White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.
June 26th, 2018
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Even my reading has been a learning process as I have worked to incorporate reading more about systemic racism. In May I read So You Want to Talk About Race. This book was so eye-opening and her writing is direct and to the point while also being approachable. So You Want to Talk About Race started off my deeper dive into racial divides and understanding in our country, and it was a great place to start.
I had heard a lot about White Fragility and thought that might be a good choice for my next audiobook. I really did get a lot out of it, but I also see the problematic idea that it is a book about racism, written by a white woman. She is a white woman, who considers herself, an “expert” on anti-bias and anti-racism training. She has studied and intellectualized oppression but she has not lived it. While it is wonderful that books about race have topped the NY Times bestsellers charts for months now…her book has continued to take the top spot.
For me, I connected a lot with her perspective, especially her chapter on white privilege and I also recognize that it is important to support Black writers and perspectives. This isn’t an idea that hasn’t been presented before (especially by writers of color) but are we just more willing to listen to it from her because she is white too? I can see how this is a slippery slope…
It is white people’s responsibility to be less fragile; people of color don’t need to twist themselves into knots trying to navigate us as painlessly as possible.
While I agree that white people are responsible for doing their own education on racism, I also see the point that her book misses a lot of the contextual information that could help us better explore why we still live in a racist society and there are many books, written by Black voices and people of color that share this through lived experiences and more. While it is important to understand white privilege, it is also important to understand the history that has not only got us here but also kept us here.
All in all, this book was helpful to me in certain aspects, and I also appreciate the perspectives I have heard since finishing it…especially Louisa “Weeze” Doran’s deep dive into this topic which you can see HERE. Has this been on your reading radar? I would love to hear your thoughts.
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