Re-centering the Conversation

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Observing White Fragility as a minority and as a missiologist.

As a theologically conservative Asian-American, I must admit that reading White Fragility felt a little like listening to someone else’s family meeting. This should not be surprising since Robin DiAngelo is clear that her intended audience is white progressives like herself.[i] One of the first-round reviewers, Allison Ash, points this out in her article, but also believes DiAngelo’s book can apply to white conservatives and Christians alike. And while not explicitly written this way, George Yancey’s full review is an important outsider’s perspective as an African-American and as a social scientist.

It is this outsider’s perspective that I specifically want to address.

There is no monolithic non-white perspective on the ideas described in White Fragility but it is important to acknowledge they exist. To put it plainly, non-whites are watching whites have this conversation amongst themselves. From my perspective, some of it is hit or miss as pointed out by many of the first-round reviewers. For a long time, whether progressive, conservative, racist, or an ally, whites have managed much of the narrative for how race is framed and talked about in America. And whether non-whites find DiAngelo’s ideas helpful or harmful or a combination of both, the outsider dynamic to this conversation increasingly matters as we consider that the percentage of the white population in America continues to shrink and the complexity of racial categories continues to grow.

My aim here is to frame a perspective of how I see this conversation developing, first through the eyes of a minority in America and second as a missiologist concerned with how this fits into Christian mission.

The Process of Becoming a Minority …

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