Seattle's new "White Fragility" classes should be a big hit

If you live in the Seattle area, are white, and are feeling particularly guilty about that combination of facts (and all of your amazing priviledge), fear not. There’s a course available to help you get over this crippling condition. And better yet… it’s being funded by the taxpayers! (Fox News)

A city-run cultural program in Seattle is offering residents classes on “white fragility” to white folks understand why they can’t seem to handle matters involving race, and tickets have sold out.

Lecturer Robin DiAngelo, who coined the term, is teaching the taxpayer-funded class for the city Officeof Arts and Culture. She defines white fragility as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.”

Critics say it is just the latest attempt at spreading white guilt, following in the footsteps of concepts such as “white privilege.”

It’s being noted that the instructor, Robin DiAngelo, is also white, so at least she’s probably speaking from direct experience here. One curious aspect of the funding for this educational outreach is that it’s supposedly being provided by a taxpayer fueled department (the Office of Arts and Culture) but they’re still charging $60 a head to attend the class. Good work if you can get it, I suppose.

This course should be a good match with Whiteness History Month, honored not too very far down the road in Portland, Oregon. (Which we talked about last winter.) Meanwhile, at nearby Mt. Hood Community College, Diversity Resource Center coordinator Melinda Bullen is teaching a course on White Fragility. Given the fact that I just spent an entire column mocking the program, it sounds like I’m her ideal target audience.

Bullen also says white people need to be much harder on themselves. “Seeing yourself as well-meaning,” she said, “removes responsibility for your actions…good intentions are one of the great hindrances to honest conversations about race.”

You may have opened my eyes a bit today, Professor Bullen. I’ll see what I can do about removing those “good intentions.”