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Failure to acknowledge privilege is classic ‘white fragility’

Dear Sir,

We have a limited amount of space for opinion pieces, which I mention to point out that it is not possible to address every matter of import related to this subject. But I could see that some white people living in an integrated island are as unable to stand back and take an objective look at an issue that is outside of their experience or interest as those who don't have even that much exposure.

Do they think they will lose something by admitting the existence of white privilege and its effects? This is what is known as “white fragility” and the comments were peppered with the easily offended, bitter but insistent repetition and need to be right that's the hallmark of fragile whites when racism is the topic.

To set the record straight, Black Lives Matter does not advocate violence against whites — that's just white fear speaking, attempting to derail the support for BLM just as white fear tried to derail Martin Luther King Jr 50 years ago. Bringing “black on black” violence into the fray is another white fear tactic, which has no place here.

That particular deflection is a favourite of the Sean Hannitys and Matt Drudges — it is meaningless as statistically most victims of violence are victims of someone they know, therefore the effects of structural racism, which segregate the neighbourhoods contribute heavily to this statistic and so “white on white” crime is just as prevalent — but no one is bringing up the higher percentages attributed to whites killing whites.

This deflection also ignores the existence of all the organisations aimed at curbing the violence in black communities that have been around for years. Stating that “black on black” violence has not been addressed just shows one's ignorance. No one, least of all black people, deny this is an issue, but BLM is concerned with justice — or a lack of it. It's a different conversation that does not deserve to be diluted by white denial.

If you look at the statistics put together by both The Washington Post and The Guardian, and the Department of Justice's findings on the Baltimore Police Department, inter alia, and still deny the marginalisation — and all that goes along with it — faced by black communities, then you're part of the problem.

Supporting BLM does not mean that by default one necessarily agrees with everything that its leaders and spokesmen say — I don't — or every demand laid out in its agenda. However, it is not unusual to make your “ask” exceed what you would accept after reasonable discourse and negotiations.

I would not dismiss the entire US Constitution because I oppose the 2nd Amendment, so why are some so ready to point at one objectionable agenda item or one supporter's divisive behaviour to write off the entire movement? Why? White fragility.

And there are those who cannot fathom why some of us will not stay silenced when racism or discrimination oppresses others — by default elevating people like me; why would I speak out and acknowledge my unfair advantages, thereby setting in motion their destruction? Because to stay silent in times of moral ambiguity is not an option and I don't do guilt — it's such a useless emotion that can be vanquished by doing the next right thing.

NICOLETTE REISS

Misunderstood cause: Black Lives Matter does not advocate violence against whites - that's just white fear speaking, attempting to derail its support

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Published August 16, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated August 17, 2016 at 11:05 am)

Failure to acknowledge privilege is classic ‘white fragility’

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