Empathy & white fragility
Having empathy for someone who is going through something you’ve never experienced can be hard, but is not impossible.
When we hear moving stories it’s often easy to see ourselves in the protagonist’s position. It can get trickier if the story is more complicated or involves hundreds of years of backstory. Or when hearing the story triggers defensiveness.
The news about George Floyd, who was murdered by police in the US, has been heart-wrenching. It’s highlighted once again how pervasive racism is and with it white fragility.
Becoming defensive when someone tells you of their experience means you’re shutting yourself off from listening. You can’t hear or feel it.
“Racism is a white problem. It was constructed and created by white people and the ultimate responsibility lies with white people. For too long we’ve looked at it as if it were someone else’s problem, as if it was created in a vacuum. I want to push against that narrative.”Robin diAngelo
White people need to sit, listen and watch. We need to reflect on what our whiteness means and what being a white person means in 2020. It’s about time.