Wednesday, October 23, 2019

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo - To be a real American you have to be white

Chapter three
To be a real American you have to be white.



DiAngelo bravely challenges the collapse of whiteness into national identity. No less an authority than BeyoncĂ© Knowles recently remarked, “It’s been said that racism is so American that when we protest racism, some assume we’re protesting America.” DiAngelo proves that BeyoncĂ© is right, that the flow of white identity into American identity—of racist beliefs into national beliefs—must be met head-on with a full-throated insistence that what it means to be American is not what it means to be white, at least not exclusively, or even primarily. This nation is far more complicated in its collective self-understanding.

DiAngelo, Robin J.. White Fragility (p. xi). Beacon Press. p.xi

Is being white being American? From our founding this has been the belief. Native Americans and African Americans were excluded from the first centuries of America's existence and still continue to be.

We have seen the rise of White Nationalism with the election of Donald Trump and his veiled election slogan, "Make America Great Again," MAGA, which his supported take to be code for make America white again. Of course with the demographic tide of increasing numbers of "people of color" it is predicted that whites will be in the minority in the United States by 2040 as they already are in many American cities and in some American counties.

America is becoming like South Africa where even if the census demonstrates whites in the minority, they still want their privileges and to maintain them they must maintain their power. To maintain their power they must continue their racist policies and practices.

While racist policies and practices are still powerful in the United States, whites deny them and claim they are oblivious to the advantages which these racist policies and practices provide. As Stokely Carmichael pointed out in the 60s during the days of "Black Power," whites will never give up their advantages and privileges willingly. People of color will have to take them on their own terms, and whites have to learn to be respectful and just.

Mutual respect and justice is the best social arrangement for all parties but this kind of social development seems to happen only with struggle as the "haves" surrender to the fairness and dignity of the "have nots."

Action steps:


  1. Name three ways that people believe that to be American is to be white.
  2. Trace three examples of how white Europeans colonized and oppressed non whites as then engaged in their "manifest destiny" to occupy and thrive on the North American continent.

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