Why can it be so hard for white people to talk about race?

As Robin DiAngelo writes in White Fragility, “White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range  of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors,  in  turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. Racial stress results from an interruption to what is racially familiar. These interruptions can take a variety of forms and come from a range of sources, including:

•   Suggesting that a white person’s viewpoint comes from a racialized frame of reference (challenge to objectivity)

•   People of color talking directly about their racial perspectives (challenge to white racial codes)

•   People of color choosing not to protect the racial feelings of white people in  regards  to  race  (challenge  to  white racial expectations and need/entitlement to racial comfort)

•   People of color not being willing to tell their stories or answer questions about their racial experiences (challenge to colonialist relations)

•   A fellow white not providing agreement with one’s interpretations (challenge to white solidarity)

•   Receiving feedback that one’s behavior had a racist impact (challenge to white liberalism)

•   Suggesting that group membership is significant (challenge to individualism)

•   An acknowledgment that access is unequal between racial groups (challenge to meritocracy)

•   Being presented with a person of color in a position of leadership (challenge to white authority)

•   Being presented with information about other racial groups through, for example, movies in which people of color drive the action but are not in stereotypical  roles,  or multicultural  education  (challenge to white centrality)”