My Own Fragility
Response to Robin DiAngelo's article "White Fragility."
I took out my permanent marker from my drawer and wrote “CELEBRATE DIFFERENCES” on a piece of cardstock and taped it to my desk in the dance department. This occurred immediately after discussing Robin DiAngelo’s article “White Fragility” in my Teaching Methods and Materials for Dance class. It is increasingly more important in all education, but especially dance education, to celebrate the differences of our peers, teachers and students. Each time I read DiAngelo’s work, a new aspect of the article draws my attention. Several thoughts struck me when I paired this article with thinking about how we can bring this complicated and difficult subject matter into the dance studio, while celebrating each student’s culture and experiences.
Racial inequality, segregation and racism unfortunately frequents our world, and the dance world is not immune to these prejudices. As a white women whose background is mainly Western-based dance forms including classical ballet and modern, I believe it is even more important for me to continue my research as to how I can help begin and continue conversations about race, racism, racial inequality and culturally appropriate teaching in predominately white studio and school settings. There is a limitation in my understanding of racism as a white person, as DiAngelo explains, “most whites have not been trained to think complexly about racism in schools or mainstream discourse” (DiAngelo 2016, 61). Race and racism is too often not discussed or even thought about in white-dominated dance settings. But these are the settings where conversations about race need to be had so we can help our white students and students of color become citizens who do not hide away from uncomfortable discussions regarding racial inequality and cultural differences. I believe these conversations will open doors in our minds to celebrate differences in people—whether it is skin color, cultural background, primary speaking language or dance style.