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According to this author, those that are identified as white (not necessarily those who identify AS white) are guilty of racism and must be prepared to be tongue-lashed by her. It is curious that somehow denigrating a person by their skin color is not racist when done by a person of the same appearance. It is a popular book for those that need more of a reason to feel bad about themselves.
Ironically, the subject is timely and through reading other sources of information on institutionalized racism, I have noticed many examples of this. The articles were well written and effective in that I was not made to feel that anything I did or said was automatically suspect and therefore invalid. A state of paralysis is not one from which change can occur.
I truly felt empowered after reading this magnificent book! It makes you see the world differently. Now, at every turn, I see oppression - whites enacting their privilege, people not checking each others' pronouns, sex-segregated washrooms, little girls wearing pink - and I tell everyone I know that our relationship is contingent on reading this book.
If they don't read and support this book, I will report them for hateful conduct and notify the Human Resources Department of their employer to ensure that they never work again.
Truly a wonderful and inspiring read!
I was very open-minded when I decided to read this book--better getting the book from the library and glad I did because it is not worth the money to buy it. Repetitive and very hard to read. Author doesn't make a good argument about racism and now it is very easy to call everything racist that it has lost its meaning.
👤"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."
As Voltaire said, "This animal is very vicious. When attacked, it defends itself."
A month or two ago, I received a newsletter from my high school alumni association that had a personal column from the president of the association. She told how she was planning to go to my high school with the white kids in her neighborhood and was disappointed to find that she was assigned to a different, nearly all-Black high school. Her mother was a housekeeper for a family solidly in the assigned neighborhood for the school I attended, so she persuaded the family to allow her to use that address as her own. She was then assigned to my high school. This was in 1953, and I am sure there is nobody who misunderstands what this was all about. But the effect it had on me was to wonder who this association president was, because I knew there were very few Black students in my graduating class. My old yearbook showed that roughly 10% of my class was Black, so how could I have not known that? There was only one Black student in any of my classes and I knew he had a sister in the school and I was aware of one other Black student with whom I sometimes rode a bus to afterschool activities. Again, this is a situation that very few will fail to understand. All of this primed me for reading White Fragility.
White fragility is not about weakness, it is largely a method of deflection from even suggestions of racism. The author is careful in her definition of racism and of its attributes and her discussion of race spends time on the origins of racial identity and on the way social ideals have been generated. On page 113 she offers that white fragility “…may be conceptualized as the sociology of dominance; an outcome of white people’s socialization into white supremacy and a means to protect, maintain, and reproduce white supremacy.”
One question she asks nagged at me; when is the first time I saw a Black person? As a rather introverted person, it is sometimes hard for me recognize that other people come into my orbit, so I could not answer. When I tell you that I know when my younger brother first did so, you will understand another reason for my inability to remember. His first exposure was as a two-year-old to the then first-run movie Song of the South. Returning to my high school experience mentioned above, I am reasonably sure that high school is the first time in my education that there were any Black students in any school I attended.
White Fragility is written for a white audience and it certainly hit its mark in me. The author’s analysis of the reaction of a mother in the grocery store whose child points to a Black man helped me understand her thesis and I could think of several ways to use that in fighting racism. This book was valuable to me and helped me to better understand the underlying structure of racism. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
P.S. October 31 – after posting my comment, I read through numerous other comments about this book. Some of the negative comments were probably from people to whom they believe the author’s theory does not apply, because they “are not racist.” But one comment stated that one should read books by POC (the commenter’s term) and that reading this book by a white author is supporting white supremacy. I read Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison years ago, Manning Marable and Ta-Nehisi Coates more recently, and I don’t know how many in between. They gave me photographs of myself, each through his own filter. In those writings, I could see myself from the outside. But in WF, the writer got inside my own head. It was like viewing myself in a mirror.
Each of us is searching and we find different paths to understanding and change. I have been involved in activist groups that ultimately accomplished very little because of the need to be “pure.” Read any magazine on the Left to see how we love to fight among ourselves about movement orthodoxy. In the words of Rodney King, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?”
I would recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about racism in America. In response to critiques saying "why not read a book written by a POC instead", I would suggest that you do both. Having read numerous books by POC, I can say that this one brings a unique perspective to the discussion and is valuable in addition to the others.
Why not read a book written by a Black author?
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo OR
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Supporting Robin DiAngelo's work over that of POC is a vote for white supremacy.
This book just reveals that the author is racist and wants to convince people that all white are inherently racist even if they say they are not. Makes no sense, no studies support her statements. It is mostly an anecdotal that she wants to generalize. Not worth reading at all. I had checked it out to understand the reason behind "white fragility", but it just confirmed that it is a made up term with not evidence, yet it is being taught to people as the truth.
To quote the author, "When I say that only whites can be racist, I mean that in the United States, only whites have the collective social and institutional power and privilege over people of color. People of color do not have this power and privilege over white people." In a further quote, the author states that "people of color may also hold prejudices and discriminate against white people, but they lack the social and institutional power that transforms their prejudice and discrimination into racism."
My take away from this book was that, in the author's view, all whites are inherently racist, the good whites (progressives) can at least work to understand their racism and work to be better people and no person of color is capable of being racist, even the most vile of Anti-Semites (e.g. Louis Farrakhan). In my view, her entire book is a load of crap.
I had to struggle to read this after seeing her early statement to the effect that "race and gender are social constructs, rather than biologic facts. Knowing that her arguments come from such a scientifically flawed perspective it's difficult to give her much credence. That said, she does make the point that whites cannot possibly have a visceral understanding of what blacks experience in our society. She could have covered that in about one or two pages.
If you have not thought about race and Racism, then this book will be helpful but if you have already been thinking, reading and discussing race and Racism it is not a must read but it was still valuable to me to read. I did find questions about when did I become aware of Race and how I identified; did have POC classmates; did I have POC teachers - thought provoking. I remember seeing a film on sharing water fountains with POC when I was in kindergarten or first grade; thought of POC classmates from elementary school, busing in my sophomore year of high school; and my sole POC teacher, Mr. Hurt, who really challenged us to meet the kids that were being bused in. For these reflections, the book made it a worthwhile read.
Through her workshops and now this book, Robin DiAngelo offers an important talking point in the larger movement of antiracism and how White people can work toward talking about it.
While many of her points can be boiled down to the unsurprising fact that people will get offended if you call out their racism, she frames it from the belief that we need to move past the idea that "being racist" makes you a "bad person" and our knee-jerk reaction to take offence and defend out moral superiority. This is, understandably, a difficult position to take considering the history of racist power and the harm it's caused. Nevertheless, it is a belief that fits well into the larger narrative that acknowledges that a person can be both racist and antiracist.
Once we've moved past both of these moral and defensive roadblocks, she argues, we can finally join the discussion of racism, acknowledge our racist beliefs, and move toward the goal of becoming more antiracist--both as individuals and as a society.
Not surprisingly, critics of this book exhibit white fragility in their comments.
Quite simply out, what if our society is as racist, and white supremacist as people of colour say it is? It takes very little mental muscle to say “ but it isn’t!”
But what if it is...? This is the starting point for this book. We, as white people, are born into a world view and system that has its roots in violence against people of colour. This is not up for debate. The evidence is clear. What we are called to is shed our veil of lies and denial, and begin the work of listening and learning.
It is only after we wake up are we aware that we were sleeping.
the author was teaching workshops about white racism and they didn't go over well. Any teacher worth her salt would reassess her presentation and consider a more effective way of attaining her goal. Instead, Robin DiAngelo, Phd --Didi as I think of her--decided the fault must be in her students and evolved her theory of "white fragility."
Imagine! Her audience didn't react well to being called racists! Fancy that! If DiDi knew anything about history she would realize that this represents real progress. At the beginning of the 20th century the intellectual and political elites on both sides of the Atlantic had no doubt that whites from Northern Europe were the superior race, and professors at leading universities in this country wrote books about how hordes from southern and Eastern Europe (those Italians and Jews!) were mongrelizing our country. Even in the 1950s many whites would probably have snickered if you called them racists. Now everyone knows racism is morally offensive. As for her theory itself and her recommendations for how whites should conduct themselves I can only repeat the immortal words of George Orwell"Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them."
This book points out how whites have certain have certain biases towards race all while pretending to be colorblind .It explains biases that some people don't realize exist. Its shows how to dismantle racists systems that are in place. Very informative. Feel it was a very good read
This racist screed peddles toxic white guilt. It is making its author fabulously wealthy (adding enormously to her own "white privilege"). But It has been accurately described as the dumbest book ever written. So, definitely do not buy it, you'll only be helping scam artist Robin DiAngelo get even richer. If you are curious and/or feeling masochistic, borrow a copy from the library.
For more insight read this article:
And here's a video review:
WATCH: "7 Reasons Why "White Fragility" is the Worst Book Ever"
An eye-opening MUST read. I learned a lot from this book about society in the United States that suddenly makes sense. I can see now where even I might be part of the problem, though I certainly don't mean to be.
Actually just The Courage to Heal with "childhood sexual molestation" changed to "racism," and the perpetrator and the victim switched. This book is one long circular argument: if you are white, you are racist because you are white in a "white supremacist" society. Society is racist and white supremacist because white people are racist and perpetuate racism no matter what they do because they are racist. Even if you think you're not racist and feel upset at being caricatured in this manner, your "white tears" (exactly the same tears cried by white women in the past while accusing innocent black men for rape!) is proof of your racism, because you cannot be white in a white supremacist society without being racist. Etc., etc., etc.
I found a quote mine in the introduction attributed to Charles Baudelaire (I am a historian of radical French poets), and a number of historical inaccuracies in DiAngelo's book. The rest she apparently just makes up without any cited evidence. This book lacks any falsifiability, making it no better than any creationist text. It lack rigor, and actually is condescending and racist toward people of color! It manages to insult everyone, and especially one's intelligence. (Don't seek out affirmation from other white people, and don't seek to ask the experiences of people of color - it's not their job to educate you! Stay in your white bubble and shell out more money to take DiAngelo's seminars so you can contemplate your white navel. Don't look for solutions - that's white fragility, too!)
This book is toxic, defeatist and narcissistic, apparently popular among well-off white women who have NEVER lived in a diverse neighborhood, taken public transit, worked with people in color in low-paying jobs, or visited a developing country! It's so myopic, it suggests Black History Month should focus more on white people and their hand-wringing about their "whiteness." (Hoo boy, doesn't that sound like FUN?) DiAngelo has apparently made millions off this book. What a pity that more people cannot see this is just "Satanic panic" applied to racial relations.
KHoulihan below asserts that DiAngelo 'repackages' the concept of white fragility as if it were her own original concept. DiAngelo does not operate as if the concept of white fragility were her own original concept.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.