by Sara Kim
Originally published: January 29, 2017
I was curious to get the opinion of the very person who coined the phrase “white fragility” on the interaction with my coworker. Dr. DiAngelo has worked for over 20 years doing workplace diversity training and leading primarily white groups in discussions of race and racism. She takes the so-called “anti-racist” approach, which acknowledges and challenges the historic and current power differentials between people of color and white people in the U.S. She addresses patterns that develop due to the dynamics of internalized racism and internalized dominance.
Dr. DiAngelo explained that what’s being done when you’re asked where you’re from “is that white people get to be individuals, but you’re always being racialized. So every moment of that, [some will call it] ‘curiosity,’ but I’m racializing you—I’m reminding you that you’re never going to be seen as an individual, and you will be a perpetual outsider or foreigner. And, also…if you’re the ‘other’ then I [as a white person] am the norm. I get some deep psychological capital from making you the ‘other’. But I also get to do it in a way that has me feeling open and friendly to you, so I’m like, ‘Look how not racist I am.’”