White Fragility

White Fragility

Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

Book - 2018
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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.

In this "vital, necessary, and beautiful book" (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and "allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to 'bad people' (Claudia Rankine). 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, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.
Publisher: Boston : Beacon Press, [2018]
ISBN: 9780807047415
Branch Call Number: 305.8 D542W 2018
Characteristics: xvii, 169 pages ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality. (Publisher)

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Jul 11, 2020

Already giving terminology and context around truths we have understood our whole lives.

Jul 11, 2020

Initially, upon reading this book, I found it riveting and insightful... and then I learned that it was written by a white woman, and that the concepts described within were Race Theory 101 from Sociology.... both of which are inherently problematic. Weeze Doran (@accordingtoweeze on Insta) has a great summary of the issues with a white sociologist repackaging the work of black sociologists and the concept of white fragility as if they were her own idea and innovation, and also that because DiAngelo is white, that she cannot effectively be an anti-racist educator, without missing and overlooking the massive blindspots of all who are white. Consider picking up a book by an actual Black anti-racist educator, like How to Be Less Stupid About Race by Crystal Fleming instead.

Jul 11, 2020

jwtaylor commented earlier:
"This is the worst book I have ever read.

It starts with a premise that all whites are racist, only whites can be racist, all institutions are racist, there's a worldwide conspiracy by whites to dominate and oppress all others and if you object that you're not racist, it just proves that you are.

The author uses circular logic, statements that don't match facts, over generalizations and stereotyping to make her case. She converts objective reality into a subjective
viewpoint that is presented as fact, rather than her opinion. The author is completely certain of her viewpoint and never thinks that there may be other legitimate viewpoints or options. Most damaging, she believes the only way African Americans can succeed is if White people allow it.

Despite this, the book is worth reading because it illustrates a radical mindset that is unhelpful and worsens the situation for black Americans by depriving them of their intelligence, dignity and self-worth."

This commenter missed the point of the book and provides a great example for the reason why this book and others like it are important and necessary.

Another commenter below references a guy named Matt Taibbi and that guy's review of the book. Taibbi's own fans describe in his site's comments how he is demonstrating the precise blindness and unwillingness for self-critique that this book is calling out: White Fragility.

This book doesn't say that (all of) you are going out of your way to be racist. Among other things, it says that if you are white, you are inheriting the benefits of a system that is pervasively and inescapably racist, and that to not oppose and act to dismantle this system is to effectively be okay with the persistence of racism.

Jul 06, 2020


VaughanPLDavidB Jul 05, 2020

If you want an alternate view on this book, read Matt Taibbi's review, https://taibbi.substack.com/p/on-white-fragility. It is, to put it mildly, scathing.

Jul 05, 2020

As a white guy, it was a humbling read, but feels pivotal in helping me chart a course through (and maybe out of?) the white racism that I and white folks have grown up not recognizing, and thereby perpetuating. It's the first step on the difficult road we've been avoiding, and allllll of our white ancestors have been avoiding, for 243 years.

Jun 27, 2020

This book should be used as a primer for white progressives who believe they are non-racist. (Not “progressive” as in votes blue; I am referring to any white person who believes they are too nice/Christian/educated/urban to be racist). The author explains that racism is not an event (Trump rallies, tiki torches, police brutality, etc). Racism is the society we’ve been swimming in for hundreds of years, and white people are the water.

White readers should stretch beyond this book to actively decolonize their minds and bookshelves. “White Rage” by Carol Anderson seems like a strong companion to this book, and is written by a Black woman scholar. Then visit Toni Morrison, bell hooks, the Combahee River Collective, Zora Neale Hurston, Kiese Laymon, Claudia Rankine, Angela Davis, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Isabel Wilkerson, Jacqueline Woodson and stay awhile.

PS This book is sold out everywhere. Buy a book or three from Black authors. Regularly.

Jun 25, 2020

This book cut me to my core. It named a lot of assumptions I just accepted without question being a white person. It helped me unpack a lot of my white socialization and give words to feelings and emotions I didn't understand. The whole point of my reading this book was to learn more about how I am perpetrating white racism without knowing it. This is only the beginning. She makes excellent suggestions at the end of the book for how to continue this work. It was hard to read at times because I saw myself in the book. I absolutely recommend this book.

Jun 25, 2020

It’s brief and breezy and sometimes persuasive. Two cautions: The book defines racism in a way that makes all white people part of it, but then spends too much time talking about people who didn't like being defined that way. (It's almost like the author wanted to maximize drama about this.)
Her constant efforts to point out, in passing, her own progressive credentials establish that this is the choir she has chosen to preach to, but add nothing to the argument. In fact, she doesn’t so much present an argument but rather a catechism.
Several sloppy factual errors in summarizing news events undermine the authoritative tone.

Jun 24, 2020

I would recommend this book to any white reader who is looking for a place to start when reading about systemic racism. This book was written, in large part, for people who think they aren't racist at all because they don't say overtly racist things, but DiAngelo focuses on how all white people have benefited from a society that puts more value on their lives and experiences. It reinforced ideas I had already thought about, but introduced tons of others that I had never considered and also gives examples of specific issues or conversations that you might have had, or have heard, and explains in detail why they are problematic. Be open and honest with yourself, and be ready to put in the work to make real change. Start here.

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JCLChrisK Nov 06, 2019

This book is intended for us, for white progressives who so often—despite our conscious intentions—make life so difficult for people of color. I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color. I define a white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the “choir,” or already “gets it.” White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual antiracist practice. White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so.


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