Skip Navigation

PRE-CONFERENCE INSTITUTE SESSION 1112

Session Title

1112: White fragility

Session Times

Tuesday, May 28: 9:00-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-5:30 p.m.

Abstract

White people in the U.S. live in a racially insular social environment. This insulation builds our expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering our stamina for enduring racial stress. A term for this lack of racial stamina is white fragility. White fragility is a state in which even a minimal challenge to the white position becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves including: argumentation, invalidation, silence, withdrawal, and claims of being attacked and misunderstood. These moves function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and maintain white control. Those who see themselves as "the choir" can be particularly challenging, for we tend to focus on "evidence of our advancement" rather than reach for humility and continually grapple with how to engage in intentional action. This session will provide an overview of the socialization that inculcates white fragility and provide the perspectives and skills needed for white people to build their racial stamina and develop more equitable and just racial norms and practices. This session should particularly benefit any white person who positions themselves as "already getting it," those whose main question is "how do I talk to other white people about racism," those who want to know "what to do" about racism, and people of color who wonder how white people manage to not know and why we are so difficult to talk to about racism.

Presenter

Robin DiAngelo, PhD, Affiliate Associate Professor, Education University of Washington