Robin DiAngelo is an antiracist educator with years of experience. Her book, “White Fragility,” is thought-provoking on many levels but her main thesis is that all white people are racist. That is an explosive statement but throughout her writing, she gives examples of how the white race has maintained a culture of supporting racism as a structure of the social order.
Michael Eric Dyson, who wrote the book’s forward, states that it is a “ vital, necessary, and beautiful book.” DiAngelo not only points out how we, as whites, get things so wrong, but why and what we can do to overcome our fragility.
I highly recommend this New York Times bestseller.
I don’t read a lot of novels, but I am very glad that I did not miss this one. The author, a Harvard graduate, has woven the lives of two disparate families into a web that is forever binding. The story involves teenage love, adult secrets and subtle racism.
This book is utterly engrossing and its story lines are complex leaving one considering important issues of life. I recommend it without hesitation.
“Little Fires Everywhere” has won many awards including the #1 New York Times bestseller. It was made into a Hulu series starting Reese Witherspoon.
It’s no accident that:
We learned about Helen Keller instead of W.E.B. DuBois
We learned about the Watts and L.A. Riots, but not Tulsa or Wilmington.
We learned that George Washington’s dentures were made from wood, rather than the teeth from slaves.
We learned about black ghettos, but not about Black Wall Street.
We learned about the New Deal, but not “red lining.”
We learned about Tommie Smith’s fist in the air at the 1968 Olympics, but not that he was sent home the next day and stripped of his medals.
We learned about “black crime,” but white criminals were never lumped together and discussed in terms of their race.
We learned about “states rights” as the cause of the Civil War, but not that slavery was mentioned 80 times in the articles of secession.
Privilege is having history rewritten so that you don’t have to acknowledge uncomfortable facts.
Racism is perpetuated by people (and systems) who refuse to learn or acknowledge this reality.
You have a choice.
racism | ˈrāˌsizəm | noun prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior: a program to combat racism. • the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races: theories of racism. Source: Webster’s Dictionary.
This is a subject I approach with much trepidation. I fear I will not state my opinions and thoughts clearly. Being misunderstood on such a sensitive topic is a real danger, but I feel this subject is important enough to take that chance. Reader opinions will vary just as our life experiences vary.
I, as a white person, know I have advantages and some I am not really cognizant of most of the time. The dominant race is always assured of unearned assets and privileges even though members may be poor or uneducated as was my early family. This notwithstanding I know I am a recipient of white privilege and I desire to even the playing field when I can. It begins by acknowledging that advantage.
The sender of this Christmas card which I received as a child meant no harm but it clearly demonstrates racial prejudice as does the advertisement from an old catalog of the same era. I am aware each is offensive, but that is why I have included them, to demonstrate that racism is a part of our collective history.
I realize this delicate subject can bring about controversy but that is not my intent. I will talk about my own experiences and evolution and each reader can, and I hope will, examine their own feelings on this delicate, but vital, subject.
I was born into a rural white community. My first memory of encountering a person of color was when I was about 4 or 5 years old. I was with my parents when they stopped at a small store in Harrisonville, KY. I had never been there before and I was shocked to see the dark-skinned proprietor. Mr. Buesey smiled at me and extended his hand offering me a cookie. I did not take it, because I thought surely the black had rubbed off on the cookie. Although I remember nothing else about this experience, to this day I regret my childish reaction knowing I must have hurt this kind man’s feelings.
The next such memory I have must have been at around the same age because I still had a curiosity about the permanence of that black color. I was shopping with my Mother and Aunt in the big town of Frankfort, the capital of KY. When I saw a little black girl about my age I apparently had the courage to attempt to solve my question because I reached out and touched her arm. Again, I know I was rude and regret it. I definitely was not raised in an environment where I came into contact with other than white people on any regular basis.
All this changed when I moved to the small town of Taylorsville. While black children went to a separate school, I did see people of color around town and began to feel more comfortable. I hope I was also more polite. I was in High School before black students were allowed to integrate our “white” schools.
As an adult, I recall the busing era of the seventies when my own children were in school. I remember the demonstrations, the marches and the shouts at buses filled with black children being brought into the suburbs to integrate schools. I am ashamed to say when one of my daughters entering the ninth grade was assigned to an inner city High School we moved to another county. We were a part of white flight even though it was not the integration that concerned me but the fact that my child was being taken into an unknown community many miles from home. Regardless, I was part of the problem, not the solution.
So much has changed in my lifetime and especially in my own mind and heart. I wish my journey had been different. I wish I had been brought up in an integrated community and that it had not been necessary to work to overcome a racial bias I did not even realize I had until later in adulthood.
Our country has a long way to go to overcome racism and even further to achieve racial equality. This is my opinion.
“It’s the people who don’t recognize the racism within themselves that can be the most damaging because they don’t see it.” Sterling K. Brown
Recommended reading about racism in America: the distant past “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriett Beecher Stowe and a contemporary account “White Rage” by Carol Anderson.
In spite of learning so much more about Beauty and the Beast, I still suspect that Beauty and many other females in fairy tales suffer from Stockholm syndrome. I would prefer this story:
A close review of old stories for children, even nursery rhymes, and songs, contain thinly veiled topics that few would find healthy for young children. Some subject matter that comes to mind includes poverty, patriarchy, arranged marriages, cannibalism, incest, and beastiality. (I sure wish I had not used Google to find the correct spelling of that last word!)
The country of origin seems to have little influence on whether the tale is age appropriate. Beauty and the Beast was written in France as we learned in the last post, Aesop’s Fables are from Greece, Hans Christian Andersen was Danish and the Brothers Grimm were German.
Again I am guilty of jumping to conclusions without complete information because when I started reading full versions of many nursery rhymes I found that I was only familiar with part of the story. For instance, I had only heard the first verse of Baa Baa Black Sheep. Did you know that the last verse is about a zebra? There are workable theories that this rhyme is based on slavery or unfair taxing, but we won’t go there today.
Again I had not read or heard all of Little Bow Peep. Did you know that when she found her sheep it “made her heart bleed” because of the loss of their tails? I’m not sure what it is about tails but TheThree Blind Mice had theirs surgically removed by the farmer’s wife!
Poor Humpty Dumpty is mortally crushed in a fall. Everyone knows I suppose that Peter held his wife captive in a pumpkin shell and Jack sustained a skull fracture which Jill tried to replicate as she came tumbling after.
Maybe it is the nurse in me, but I see emergency departments filled with these casualties. Perhaps you’re seeing it reported on cable news or from the viewpoint of law enforcement.
I would be willing to bet that you have either sung “Rock-a-bye Baby” or had it sung to you. Did you, like me, picture that sweet fragile baby crashing to the ground when the windstorm breaks the limb upon which its cradle was hung? Could it be that the words really do not matter at all? Is it conceivable that the only thing that matters is that someone is lovingly singing a lullaby?
You may wonder what these four posts entitled Beauty are about and if so my job here is done. I want you to wonder, to question. I am interested in thoughts this series might have prompted. I would like to know your opinions, your favorite or least favorite children’s story, whether you reached any conclusions. Please share in the comments. Thank you.
Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes is brilliant. It seems much more like an adult tale than a child’s, but regardless there is such a valuable lesson contained in this story. It isn’t sing-song verse nor does it rhyme. It does not frighten but manages to carry a profound message.