Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

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  Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism

Dr. Robin DiAngelo explains why white people implode when talking about race.

I am white. I have spent years studying what it means to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet is deeply divided by race. This is what I have learned: Any white person living in the United States will develop opinions about race simply by swimming in the water of our culture. But mainstream sources — schools, textbooks, media — don’t provide us with the multiple perspectives we need. Yes, we will develop strong emotionally laden opinions, but they will not be informed opinions. Our socialization renders us racially illiterate. When you add a lack of humility to that illiteracy (because we don’t know what we don’t know), you get the break-down we so often see when trying to engage white people in meaningful conversations about race.

By Dr. Robin DiAngelo, associate professor of critical multicultural and social justice education at Westfield State University, Westfiled, MA.