ISN is following up the commitment to anti-racism with a seven-session immersion into “White Fragility”, the New York Times best seller by Robin Diangelo. A quote from the book that resonates with many readers is, “White people raised in Western society are conditioned into a white supremacist worldview because it is the bedrock of our society and institutions…the messages circulate 24/7 and have little to do with intentions, awareness, or agreement. Entering the conversation with this understanding is freeing because it allows us to focus on how – rather than if – our racism is manifest.”
ISN board member Stan Smith attended the moderated Zoom book study and posted his thoughts on it.
Thoughts on White Fragility
By Stan Smith
Growing up Jewish I encounted prejudice on several occasions because of my religious upbringing and beliefs. As a result, I judge each person I meet as an individual, not taking into consideration their race, ethnicity or religion. Because of this I did not consider myself a racist – until recently. I joined the Zoom book club sponsored by St. Athanasius Episcopal Church and Interfaith Solidarity Network. We were to have seven meetings to discuss the book White Fragility Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo.
My first reaction to the book was “This is not me she’s talking about”. But the more I read, the more I realized that many of the things I said and did were very racist. I believed my words and actions to be neutral, not harmful. I resisted the notion that they were racist and I became very defensive. Further reading taught me that perhaps I was not a redneck racist, more a liberal thinking racist . . . but still a racist. I learned that it was not enough to say I was not a racist, but I had to learn how to become an anti-racist through positive actions.
During the Book Club discussions I learned I was not alone. The other participants (of many religions and ethnicities) were caught in the same trap. Through our discussions we learned our words and actions were the words and actions of our parents and their peers. Even though we did not always follow their examples we were still carrying some of that baggage.
I am seeing that we all are in the process of learning we have to make a concerted effort to change our thought patterns and actions. We can become anti-racist and work to eliminate the institutionalized racism that exists in this country.
I strongly recommend that everyone read this book. It is not an easy read, and you may not agree with everything that is written, but it is an eye opening adventure that teaches us how we can eliminate racism in this country, and hopefully have greater peace in all our lives.