Racial tension has not completely disappeared from our society, inspiring collegiate educators to increase “white awareness” by instilling collegiate course-work, and hosting “white fragility” lectures. Is this attempt to move society forward helping the issue or fanning the flame?
Dr. Robin DiAngel, a retired professor and part-time lecturer at the University of Washington, defines the term she coined “white fragility” as ““a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves” in which white people become “irrational.” Her book on this topic, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard To Talk To White People About Racism,” is set to release this summer.
She recently hosted a lecture at the University of Texas, calling attention to the dangers of “white privilege.” “Because this “white defensiveness” supposedly prevents whites from seeing their own racism clearly,” DiAngelo said, “People of color understand what it means to be white more than I ever will.”
The University of Texas now offers a course on “Whiteness.” Will calling so much attention to skin color, regarding which, help move us to a more just society? Dr. DeAngel opened her lecture by stating: “I want to start off my drawing your attention to the fact that I’m white,” she said. “By the fact that I am white, I was raised not to understand what that meant, and it’s not a benign or innocent lack of understanding. It is a willful refusal to know or to understand.”
This is not the first or only suggested call for whites to be educated on what it means to be, well …white. The University of Wisconsin- Madison came under fire for a course called “The Problem of Whiteness,” in 2016. In reference to a NYC college offering the same type of format in a course setting back in June of 2017, Arizona State Rep. Bob Thorpe said ”These courses really pound a wedge between people based on race.” Ohio State University also added a course that “teaches students how to detect micro aggressions and white privilege.”
Time will tell whether the trend to educate white people about what makes them white will move society towards a more tolerant state regarding racial tension.
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Publication date: November 17, 2017