White fragility is a very specific term.
I’m often seeing it conflated with things like the effects of trauma.
White fragility: White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This paper explicates the dynamics of White Fragility. – Robin DiAngelo
It’s certainly true that the effects of trauma and White fragility can exist within one person, and that they can overlap and interact with one another. Humans are complex, not just stereotypical one-dimensional personas.
Lots of other things can interact with White fragility – personality traits (introversion, extraversion, sensitivity . . .) developmental and personal growth issues and more.
I believe it’s important for us as White folks to take the time to untangle our reactions, to see ourselves clearly and with compassion, and take responsibility for our own resilience around race related issues.
Just a bit ago I shared a post by Kate Courageous – and this line says it well: “Self-care is not “checking out.” Self-care is doing what builds resilience.”
What I often see is White folks bringing “their stuff” into conversations about race with POC, or into anti-racism social justice groups.
That does two things: turns the tables away from the issues of racism to take care of you and sends the message that POC need to stop and help you work through your stuff.
Do many of us need to work through our stuff? Yes. And those situations are not the place to do it.
I am offering a month-long workshop on White Privilege and Fragility.
Doing this work, digging beneath your reactions to find your resilience, is self-care. And when we do that our capacity for empathy grows.