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White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism (2018)

by Robin DiAngelo

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,0431243,755 (3.92)60
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.… (more)
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» See also 60 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
I recommend this book because it offers a new understanding of the society we live in, race, racism and how the problem white people have with talking about racism actually perpetuates and helps keep racism alive. Especially recommended for whites who believe they are not racist. Or non-whites seeking to understand white thinking on racism. A bit repetitive and not "fun" to read due to some poor writing/organization but still very worth reading. I hope the ideas presented here are further studied and reported on. ( )
  jemmatcf | Jul 26, 2022 |
Because I already had an in-depth understanding of racism and white fragility prior to reading this book; I did not find it as revolutionary as the world seemed to at the time. It did not at all live up to it's hype, in my opinion; it was dry, repetitive, and frankly, I did not learn anything new from it. Just not my cup of tea. ( )
  jlpoulin | Jun 15, 2022 |
Does a great job addressed a tough topic. Understanding the background of racism and how deep it is engrained in our culture is beneficial for people of any race to learn. As a white person, learning about our white fragility and why we become so defensive or confrontationial about race is eye opening and will hopefully help me become more aware of my bias in life. The more we can become aware, the better opportunity to recognize and break harmful patterns that have been existent in American infrastructure since the beginning ( )
  Crystal199 | May 20, 2022 |
‘White Fragility’ is a fascinating and thought provoking analysis of structural racism in western societies and, in particular, why it is so hard for while people to recognise and discuss it. Whilst it focuses on the American experiment it still rang very true for me as a white British reader.
Like many non-fiction books that are structured around a central concept it can be a bit repetitive, and is longer than it needed to be. I’d still recommend it unreservedly to any white readers who want to explore their own unconscious racism and start to address it. ( )
  whatmeworry | Apr 9, 2022 |
For a book whose entire theme is the response of white people to being called racist, it does an amazing job of ignoring entirely the consequences that even a mere accusation of racism, much less admitting (with gratitude?!) to racism will have on a white person.

People in general are unwilling to admit they are wrong or that they are bad; this is the source of near-endless bullet lists DiAngelo plagues us with in an apparent attempt to fill the page count. White people in truth are wary of admitting to even a momentary, fleeting racist thought in large part because they are terrified of what happens to them if they acknowledge it, consequences which are very real and which woke liberal thinkers are more and more trying to make only capable of being applied to white people (even though whiteness and therefore white people somehow don't exist).

The idea that white tears are unwelcome because they are somehow a calculated move to bring attention back to white women is incredibly dehumanizing; even calling them white tears is dehumanizing in the same way that saying there's "black sweat" on a shirt or calling what a surgery patient gets on your scrubs "black blood" is dehumanizing.

Whiteness must be real in some sense. We can't go on pretending it is "entirely made up and you're really Italian/Irish" while also somehow magically knowing who is and isn't white. Race is tied at least in part to biology, and that is the fundamental basis for all of this identifying who is and isn't problematic and who can speak for whom. The existence of a good/bad binary is the necessary logical result of insisting -- as she thinks she is creatively doing -- that a spectrum exists instead, along which you can choose to be more or less racist or white; what might astound her is that spectra have two ends, and by necessity those poles, since she's cautioning us to head only in one direction on it and not the other, is good and bad. Surprise!

And to occupy a bubble protected from any consequences of admitting "yes I am incurably racist" would have, while telling us that racial prejudice inevitably and permanently clouds our vision as white people, while also telling us she has managed to overcome that as a white woman herself and that she alone has the objective view we should all adopt, is the unimpressive feat of projection and bulverism that DiAngelo manages to achieve here.

1 star only because 0 is not an option. ( )
1 vote chuff | Feb 28, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
CHOTINER: So you consider yourself a racist right now?

DiANGELO: Yes. I will always have a racist worldview and biases. The way I look at it is I’m really clear that I do less harm than I used to. I perpetrate that racism less often. I’m not defensive at all when I realize—whether myself or it’s been brought to my attention—that I’ve just perpetrated a piece of it. I have really good repair skills. None of those are small things because they mean I do less harm.
added by elenchus | editSlate.com, Isaac Chotiner (Aug 2, 2018)
 

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robin DiAngeloprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dyson, Michael EricForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landon, AmyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roe, LouisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tatusian, AlexDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
These ceremonials in honor of white supremacy, performed from babyhood, slip from the conscious mind down deep into muscles . . . and become difficult to tear out. - Lillian Smith, Killers of the Dream (1949)
Dedication
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I am a white American raised in the United States. I have a white frame of reference and a white worldview, and I move through the world with a white experience. My experience is not a universal human experience.
[Foreword] One metaphor for race, and racism, won't do.
[Author's Note] The United States was founded on the principle that all people are created equal.
I am a white woman.
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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.

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