5 Days to 2018 – Fixing White Fragility at Work

The fragility of white people is massive, and under a microscope. This is good. It’s not persecution, racism or reverse racism, which doesn’t actually exist.

All the work I do in my keynote speaking areas, Path Consulting, organizational design and stakeholder engagement consulting, intriguing new green energy projects, and Health and Wellness for Teachers–all of these encounter this underlying theme of white entitlement being challenged and white people digging in to protect themselves.

That’s why everyone needs to read this:

Why White People Freak Out When They’re Called Out About Race

Not only is the Good Men Project an inspiring, grounding group of wise folks, but calling out racial privilege is essential for any kind of social, political, economic or environmental progress.

From a perspective of a white person, the world looks a certain way. And it’s easy to assume everyone else sees the world like us. But they don’t. It is impossible for us to fully understand how others see it. But it’s our job to do all the work we can to truly hear how others see the world, and the place of white folks in it.

For many people, Eddy Murphy helped start defining white privilege on Saturday Night Live when he dressed up as a white man in 1984, just to see the other side. It was hilarious, partly because it was not exactly so factually accurate [in my experience], but it was profoundly true.

White folks who reject the idea of white privilege/fragility, or minimize it, or try to exempt themselves personally from it all, undermine our overall mission to create a society of equality and justice. Without that shared frame, we cannot accomplish any kind of social, political, economic or environmental progress. We have no common understanding of the issue.

In all of our social, economic, political, environmental activities we need to seek out understanding of how our actions and inactions contribute to injustice. We are seeing this in a clunky fashion in #MeToo versus #NotAllMen and #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter.

Refusing to engage in conversations about privilege and entitlement makes US the impediment, even if we’re nice guys and nice white people. Because in the end, we have no idea the extent of how white or male entitlement got us to where we are, or surrounds all of our actions, inactions and work.

The onus is on us to open up and listen and to encourage our fellow white/male folks to do the work too. It pays off, in ways impossible to predict, but in necessary ways for real change to happen.

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