Strategies for Dismantling Racial Fragility within Public Institutions

Public Panel: "Strategies for Dismantling Racial Fragility within Public Institutions"


This event took place on Monday January 27th, 2020



  • Ajay Parasram - Assistant Professor in the Departments of International Development Studies and History at Dalhousie University and MacEachen Institute Founding Fellow
  • Alex Khasnabish - Associate Professor, Sociology & Anthropology, Mount Saint Vincent University
  • Cristina Rojas - Professor in the Department of Political Science and Director of the Institute of Political Economy at Carleton University
  • Gaynor Watson-Creed - Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Health and Assistant Dean of Medicine for ‘Serving and Engaging Society’
  • Rachel Zellars - Assistant Professor, Department of Social Justice and Community Studies, Saint Mary's University

Conversations about structural and institutional racism have become more sophisticated in the last decade, however, efforts to dismantle structural racism are all too often stymied due to what the educator and scholar Robin DiAngelo has named “white fragility,” or the inability of people understood to be “white” to understand themselves in racial terms. When faced with the reality of racial hierarchies within institutions, racially fragile individuals tend to react defensively, dismissively, and to re-orient the conversation around feelings of equality and meritocracy that often have little to no basis in reality. How do we combat racial fragility? This panel seeks to bring together people working in public institutions in an effort to move beyond attempting to “prove” that structural racism is a thing (it is…) and engage in the more challenging work of dismantling racial hierarchies within institutions.