I’ve been noticing my own white fragility these last few months after the murder of George Floyd, and it has been an education long overdue for me: to see myself in racial terms, to understand how I benefit from a culture of white supremacy, to reckon with my complicity. But white fragility is just one of many interconnected fragilities: there is also male fragility.
I was reminded of how pervasive that fragility is after hearing Congresswoman AOC’s speech last week where she eloquently and powerfully spoke about representative Ted Yoho’s verbal abuse aimed at her and his non-apology apology. From his initial abuse to his subsequent deflections, his behavior has strikingly similar origins to much of the behavior characterized as white fragility.
We can’t look at a culture of white supremacy without understanding its interconnectedness with a culture of patriarchy, and both cultures orbit around the need for preserving power and control. White and male fragility are anchored in fears about preserving power. These fragilities rest on questions of “Is power zero-sum or positive-sum?” And “Is my claim on that power under threat?”