White Fragility is the Beginning

I want to elevate a really good thread by Dr. Chanequa on Twitter today. You will want to click through and read it all. It’s good.

I have seen a lot of pushback against White Fragility on Twitter quite a bit recently. I read the book some time back and found it helpful. At the same time, I could understand the criticism of elevating a White woman’s voice over those of BIPOC on the topic of racism. So I decided to sit the argument out and just listen. What I appreciated about Dr. Chanequa’s thread is that she understands there is nuance. The book is helpful, but no one should think they can read only one book and understand racism. It’s important for us to read different books. It’s a problem if we stop with Robin DiAngelo or Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. To do so means we adopt one or two people as official spokespeople. Dr. Chanequa says it better:

Jennifer Binis put it like this:

I loved Jennifer’s analogy of reading White Fragility as reaching level 2 on the rubric—and no one should be shooting for level 2.

Honestly? If you are starting to engage in the work of unlearning racism and becoming anti-racist, just understand it’s life’s work. If you are starting to feel like you’ve arrived, it’s probably a good time to do some reflection. I like to use the asymptote analogy for a lot of things I teach. I think working toward becoming anti-racist might be a bit like an asymptote.

Here’s an example for you visual learners (from the Math Blog).

You can see how the curved line gets closer and closer to the asymptote, but it doesn’t ever cross it. It doesn’t ever reach it.

I think asymptotes are a great metaphor for learning in general. There is always more to learn on a given subject. However, I think it’s particularly true of cultural competency of all kinds, including learning about racism.

Don’t be discouraged, however. It’s important work, and I firmly believe one of the reasons we are here in this life is to keep learning.

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