Social Justice Usage
Source: DiAngelo, Robin J. White Fragility: Why It’s so Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. Boston: Beacon Press, 2018, p. 112.
White equilibrium is a cocoon of racial comfort, centrality, superiority, entitlement, racial apathy, and obliviousness, all rooted in an identity of being good people free of racism. Challenging this cocoon throws off our racial balance. Because being racially off balance is so rare, we have not had to build the capacity to sustain the discomfort. Thus, whites find these challenges unbearable and want them to stop.
New Discourses Commentary
Social Justice doesn’t have a kind, charitable, or generous view of white people or the property that Theoretically binds them together, whiteness. More fairly, they don’t have such a view of dominant positions with respect to systemic power dynamics in society or the privilege that belonging to a group in possession of those “unearned advantages.” More accurately, however, they’ve used critical race Theory to ensure that what is meant by “dominant group” is, possibly eternally, “white people.”
According to Theory, occupying a position of privilege allows a person to avoid having to deal with or even understand the experiences of oppression and marginalization (see also, epistemic oppression, epistemic injustice, and hermeneutical injustice), or indeed of bigotries like racism or even of the concept of race itself (see also, white innocence). This, itself, is a further privilege. Furthermore, all privilege always works to protect, maintain, and justify itself by a variety of means (see also, internalized dominance, interest convergence, interest divergence, hegemony, individualism, universalism, meritocracy, human nature, colorblind; good white, active ignorance, mask; code; aversive racism; colortalk, pernicious ignorance, privilege-preserving epistemic pushback, racial contract, complicity, white fragility, white ignorance, white silence, white solidarity, white supremacy, willful ignorance, and false consciousness).
The idea of white equilibrium is that the allegedly comfortable state for white people conferred by this privilege is perceived as the (racial) equilibrium state, free of racial stress, which would be caused by engaging race, racism, whiteness, and so on authentically (that is, as Theory dictates) in an effort to do antiracism work (see also, epistemic friction). As critical race educator Robin DiAngelo tells us (elsewhere), because whites are comfortable with the racial status quo, anything that maintains white comfort is suspect, but because they have become “fragile” as a result of this comfort, resistance to antiracism work and Social Justice ideas is to be expected.
The purpose of the concept of white equilibrium is to insist that living with white privilege has rendered the range of racial awareness or “racial stress” that white people can endure very narrow (see also, racial stamina). Thus, it is reasonable to expect that white people will not take it well when Social Justice and antiracism concepts are (unjustly) applied to them, but not because of the injustice but because of the privilege they were socialized into and don’t know how to live without. As a result, white equilibrium is something that white people work together to maintain for themselves as an identity group (see also, white solidarity and racial contract).
Active racism; Antiracism; Authentic; Aversive racism; Code; Colorblind; Complicity; Critical race Theory; Epistemic friction; Epistemic injustice; Epistemic oppression; False consciousness; Good white; Hegemony; Hermeneutical injustice; Human nature; Individualism; Interest convergence; Interest divergence; Internalized dominance; Marginalization; Mask; Meritocracy; Oppression; Pernicious ignorance; Position; Privilege; Privilege-preserving epistemic pushback; Race; Racial contract; Racial stamina; Racial stress; Racism (systemic); Social Justice; Socialization; Status quo; Systemic power; Theory; Universalism; White; White comfort; White fragility; White ignorance; White innocence; White silence; White solidarity; White supremacy; Whiteness; Willful ignorance
Revision date: 1/31/20