An assistant professor at the University of Iowa recently argued that “white neurosis” and “white fragility” have become more widespread since the 2016 election.
In an article published in Whiteness and Education, Professor Leslie Ann Locke suggested that “since the 2016 presidential election, it has become almost unbearably clear that white neurosis and white fragility are widespread phenomena.”
“It has become almost unbearably clear that white neurosis and white fragility are widespread phenomena.”
Describing “white neurosis” as a condition in which white people react “defensively, aggressively, or defectively” when they’re reprimanded for their privilege, Locke argues that such a “neurosis” corresponds with “white fragility,” a phrase describing the ways in which white people “freak out” when asked to reflect on their privilege.
Further, Locke claims that white people, particularly those who grew up poor, feel a need to “compete” for a sense of marginalization with racial minorities, a competition Locke thinks is futile because the types of oppression experienced are not “equivalent.”
“With the dog whistle call to ‘make America great again,’ competition for marginality is real, being critical is a threat and race and racism remain too easy for whites to wilfully ignore,” Locke asserts.
Additionally, she argues that white people (and other groups of allegedly privileged people) suffer from a disease of sorts, noting that “privilege creates a pathology” allowing “for the ignorance, protection, and tolerance of white supremacy.”