Last summer, I visited the new National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, which is more widely known as “the lynching museum.” Touring both campuses, it was a long day feeling one of the horrors of history come alive. For example, I learned about the man that was lynched in my own hometown. It is a history museum . . . and much more! (By the way, the victims of slavery are referred to as “enslaved persons” – not as slaves.)
I also learned the people are not merely racists or non-racists. All non-racists are actually racists. You are either pro-racist or anti-racist. If you are not actively fighting racism on a daily basis, then you must be racist.
That was a good learning experience. Then, I read “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo, which was a different learning experience. It was written BY a white woman, who teaches white people how to talk with black people. It was written FOR those people who hold every emotion and every thought up to the light and scrutinize it. She too argues you are a racist unless you are anti-racist. You have an affirmative responsibility to point-out the “micro-aggressions” of your friends. Indeed, the book is 153 pages of micro-aggressions, such as talking over a black person or ignoring their opinion. (Apparently, the only reason you ever talk over someone or ignore their opinion is because of race?)
Improved discussion of racial issues are certainly necessary, no question! Here is a proper statement by a white person to a black person: “I’m sorry your ancestors were so brutalized and pray my ancestors were not involved. I’m sorry you did not benefit from the ‘white privilege’ which gave me so many of the advantages you do not have. I know your life experiences are very different from mine and would appreciate you sharing those experiences with me.” Then, shut up and listen . . .
While I’m sure Diangelo’s heart is in the right place, I prefer the historical approach in the museum rather than the emotional approach in the book.