Politics & Race
White People Are Fragile

By Michael Harriot

This title is not clickbait.

Yesterday, Abigail Fisher lost her Supreme Court case that sought to overturn affirmative action at the University of Texas. Even though Fisher’s grades were lower than almost every student who applied, there are people who still thought she could get in, because her parents attended, and because she believed she had the most valuable qualifying  commodity in all of America:


There are two misconceptions about the Abigail Fisher case that most people get wrong.

The first is that Abigail was an average student who thought she was denied entry because they chose lesser-qualified candidates of color. That is incorrect. Abby was not an average student. She was a below average student for UT applicants. In fact, of over 10,000 people accepted to the University that year, only 42 had worse grades and test scores than Abigail. Only 5 of those people were people of color.

The second thing people got wrong was that Abby felt slighted and decided to sue. Again, this is incorrect. Fisher’s case came before the Supreme Court because Edward Blum, and a host of other people sought her out to represent the widespread belief by conservatives that affirmative action allows unqualified people to leap over white people in the qualifying process. They are not just resistant to affirmative action, they are afraid of it. Their hate for it and fear of it stems from one fact:

White people are fragile.

I’m not talking about the “I-need-to-put-some-SPF29-on-my-skin-because-the-sun-might-hurt-me” kind of fragile. I’m talking about the mouth agape, disbelief they feel when White privilege is not rubber-stamped at the threshold of every door in America. I’m referring to how they clutch their pearls when someone calls them racist. It is the insult they feel when a below-average, dumb-for-a-Texas-student, seventh-place finisher, strawberry Blonde, Wal-Mart flip-flop-wearer isn’t invited to stand on the winners podium. They are appalled. Well, they never. They can’t even.

Because White people are fragile.

*Editor’s note: This part of the essay was a paragraph about how much Michael Harriot likes White people. He began by retelling a story about a guy who had no idea who he was, but knew he was a writer so the guy asked if he had ever heard of a Black writer named Michael Harriot, and that he really liked Michael Harriot’s stuff, even though he could tell Michael Harriot doesn’t like White people. Michael went on to talk about how many White friends he has, and how he makes White friends as easily as he makes Black ones. How being uncompromisingly Black is not incompatible with liking White people.  

We deleted this paragraph.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a piece about grits that went viral. The comment section was filled with debates about the origin of grits, and arguments about whether salt or sugar belong on them. The only other strain of comments were white people who were upset about one sentence that simply said they were not included on the conversation. After years of writing for places whose readerships were predominately White, I’ve learned there are three things a writer cannot joke about:

  1. President Obama
  2. The Holocaust
  3. White people

When I began NegusWhoRead I wanted this to become a place where writers could be free. I know I am unnecessarily bold, harsh and unfiltered at times, and that’s what I wanted this site to become. The great poet Georgia M.E. once said I was a “serial caller-outter.” I have called out everyone from Presidential candidates to celebrities to regular people. I’ve used my friends’ real names in posts. I’ve said a million negatively stereotypical things about Black people. I’ve made up shit about Hoteps. I’ve made jokes about beloved sororities. I’ve disparaged preachers. I’ve shitted on religion.

Of all the things I’ve said about all the people I’ve talked about, the only people who have ever called me to complain were White people. It doesn’t even bother me any more, I am so used to it. They have a need to know why I wrote that thing. They want to know if I am talking about them. I am always astounded that they feel as if they have a right to know. Like the white strangers who walk up to me and ask what my t-shirt means. My greatest hope for all the Black children in the world is that they will one day have the privilege and self esteem to feel as if the world owes them an explanation about some shit that has nothing to do with them. Only then will we truly be free.

White fragility is not necessarily their faults. Privilege affords them to live in a world that rarely criticizes, confronts or calls them out. It has made them too sensitive. They are akin to a boy whose parents spoke to him in loving, hushed tones, and then watching his face during his first day of football practice when the coach yells at him like a drill sergeant. They can’t handle it.

I firmly believe the reason we haven’t gotten past white supremacy in America is because white people curl up like roly-polys when they are confronted about racism. When I try to explain to them that something they did is racist even though I don’t think they hate black people, it is useless because they’ve already figuratively stuffed their fingers in their ears to stop the bone-breaking criticism. They believe if they aren’t doing the evil villain laugh while making plans to wipe Black people off the planet–then it’s not racist. To suggest otherwise hurts their feelings, and pierces their souls.

Because… Fragile.

Fragile like the caucasian Social Justice Warriors so eager to jump on the “Not racist” train that they produce a constant stream of insignificant complaints that become a white noise that drowns out the clamor of Black people with “real” problems. You don’t tend to care about the staff of “Orange Is The New Black” when your son is a moving target.

Fragile like white girls butthurt about the term “Becky With The Good Hair” and the people so offended by a goddamned Super Bowl Halftime show they boycott Beyonce.

Fragile like the the people who fear affirmative action, a Black “Annie” musical and interracial families in Cheerios commercial are leading a “White Genocide.”

Fragile like the white people whose pussies cinch up when a Black person jokes about anything White, so they retort with “If a white person had said that about a Black person then…”

The answer is: If  my people were privy to running every Fortune 500 company, every major news outlet, 99.9% of all banks, the education system, 92% of the House of Representatives, 99% of the Senate, every Supreme Court Justice ever except Clarence Thomas and Thurgood Marshall, every President in the history of America until 7 years ago… Then I wouldn’t give a fuck about Beyonce songs,  cereal commercial marriages or jokes about Caucasians who can’t dance.

Unless I was fragile.

Like White people.

There are some who will say this article is racist.

It is.

It is as racist as all the articles that speak of “inner city education” and “urban violence” as code for “those-dumb-niggers-can’t-teach-themselves-or-control-themselves.” It is as racist as people who think “diversity” is a code word for “dumb” so allowing students entry through affirmative action means they are saving space for “lesser” students. It’s as racist as anyone who’s panties get bunched up because a website or TV network says they are “for Black People.” It is as racist as the liberal class of ballet-shoed, pasty white proselytizing “allies,” out there arguing insignificant bullshit on the behalf of a people obviously too dumb to fight for ourselves. Stop “helping” us.

We are not that fragile. We don’t break easily.

Or… at all.


About the author

Michael Harriot is a renowned spoken word poet, the host of The Black One podcast and the editor-in-chief of NegusWhoRead. He is perpetually just getting warmed up because he has no chill. He is on Instagram and twitter as @michaelharriot

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