Listen, I consider it to be one of the least appealing parts of my personality, my dislike for being wrong. Even more than being wrong, I hate being called out for in in public. I don't know if it comes from being the youngest of 7 (and therefore the last to learn everything) but I embarrass easily (which is usually a surprise to people because I manifest a lot of public confidence) when put on the spot and corrected. I hate being corrected. I feel a sense of shame. And when my shame voice turns on, the first thing I want to do is point a finger. The defensiveness just is. I don't call it into a situation. It's just there.
So please take my admonition with this in mind. That I see white fragility through the lens of my own distaste for correction. That shame fills me when I am the recipient of a pointed finger. (As a laughable aside, I find it to be truly one of life's greatest jokes that I share such personal things online with this "stick up my butt" piece of my personality. It's just karmic hilarity at its finest). In order for a white person to identify their own fragility, own it, claim it, learn it and hopefully, in time, keep it in check, one must be willing to make a pretty big ass of oneself. I find white fragility to be both humiliating, repulsive and absolutely innate to my life experience. It was not a choice to be fragile, but rather my reality from birth.
HOWEVER, as I become more aware of my preciousness, I do get to choose. Do I out myself or do I defend myself? These are the two choices. Be corrected or be an ass. I'm sorry. Both choices suck, am I right? I alluded to this issue in my post almost exactly one year ago (weird) about being a "clumsy advocate" for racial justice. I say stupid things. I'm learning. And when you learn, you look like an idiot at first. Have you ever watched a child learn to walk? Yes, we ooh and ahh, but when an adult does it, we hand them a breathalyzer. It's not as cute. This is the same. When (not if, but when) someone points out your white fragility to you, you might stumble in shame. You might be tempted to defend your position and so many white people have shown you the way. It is so fucking easy. And people will cheer you on because "snowflakes" and "political correctness" are jokes.
Here's the challenge: can you lean in instead of out? When you perceive a slap, what would it look like for you to lean into it? (I could reference Jesus here but I won't). Is there a lesson in correction? Is it possible that you're not done learning about privilege, fragility and racial injustice, white American? Is it possible? I guarantee I'm not done learning. But I am leaning in to the feedback. And I've stumbled a few less times since I wrote that post a year ago. I'm not a great example. I've got A LONG ROAD ahead of me. But I might be a year or two ahead of you on this life-long road (I'm also light years behind a lot of people) and I highly recommend taking the slap.
Please check your posture. If you can't listen to negative feedback, even when correct, you will never grow. Your children are watching. Your country needs you. People of color need you to wake up. Not in a white savior kind of way but in a please stop beating innocent people in police department parking lots kind of way. For the love of God, LEAN IN.