I’m a racist – not the kind of racist who hurts people – but the kind of racist who was ignorant of the 400+ year untold history of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) in this country and not really understanding the systemic racism impacting BIPOC. After all, being white – not my problem. I was socialized in all things white. I grew up in white communities, attended primarily white schools including college, white Boy Scout troop, and white church. I’ve had the tailwinds of white privilege all of my life.
Back in 2000, I found my dream job as Venture Out! Director at Camp Joy, Clarksville, OH. One of the first retreats I inherited was the 2-day Urban League retreat with 40 BIPOC facilitated by myself and two other white people. During a break, I shared with the group that I was trying to build our corporate adjunct pool and if any of the Urban League participants were interested in becoming adjuncts, please speak with me.
One BIPOC, replied to me in front of the whole group, “This is a white person’s job!” I was shocked! This began my diversity journey to exploring my white privilege and racism. I did have a couple of BIPOC come to me and asked for more information on what becoming an adjunct entailed. One of those BIPOC became one of my closest, dearest friends, and opened my eyes to being a BIPOC.
The diversity journey intensified in 2009 when our daughter came out to her mother and me that she was gay. I had to confront my “gay fragility!” and my heterosexual privilege.
White Fragility is a tough read for white people. DiAngelo hits the reader head-on in the introduction:
“This book is intended for…white progressives who so often – despite our conscious intentions – make life so difficult for POC. I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to POC. I define white progressives as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the “choir,” or already “gets it.” White progressives can be the most difficult for POC because to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual antiracist practice. White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetuate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so.” page 5