white fragility
Pass the Mic How to be an Ally 101

De-Centering Whiteness in our Conversations (PTM 221)

Abigail Murrish

Tyler is joined by special guest Ally Henny to discuss white fragility and what it means to “de-center” whiteness in our conversations on race and our theological discourse. Tune in as they discuss the history of the PTM FB Group and the ups and downs they’ve had in public talking about race in multi-ethnic settings.

Tyler Burns: This isn’t about getting to some random goal of rightness… it’s about getting to a place of health where we see God clearly and we see each other clearly and with dignity.

Ally Henny: Even in spaces that are predominately black, we still have to deal with this idea of decentering whiteness. We have to look at how we think about the world. We have to interrogate our mindsets [and ask]: Is this a mindset that was born to protect white supremacy?

Ally Henny: The conversation can’t go forward if you’re constantly having people whose feelings are hurt, or who are constantly lashing out and being harmful and questioning every little thing.

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Show Hosts: Jemar Tisby + Tyler Burns • Producer: Beau York + Podastery Studios • Pass The Mic: Website + Twitter  • The Witness: Website + Twitter

2 thoughts on “De-Centering Whiteness in our Conversations (PTM 221)

  1. Thomas W.

    First I’d like to say it’s an excellent podcast, and a good explanation of what you mean by decentering whiteness.

    I can definitely see measures related to creating healthy dialogue as necessary though I would caution against isolating people by color. It isn’t “whiteness” that is the root of poor discourse. And poor discourse is common to man.
    I can fully understand the need to balance the conversation, but I would caution against basing who must listen/watch on a color. As Ally mentioned being uncomfortable with that anyway, I would argue it’s because if the shoe is on the other foot, we’d all have a major problem with it.

    As I mentioned above regarding “white fragility” and it’s lack of persuasion as a term, I’m going to go a step or two farther.

    Brace yourself.

    It’s racist.


    Because emotional fragility is common to human beings, but the term is coined to isolate and shut down white people. Especially

    It’s also ironically hypocritical to devise a test that with any challenge to that test charges guilt (last question) . In other words, challenging white fragility, even personally, makes one fragile.

    However, an inability to be questioned is entirely one aspect of emotional fragility. The test entirely exemplifies its own fragility. Despite that I find it highly unhealthy to suggest coining a term like “black fragility” either.

    If you want the bridge building to be easier, I would recommend giving up trying to prove who is fragile or racist. It’s as unhealthy as the centered whiteness. Great for visibility, poor in shifting the needle to reconciliation or for healthy dialogue even.

    If you want dialogue to be better, then pinning divisive tweets to one’s Twitter isn’t leading by example.

    If you’re weary and “fragile” from building, realize many are they who are frustrated too. Listening goes both ways. Validation and value goes both ways.

  2. Thomas W.

    “Ally Henny: The conversation can’t go forward if you’re constantly having people whose feelings are hurt, or who are constantly lashing out and being harmful and questioning every little thing.”

    Not sure what exactly this is in reference to yet, and my comment is more to the topic itself, but I’ll just say again: Using the term “white fragility” is not persuasive and is going to be demeaning to white people who you may be trying to have quality conversations with. The use of this term should be rejected, even if it’s true of some white people. There are people on all sides who do not handle difficult conversations with high EQ. I would recommend moving on from such conversations where this apparent, rather than labeling their stereotype.

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