It is not every day that you walk into a work meeting and discuss race - or white fragility (defined as the inability for white people to tolerate racial stress, preventing them from engaging constructively across race), but at a recent WASHAA meeting that is exactly how we started it. Led by Robin DiAngelo, our working group was challenged to consider how an absence of diverse experience, opinion and background leaves a gaping hole in whatever work is pursued.
Her discussion provoked our thinking and shined a light on our own limitations and failings based on the environment we live and operate in. We all like to think of ourselves as anti-racist. But, I know as a white woman I cannot totally understand what it means to be another race. After listening to Robin DiAngelo, I would like to learn more and be engaged in trying to understand better and take action to support anti-racist living.
The reality is most of us have a long way to go to taking action to really understand what 'inclusive,' and 'diverse' mean in everything we do. Our brief time with Robin DiAngelo sparked a lot of questions from our group: how do we go about including people from communities we don't know? Do we stop working on our program until we figure this out? What would it look like to invite and incorporate different needs and priorities from communities?
Our working group discussed these questions and knowing that we, as a primarily white group have a lot of work to do. We will be contacting communities to see how we can engage in conversation about health advocacy and how we see and experience health advocacy challenges from differing points of view. If you are receiving this newsletter and want to join the conversation - please contact WASHAA at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have suggestions about communities or people for us to talk with and/or people who want to join our efforts, we would love to hear from you!
DiAngelo, is an expert on race relations and is the current Director of Equity for Senior Services, Seattle/King County. She has been a consultant and trainer for over 20 years on issues of racial and social justice.
Have comments? Please Email Robin and submit your feedback