Suejeanne Koh on White Fragility
Updated: Mar 31
Suejeanne Koh reviews three books—Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, Robert P. Jones’s White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, and Khyati Y. Joshi’s White Christian Privilege—and discusses the intersections of whiteness and Christianity.
For W.E.B. Du Bois, to evoke both feel and problem in the above quote is to see himself through the eyes of the white American and understand himself in terms of deficit. But while Du Bois doesn’t deny that structural racism exists, in the word feel he creates distance from only seeing himself as a problem, pointing instead to the possibility and vitality of the Black intellectual project as a spiritual task. Du Bois’s evocation of feeling in this context interrogates the defining white gaze, a gaze that might assert that to be American is to be white; to feel is to slip out of this moral accounting and to insist on the viability of being Black and American.
Employing Du Bois’s insight of feeling in this way might help us to think differently through a particular phenomenon in our contemporary moment—the proliferation of book discussions on race, racism, and anti-racism in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, and more specifically in Christian communities....Read more.