This resentment of the success of POC & the myth that affirmative action is unfair hinges on the idea that we're supposed to be poorIn reading responses to Kendall's tweets I came across the acknowledgment that this scam is a few hundred years old. And this:
The best scam ever run on poor white people was the idea that their financial struggles are the fault of POC & not rich white people.
I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it. If you can convince the lowest white man that he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll even empty his pockets for you.So the need to feel superior is stronger than the need to feel economically secure.
– Lyndon Johnson
Sarah Watts, writing for Salon, defines and discusses, white fragility. First the definition, supplied by Dr. Robin DiAngelo, who coined the phrase. The quoted parts are DiAngelo, the rest is from Watts.
White fragility is "a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves." Most white people "live in a social environment that insulates them from race-based stress," due to their privilege as part of the cultural majority. In turn, whites are infrequently challenged and have less of a tolerance to race-based stress, causing them to be hostile, guilty, defensive, or fearful when confronted. In the end, white fragility ensures that conversations about race are derailed, and the status quo of white supremacy is upheld.Put another way: Most whites live where they don't have to confront race. When they are confronted by racism they feel uncomfortable. As the privileged class in America they expect they should not be made to feel uncomfortable. Thus they try to get out of the situation.
Watts then outlines several ways an ally can determine if they are feeling fragile.
* They change the subject.
* They use inappropriate humor to deflect. An example, "Black labs matter!"
* They get defensive or angry, usually at the person (of color) making them uncomfortable.
* They go out of their way to not focus on "the negative."