Book Review: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

12 October 2020


 Hello Readers and Friends,


You may remember when the most recent BLM movement occurred, I said I was going to try and read an educational non-fiction read every month to educate myself. I've largely stuck to this, but not been posting about it very much.  I've read The Clapback, Why I'm No Longer Speaking to White People about Race, and have White Supremacy next - but I wanted to talk about White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, because I gave it 5/5 stars and can not recommend it enough.



You need to read this book.
Everyone needs to read this book. Anyone who is white, or (like myself) white-passing, needs to read this book. It's author, Robin DiAngelo is a white diversity training lecturer, and she writes so clearly that almost every single line in the book is quotable and filled with eye-opening strength. She asks all the important questions we need to consider, she explains very clearly how to approach topics of race, she makes it so astoundingly clear how big a problem microagressions are, why we are all guilty, and what we need to do to help end it. I am 100% guilty of many of the things she discusses in the book, and I accept them with shame and guilt and am working to move forwards from it and better myself so that I can be a strong ally against racism. Denying prejudice in ourselves does not do anything to better the BLM movement - we have to look at ourselves critically and admit our mistakes, whether it's laughing at a joke, believing a stereotype, or anything else 'micro'.



I honestly can't rave about this book enough. It's so small (circa 250 pages), I can't see any reason for anybody to not read it. YOU HAVE TO READ IT!


Here are some lines from the book, because they will likely illustrate how great it is much better than my all-over-the-place review:


“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.”


“I was co-leading a workshop with an African American man. A white participant said to him, "I don't see race; I don't see you as black." My co-trainer's response was, "Then how will you see racism?" He then explained to her that he was black, he was confident that she could see this, and that his race meant that he had a very different experience in life than she did. If she were ever going to understand or challenge racism, she would need to acknowledge this difference. Pretending that she did not noticed that he was black was not helpful to him in any way, as it denied his reality - indeed, it refused his reality - and kept hers insular and unchallenged. This pretense that she did not notice his race assumed that he was "just like her," and in so doing, she projected her reality onto him. For example, I feel welcome at work so you must too; I have never felt that my race mattered, so you must feel that yours doesn't either. But of course, we do see the race of other people, and race holds deep social meaning for us.”


“If, however, I understand racism as a system into which I was socialized, I can receive feedback on my problematic racial patterns as a helpful way to support my learning and growth. One of the greatest social fears for a white person is being told that something that we have said or done is racially problematic. Yet when someone lets us know that we have just done such a thing, rather than respond with gratitude and relief (after all, now that we are informed, we won’t do it again), we often respond with anger and denial.”


Love, 

C x


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