This past week, America has been saturated in tragedy over the Charleston, SC shooting in which Dylann Roof shot and killed nine Black individuals at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a crime for which he has now been charged.
Soon after, Dr. Robin Diangelo published an article on Alternet denoting the “11 Ways White America Avoids Taking Responsibility for its Racism.” Dr. Diangelo self-identifies as a white man who is aware of his place in a society that claims to be post-racial. His efforts are geared towards helping people understand the difference between individual and structural understandings of racism:
“A fundamental but very challenging part of my work is moving white people from an individual understanding of racism—i.e. only some people are racist and those people are bad—to a structural understanding. A structural understanding recognizes racism as a default system that institutionalizes an unequal distribution of resources and power between white people and people of color. This system is historic, taken for granted, deeply embedded, and it works to the benefit of whites.”
– Dr. Diangelo
His 11 ways, or excuses if you will, are as follows:
- Do not give me feedback on my racism under any circumstances. If you break the cardinal rule:
- Proper tone is crucial – feedback must be given calmly. If there is any emotion in the feedback, the feedback is invalid and does not have to be considered.
- There must be trust between us. You must trust that I am in no way racist before you can give me feedback on my racism.
- Our relationship must be issue-free. If there are issues between us, you cannot give me feedback on racism.
- Feedback must be given immediately. Otherwise it will be discounted because it was not given sooner.
- You must give feedback privately, regardless of whether the incident occurred in front of other people. To give feedback in front of anyone else—even those involved in the situation—is to commit a serious social transgression. The feedback is
- You must be as indirect as possible. To be direct is to be insensitive and will invalidate the feedback and require repair.
- As a white person I must feel completely safe during any discussion of race. Giving me any feedback on my racism will cause me to feel unsafe, so you will need to rebuild my trust by
never giving me feedback again. Point of clarification: when I say “safe” what I really mean is “comfortable.”
- Giving me feedback on my racial privilege invalidates the form of oppression that I experience. (i.e. classism, sexism, heterosexism). We will then need to focus on how you oppressed me.
- You must focus on my intentions. Which cancel out the impact of my behavior.
- To suggest my behavior had a racist impact is to have misunderstood me. You will need to allow me to explain until you can acknowledge that it was your misunderstanding.
For Dr. Diangelo’s full article, click here.
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