that had been raised with Jim Crow in the late 1800s. We are already "woke" to that, and our reaction may be "Doh!" The example doesn't much help to show how "the reality of ongoing institutional white control" has been obscured by the way we tell his story.

Peace,
Michael

Except that every line there is filled with stupidity (not a term that I use lightly).

No one who knows anything about baseball--which, apparently, she does not--believes Robinson was "racially special, a black man who broke the color line himself." Nor do they believe "that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level." Many of the players in the Negro Leagues could have played MLB, Satchel Paige among them. But just about any player on the Kansas City Monarchs could have played Major League ball at the time.

The only thing that held them back was, "racism by...whites, white privilege, and racist institutions" which are certainly not invisible in this story. The sheer hatred that Robinson received by white fans is well documented. His grace under pressure, his sheer skill, and the support his received from his teammates--Pee Wee Reese among them--is what finally won the fans over.

Now, she wants us to "imagine" a different story--which is exactly the story that everyone tells. In this story, " no matter how fantastic a player Robinson was, he simply could not play in the major leagues is whites--who controlled the institution--did not allow it. Were he to walk onto the field before being granted permission by white owners and policy makers, the police would have removed him." Well, yes, That's exactly the story. That's the story that every book about Jackie Robinson tells. That's the story I told my kids when I pointed out the retired number 42 in Kaufmann Stadium and Fenway and told my kids that number is retired across MLB. She's the one who is imagining a different story. As far as I can tell, what she writes makes as much sense as someone saying, "Let's imagine a different story about Jesus--one in which he was crucified and raised again in three days."

Sorry, but putting her in context doesn't do her any favors. It just illustrates how little she actually knows about Jackie Robinson.
The truth we preach is not an abstract thing. The truth is a Person. The goodness we preach is not an ideal quality. The goodness is Someone who is good. The love we preach is God himself in Christ. --H. Grady Davis

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43160
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #114 on: July 18, 2020, 02:22:23 PM »
Since the paragraph about Jackie Robinson is the most frequently referred to in these last two linked articles and other interventions, it may be useful to quote it in full from White Fragility, p. 26:
Quote
    "The story of Jackie Robinson is a classic example of how whiteness obscures racism by rendering whites, white privilege, and racist institutions invisible. Robinson is often celebrated as the first African American to break the color line and play in major-league baseball. While Robinson was certainly an amazing baseball player, this story line depicts him as racially special, a black man who broke the color line himself. The subtext is that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level. Imagine if instead, the story went something like this: 'Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.' This version makes a critical distinction because no matter how fantastic a player Robinson was, he simply could not play in the major leagues is whites--who controlled the institution--did not allow it. Were he to walk onto the field before being granted permission by white owners and policy makers, the police would have removed him."
     Nowadays most whites who care about baseball realize that what happened with Robinson (and in the AL with Larry Doby) was controlled by the white executives who finally and gradually lowered the barrier to black players that had been raised with Jim Crow in the late 1800s. We are already "woke" to that, and our reaction may be "Doh!" The example doesn't much help to show how "the reality of ongoing institutional white control" has been obscured by the way we tell his story.

Peace,
Michael

Except that every line there is filled with stupidity (not a term that I use lightly).

No one who knows anything about baseball--which, apparently, she does not--believes Robinson was "racially special, a black man who broke the color line himself." Nor do they believe "that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level." Many of the players in the Negro Leagues could have played MLB, Satchel Paige among them. But just about any player on the Kansas City Monarchs could have played Major League ball at the time.

The only thing that held them back was, "racism by...whites, white privilege, and racist institutions" which are certainly not invisible in this story. The sheer hatred that Robinson received by white fans is well documented. His grace under pressure, his sheer skill, and the support his received from his teammates--Pee Wee Reese among them--is what finally won the fans over.

Now, she wants us to "imagine" a different story--which is exactly the story that everyone tells. In this story, " no matter how fantastic a player Robinson was, he simply could not play in the major leagues is whites--who controlled the institution--did not allow it. Were he to walk onto the field before being granted permission by white owners and policy makers, the police would have removed him." Well, yes, That's exactly the story. That's the story that every book about Jackie Robinson tells. That's the story I told my kids when I pointed out the retired number 42 in Kaufmann Stadium and Fenway and told my kids that number is retired across MLB. She's the one who is imagining a different story. As far as I can tell, what she writes makes as much sense as someone saying, "Let's imagine a different story about Jesus--one in which he was crucified and raised again in three days."

Sorry, but putting her in context doesn't do her any favors. It just illustrates how little she actually knows about Jackie Robinson.


As I read the reports about this here, it strikes me that she takes issue with the language that is often used: "Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier." That makes it sound like he decided to play in the major league with the whites. Thinking people know that's not the real story line, but we continue to use language like that. I believe she is arguing that there is language that better reflects the actual circumstances.


In a similar way, I dislike the language: "Jesus rose from the dead." That makes it sound like Jesus made himself rise. If he were truly dead, he could do nothing for himself. I prefer the passive, "Jesus was raised from the dead." The Father, the Creator, who gave life to dirt, was the power behind raising the corpse of Jesus.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

RevG

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 796
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #115 on: July 18, 2020, 02:40:42 PM »
Since the paragraph about Jackie Robinson is the most frequently referred to in these last two linked articles and other interventions, it may be useful to quote it in full from White Fragility, p. 26:
Quote
    "The story of Jackie Robinson is a classic example of how whiteness obscures racism by rendering whites, white privilege, and racist institutions invisible. Robinson is often celebrated as the first African American to break the color line and play in major-league baseball. While Robinson was certainly an amazing baseball player, this story line depicts him as racially special, a black man who broke the color line himself. The subtext is that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level. Imagine if instead, the story went something like this: 'Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.' This version makes a critical distinction because no matter how fantastic a player Robinson was, he simply could not play in the major leagues is whites--who controlled the institution--did not allow it. Were he to walk onto the field before being granted permission by white owners and policy makers, the police would have removed him."
     Nowadays most whites who care about baseball realize that what happened with Robinson (and in the AL with Larry Doby) was controlled by the white executives who finally and gradually lowered the barrier to black players that had been raised with Jim Crow in the late 1800s. We are already "woke" to that, and our reaction may be "Doh!" The example doesn't much help to show how "the reality of ongoing institutional white control" has been obscured by the way we tell his story.

Peace,
Michael

Father,

I've said as much previously and I'll say it again the book is just bad, and dangerously so.  Her generalization of the term "white supremacy" should be enough to discredit her argument and could be likened to a theology of original sin.  Her methodology is deeply flawed which is why she sees "white fragility" everywhere.  She believes that the defensiveness of the whites she works with is proof of white fragility rather than simple human dynamics that can be explained via biology and human development.  She also claims that white women's tears at racist actions are a result of their white fragility and racist legacy. Again, she believes that racism is worse today than during the Jim Crow era which makes sense if you frame racism in such a generalized and nebulous way as she does. 

Peace,
Scott+

Dave Likeness

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5100
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #116 on: July 18, 2020, 02:44:44 PM »
Branch Rickey was the President & General Manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the mid-1940's.
He was scouting the Negro Leagues for a good ball player.  He would interview them & ask them
if they would fight back against the racial taunts that might come their way in MLB.

He finally decided on Jackie Robinson who had the right temperament and would not fight every
racial slur he heard. Jackie was a good athlete. he was the first guy to letter in 4 sports at UCLA,
namely football, basketball, baseball, and track.  Branch Rickey promised Jackie that he would
eventually put him on the roster of  the Dodgers.  The perseverance and patience of Branch
Rickey is largely responsible for Jackie Robinson breaking the MLB color barrier.

Donald_Kirchner

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 11526
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #117 on: July 18, 2020, 04:54:34 PM »

In a similar way, I dislike the language: "Jesus rose from the dead." That makes it sound like Jesus made himself rise. If he were truly dead, he could do nothing for himself. I prefer the passive, "Jesus was raised from the dead." The Father, the Creator, who gave life to dirt, was the power behind raising the corpse of Jesus.

The ole Stoffregen heresy gratuitously rears its ugly head again.   ::)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2020, 05:04:17 PM by Pr. Don Kirchner »
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it’s not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

RDPreus

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 1187
    • View Profile
    • Christ For Us
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #118 on: July 18, 2020, 05:15:08 PM »

In a similar way, I dislike the language: "Jesus rose from the dead." That makes it sound like Jesus made himself rise. If he were truly dead, he could do nothing for himself. I prefer the passive, "Jesus was raised from the dead." The Father, the Creator, who gave life to dirt, was the power behind raising the corpse of Jesus.


"Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." John 2:19

Brian Stoffregen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 43160
  • ἐγὼ δὲ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἀγαπᾶτε τοὺς ἐχθροὺς ὑμῶν
    • View Profile
Re: White Fragility
« Reply #119 on: July 18, 2020, 07:27:43 PM »
Thread drift.


I started a new discussion on the drift.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]