Prof claims election resulted in 'widespread' 'white fragility'

Toni Airaksinen

  • A University of Iowa professor recently published an article claiming that "white neurosis and white fragility are widespread phenomena," especially since the 2016 election.
  • Although she herself grew up in poverty, Professor Leslie Ann Locke refuses to give in to a "competition for marginality," but instead challenges "white norms and values" in her academic work.
  • 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.”   

    [RELATED: Prof calls diversity of thought ‘white supremacist bullshit’]

    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.”

    [RELATED: Prof claims American patriotism is ‘drenched in whiteness’]

    Locke, who herself group up in poverty, concedes that her “social class complicates, but never extinguishes, [her] whiteness.” Instead, Locke claims to use her privilege to push-back against “white norms and values” in academia and her community.

    “Whites must work to make sense of their unearned advantages,” she concludes. “We cannot expect that folks from marginalized groups should solve the problems for us.

    Campus Reform reached out to Locke for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen is a New Jersey-based Campus Reform contributor, and previously served as a Senior Campus Correspondent. Her reporting focuses on campus First Amendment, Title IX, Equal Opportunity, and due process issues, and her stories have been profiled by numerous outlets including Fox News, The New York Post, PBS News, and The Washington Examiner.
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