And Why I Picked Up White Rage Instead
Full disclosure, I have not read White Fragility yet. I had seen a couple of impassioned resources that did not recommend reading this book as one of the first introductions to antiracism. (Some resources downright suggest staying away from it entirely.)
While there are many reasons behind this, here is one of the ways that I internalized it:
Imagine, for a moment, that instead of the Black Lives Matter movement, we were facing an entirely different one. For the sake of naming consistency, let’s call it the “Women’s Lives Matter” movement. Let’s say the fight is against “Male Supremacy”, and men have been raping and killing women with the same lack of shame that police have been brutal to people of color.
Now, further, let’s say we’re trying to bolster an antisexist movement. It’s not enough to say that you’re nice to women and don’t actively rape and kill them. To be truly antisexist you need to educate yourself further and learn how to elevate women in society.
To do this, would you read a book called Toxic Masculinity? Probably. On the outside, it seems important. Might cause men say they are acting the way they are because masculinity is toxic, and thus this cycle of violence isn’t their fault, but the book is written by an educated author who has a lot of background in the subject. The book has also gotten solid reviews from other educated resources.
But what if the book was written by a cis-male?
That… seems a little counter intuitive.
The people who are hurting in my fictitious scenario here are the women. In order to help them, shouldn’t we be hearing their voices regarding toxic masculinity instead of somebody who’s benefited from the patriarchal systems he’s denouncing? He might be educated about the subject and have a lot of useful information, but his perspective is not what we need when we’re fighting for the Women’s Lives Matter movement.
Going back to reality, that’s why I picked up the book White Rage over White Fragility. As a Black author, Carol Anderson is able to bring a different, more relevant perspective onto the same concept that needs to be understood. As a white person, I would much rather hear about the ills of white supremacy from a person of color than from somebody else who shares my background.
I picked up the book this week and am looking forward to sharing my thoughts here soon. For now, though, if you have read this post, please consider choosing something other than White Fragility as your first foray into antiracism. If you need ideas, you can see my fledgling list here.