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.
Download readers guides at www.beacon.org/whitefragility.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Robin DiAngelo’s treatise about confronting systemic racism may be an uncomfortable read for most white people—and that’s the point. DiAngelo, an antiracism educator, was motivated to write her book after noticing that many white participants in her trainings were unable or unwilling to talk about racism. She argues that this resistance is a large part of what keeps oppressive systems in place, and lays out specific examples of the privileges white folks enjoy to the detriment of others. This book is a necessary listen for anyone interested in combatting racism.
Customer ReviewsSee All
The good, the bad, and the ugly
The good: I bought and read this book seeking to understand how someone could possibly think the free and amazing country that we live in is racist so that I could be educated about another’s point of view. The author is clearly intelligent, informed, and experienced about this and is very eloquent and probably accurate in pointing out many of the ways that the culture we live in has racial bias, prejudice, and makes things more difficult for people of color, sometimes pretty radically. She presents insight into something that many people do not understand well and should be making it a priority to listen and understand. Wake up and go check your privilege. If this is your goal, you will get it from this book and you should read it because most of what is in this book is helpful to that end.
The bad: The explanation that racism is implicit, unconscious, ingrained, and thus inescapable in our society robs white people of their ability to do anything about it. One can’t say anything, and one cannot say nothing because both are perceived as revealing and/or continuing the problem. The many anecdotes in the book present almost every response a person could reasonably be expected to have, and all are revealed to be perceived as racist in some way. I agree that to a certain extent one should be aware of the impact an action or inaction could have on others, but the book places so much value in the impact over intent argument that it renders any objective standard of behavior moot. If this is the guide, nobody could do anything for fear it would offend someone else. Bottom line: if you have white skin in our culture, you are the problem. Period. No escaping it.
The ugly: The only conclusions that one could come to here are just abjectly sad and I think, pretty unreasonable and in my opinion out of touch. If white people can’t do anything and can’t do nothing, what do they do about this? The author presents at the end of the book a conclusion that has a twinge of religious overtones: one should examine all the ways in which they are bad and terrible, reflect on them, ask to be forgiven, and try to identify as “less white” in a continual loop. And since there is no objective standard, there will probably never be any absolution or hope for harmony because the standard is subjective to how some, namely a person of color, will perceive your actions or inactions...Either that, or we tear down the whole system and start from scratch. I don’t think anybody wants this and I don’t think it’s helpful.
MANDATORY READING FOR...
...Black People! This book gives all people of color but especially Black People an insight into how the social constructs of white America works. It gave me language and a framework to operate in so that when the time comes to challenge (which is everyday) white fragility I am prepared. This book has collected my insanity on racism and put it in context. I apologize openly to other Black Authors on this subject when I suspected the system couldn’t possible have all these racist redundancies BUT they do! I feel armed with insight, prepared to lose a couple of my white and black friends but excited about filling those losses...
Well written and thought provoking.