June 11, 2015
When culturally sponsored privilege is exposed and challenged, those who benefit from it often turn to hate and aggression. Associate professor at Westfield State University in Massachusetts, Robin DiAngelo, refers to the manifestation of this social phenomenon in the United States as “White Fragility.” She explains how many white people in North America live in insulated social and media spaces that largely protect them from social stress. As such, whenever they encounter this stress, their privileged fragility leaves them unable to tolerate challenges to their belief systems.
When privilege is exposed and challenged, it is not seen by the privileged as a leveling, but as a threat to their existence. It triggers a sense of fragility and thus spawns a defensive posture towards everything and everyone who is different.
DiAngelo’s research is disappointing to those who expect all Christians to be committed to Jesus’ command to love one’s neighbors (no matter what), but it does help expose and clarify one of the cancers afflicting modern America.
Recognition is the first step to recovery.