Students, faculty and staff packed into Hargreaves 201, Tuesday, Jan. 29, eager to hear EWU President Mary Cullinan and Claudine Richardson, director of student development, diversity and equity, discuss the prevailing societal issue of white fragility.
A term used to describe the dismissal and defensiveness white Americans exhibit when accused of racism, white fragility was coined by Robin DiAngelo, affiliate associate professor of education at the University of Washington, as an explanation as to why racial discrimination is still alive in North America.
Following the president’s dialogue, Richardson took to the stage to further discuss the topic. By using words like “diversity” and “inclusion,” she said, we soften the subject matter of a subject that should not be softened.
Throughout the presentation, students and instructors also provided input, offering possible solutions to the question at hand: What can you do to combat white fragility? The answer, said Richardson, involves standing up to racism for the right reasons, rather than simply for the promise of social approval.
“If you feel like it’s uncomfortable; that’s okay. It’s working,” Richardson said in reference to calling out racism in public spaces. “If it were comfortable, you wouldn’t be doing a good job.”