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Be anti-racist, call out white fragility

Letter

It has been great to read the latest opinion pieces by Tanith but I was shocked to see in the replies a great many responses that can only be referred to as “white fragility”.

White fragility refers to feelings of discomfort a white person feels when they encounter discussions around racial inequality or injustice.

The white person often becomes defensive and this can lead to the person of colour feeling obligated to comfort the white person because we live in a white-dominated society. It is a strategy that white people use to shut down conversations about racism.

The reactions we often see displayed by white people when they are confronted include anger, fear and guilt. A common response is to argue in defence of what they perceive to be their superior white culture.

Since white people rarely experience racism they often cannot see, feel or understand it.

It is, however, extremely important for all people to become anti-racist and call out white fragility. Being anti-racist is different from not being racist . . . anti-racism involves action.

For example, you are at home and your father says “Maori shouldn’t complain because they have had Treaty settlements”. Your Dad may realise that the settlements are only a tiny percentage of what was taken, but he chooses to ignore this fact. To be anti-racist in this situation means you challenge your father on this. You don’t just shrug it off and say, “Oh that’s just him saying racist stuff again.” You have a duty to intervene because he will not change his ways while you continually ignore it.

There are situations occurring like this every minute of the day. It is up to every NZer to challenge white fragility and not stay silent any more.

Maree Conaglen

  1. Peter Jones says:

    Tanith makes a great white man.
    He is witty and his command of the english language is impressive.

  2. Russell McLeod says:

    Tautoko this.