I think it's wonderful for people to get together and discuss racism, and to be as frank and open as possible while doing so. I can't imagine a good workshop would ever have anyone feeling comfortable at the conclusion of it.

That said, even assuming I as a white person attended such a meeting as open to the process as I could possibly be, I'm still going to leave and live a more privileged life. Dealing with my personal racism, no matter how we define that word, is a bit like dealing with my personal contribution to climate change; regardless of what I do at the personal level the systems that have institutionalized inequality will still be in place. If we really want to reduce carbon emissions we need everyone to participate in the effort and dealing with racism is no different. That doesn’t just mean everyone being personally aware of the problem but actually changing the structures so that the proper incentives and disincentives are in place.

Though I'm a US citizen, I'm not currently living in the US. However, if I was it's likely my neighborhood school would receive more funding than a school located in a neighborhood populated mostly by minorities. This means my child (now grown) received a better education than most black, Hispanic, and Indigenous children in the US. Even if I had somehow purged all implicit and explicit biases from my life before she started school that would have still been the case. Likewise, I could slap a bumper sticker on my car inviting the local police department to pull me over and still wouldn't have the kind of experiences with police that minorities must endure.

So while I'm not opposed to dealing with my "white fragility" until school district funding is equalized so rich and middle-class neighborhoods don't receive far more funding than poor and disproportionately minority neighborhoods do the wealth gap between white and minority communities will just keep on rolling on from one generation to the next. This, in turn, has consequences for the level and types of crime in these communities which has consequences for encounters with police all while reinforcing the most negative stereotypes about minorities. It should go without saying that a lack of educational opportunities early in life also has lasting consequences for job prospects down the road. Likewise, until healthcare is truly universal we can expect differences in access to it that correlates with both race and income.

Our goal as a society must be to put people such as yourself out of business as a facilitator of these types of workshops. Unfortunately, as long as white people are leaving those workshops and enjoying the same privileges whether they feel good about it or not or are more aware of it or not won't matter much. Neither will how minorities feel about this gap in how people are treated according to their race. I, like all people who enjoy certain privileges disproportionately on account of structural factors beyond my personal control, can't not benefit from those privileges even if I want to. Nor can disadvantaged minorities just be expected to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, especially given those same structural disadvantages. The goal cannot be to simply acknowledge our racism and fragility. That acknowledgment somehow must translate into structural change and for that, we need serious reform.

Written by

US citizen residing in British Columbia, Canada. Degrees include anthropology and environmental studies. Activism, politics, science, nature.

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