Let’s Talk About White Fragility (Dear John Part 3)

Yesterday, I went on a long walk.

Exactly a month ago, I told white people what I wanted. I wanted white people to listen to people of color. I want white people to rip out their hearts and stand beside us in the streets. I want white people to do the necessary work.

I gave you my story. Does it make you cringe? Goosebumps, maybe? And when it’s from someone you know, that you love, that you are proud of, does it feel different in your chest?

Why?

Does racism need to be personal for you to care?

Why?

Some do not want to do the work. This is disappointing.

But what is it that I’m wanting? I’ll tell you in a heartbeat that I just want to get through to one person. But additionally, at the end of the day, in my heart of hearts I actually want policy change.

You choose the feeling, the taste on your tongue. Is it bitter or is it sweet?

Your story will touch the world, but only if you share it.

Your story will face opposition, but does that really matter?

We will not feel defeated.

Stand deep in your roots and values. Sleep well. Take a bath.

Do I bare my heart in explanation and sit patiently? Do I read rebuttal after rebuttal, encounter white fragility, conflict, and Facebook fingers? Do I push for the conversation anyway? Do I respond with kindness or not at all? And when angered, should I pause or continue?

What is it that I want?

But what do I really owe to anyone but myself?

We will not feel defeated.

Love always, Tianna

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Below is the comment from a family friend. This blog post is a second response to a family friend’s comment I received last night. The first conversation and response were posted yesterday- Let’s Talk About White Fragility (Dear John Part 2). Again, thank you for reading.

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Family Friend’s Comment

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Thank you for your response.

I took a while to respond because I went on a walk. I took a step back and thought about what you said. To listen to all sides like you said. Then, I called my mom in tears. In 30 years, if any of my white friends ever commented on my adult child’s social media page, quietly defending subtle racism, I would seriously reconsider that friendship. 

I welcome conversation as a means for growth. Surely, I can continue growing and learning too. I am not going to cut you off due to your comments because I believe dialogue is necessary and valuable. Instead, I went for a walk and placed myself in your shoes. But, this time as you read my response, consider my perspective and listen to my words.

Your response is still another display of white fragility. I say this with empathy and compassion.

I’ve been unemployed for five months now. At my last job I lasted for two months. My boss, who is the president of the company, said Black women were prostitutes, not worthy of working at the company, uneducated, and unintelligent. Can you imagine what I felt when I heard this on a video conference call that I was in charge of being a notetaker? Do you know my white colleagues (all in upper management) continued with jokes about Black women and Mexicans until someone realized that I was on the call? 

My boss says he voted for Obama. He graduated from Duke University. He traveled the world. He speaks two languages. He identifies as a liberal white man. He is extremely wealthy, well-educated, his closest friend is a Black person, and his children have Black friends. Yet, when I sat down to address the comments that came out of his mouth, he told me that people are allowed to say what they want. 

He said he has Black friends that he considers family. 

I told him that as the only Black woman who worked for the company that his comments are gross, racist, sexist, divisive, discriminatory, and quite frankly, make me rather uncomfortable.

He told me nothing was going to change. I grabbed my purse and walked out of the door.

This was my last day of work.

I am exhausted. I was still reeling from my experience with the State Department.

This is a teaching opportunity and an opportunity for growth. I know my response made you uncomfortable. Your response only addresses how white fragility is not your issue, that “racist is a powerful word” and how your family is half black and half white. 

You can have a mixed family and still dabble in white fragility. You can love your Black husband with all of your heart and still engage in racist behaviors and actions.

My point is that John’s comments chip away at the confidence, self-esteem, autonomy, pride, and joy of Black and Brown children all across our country. When you defend John, this is what you are aligning yourself with. 

My mother and father love you. I think you owe it to yourself to do the work. I invite you to open your heart to my comment and sit and think about what I said. Then, I invite you to read and dissect the book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism by Robin DiAngelo. Here is the link to purchase the book from a Black-Owned Bookstore (Malik Books) in California, not far from your home- 

https://malikbooks.com/shop/ols/products/white-fragility-why-its-so-hard-for-white-people-to-talk-about-racism-by-robin-diangelo.

Ironically, this is not too far from my parents’ first apartment and my first home in Inglewood, CA. 

Additionally, I hope that you will reread the comments of my dear friend, Ernest.

We met through a mutual friend at a concert two years ago when I first started working for the State Department in Washington, D.C. 

His profile on Forbes.com states that he is a “policy analyst dedicated to correcting the course of American higher education by centering the voice and action of students and historically underserved communities.” As Ernest continues using his voice to influence meaningful change in our communities and our county, there is a beautiful opportunity for you to learn, listen, and uplift voices like his. I encourage you to check out his work below- 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/ernestezeugo/#2ac22b47ac3d

https://www.campusleaders.org/story/883/nclc-welcomes-ernest-ezeugo

A person who looks within, does the work, and advocates for others is earnest. 

I believe you have what it takes.

Take care and stay safe.

Love Tianna.

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https://www.gofundme.com/f/A-Love-Letter-To-Durham-North-Carolina. ** Please consider donating to my community.

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About White Fragility (Dear John Part 3)

  1. Tianna, I hear you, and I admire you. I am following your work here and it is helping to open my eyes, broaden my perspective. Thank you for your vulnerability and willingness to share your reality with the world. Thank you for continuing to fight for fairness in our country. I will continue to seek ways to do the same.

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  2. Good job Tianna!!! You have become stronger and stronger through all of this. It appears to me that you are becoming the spokesperson for not only your generation, but people of color all over the globe. For this I am So Very Proud of you.
    What used to be whispers in the corner of an alley, is now being shouted from pinnacles in each of our souls. Some may not be ready to hear yet, but when the seed is planted, the flora of love and understanding will grow. Afterall, we are all One. Love you so very much!!! xoxox Aunt Chery.

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