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White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

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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, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

7 pages, Audiobook

First published June 26, 2018

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About the author

Robin DiAngelo

24 books1,173 followers
Robin J. DiAngelo is an American academic, lecturer, and author working in the fields of critical discourse analysis and whiteness studies. She formerly served as a tenured professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University and is currently an Affiliate Associate Professor of Education at the University of Washington in Seattle. She is known for her work pertaining to white fragility, a term which she coined in 2011.

In a 2011 academic paper she first put forward the concept of white fragility, the notion that the tendency for white people to become defensive when confronted with their racial advantage functions to protect and maintain that advantage.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 18,229 reviews
98 reviews24 followers
February 6, 2019
Half a century after the Civil Rights movement, vast disparities exist between blacks and whites in America. First and foremost, these group inequalities are caused by deep, historical trauma created by white racism and racist policies aimed against black persons and black culture. If slavery and Jim Crow caused a gaping wound, Civil Rights stitched it up; but underneath the wound still festers. How does this wound – the entrenched inequities between blacks and whites in America – continue to exist?

Does the answer to that question exist? I have read and heard a variety of black thinkers try to answer it as they look through different windows upon the situation. They have examined welfare, affirmative action, the black cultural prohibition against “acting white” and being studious, the victim mentality, the war on drugs, the “prison industrial complex,” school inequality, voter suppression, police brutality, and gun violence. All of these current realities take place in a nation in which blacks overall have much less wealth than whites because of the historical legacies of racist policies that forced blacks off any road to financial success.

Any one of these situations is dizzyingly complex. Functioning together, they (and no doubt other factors) produce this vast reality that we call racial inequity. There is no way that any one person can understand it all. It is a mountain of pain, tragedy, and injustice. Overwhelmed, one seeks a way to go forth in one’s thinking, one or two foundational principles that will allow one to help ameliorate the situation, or at least not make it worse.

Enter Robin DiAngelo. White Fragility is an explanation of Robin DiAngelo’s invention of the same name, an idea that seeks to explain why it is “so difficult to have conversations about race with white people,” in hopes that examining this will get whites to the point where they can do their part to dismantle systemic racism.

Her book stinks.

Never mind that White Fragility is based entirely on anecdotal evidence (DiAngelo’s own experiences and that of her African-American acquaintances), vast & false assumptions, stunningly faulty reasoning, zero-sum/us-and-them thinking, purely ideological (almost religious) zealotry, and laughably contradictory strictures.* Never mind that DiAngelo seems to believe that guilt-ridden navel-gazing is an effective tool for change. Never mind that she speaks for all people of color, saying that racism is a personal scourge “24/7” (they don’t all believe that). Never mind that she is the white savior extraordinaire, who views all black people as victims always, and only whites as powerful agents. Never mind that she encourages whites to patronize blacks in daily interaction, humoring them with mea culpas, and never arguing as equals, never challenging. Never mind that she hopes to combat racism using racist tools – racial stereotyping and racial prejudice. Never mind that she decries bad/good dualism (racist – bad, nonracist – good) even as she all-unwittingly pushes her own bad/good dualism (fragility – bad, stamina – good). And just don’t even bother being annoyed, frustrated, or aghast at the way she scorns the human emotions of white people – she and all her white friends will only call you “fragile” and laugh that their circular reasoning was proven right.

Never mind all that. The main reason this book stinks is that it focuses the attention on the wrong problem, one that has very little evidence to support its effects. The problem that DiAngelo sees as the fount of all modern black misery is modern white racism. Careful, though – she does not use the dictionary definition of racism, which is a belief in one’s own racial superiority and hostility towards people of other colors and races – what we can also call racial animus. Racism, according to DiAngelo and her ilk, is this mysterious essence, this inner miasma, that inhabits every white person (and no one else). The everyday interactions between whites and blacks, soaked with this inherent bias, is what produces the inequities we see. Racism and whiteness are identical in her book.

So – the fatherless African American family? If we are to believe Robin DiAngelo, it’s caused by your shadow thoughts, white people. The much poorer health outcomes for blacks on average? That’s on you, O guilty one. The fact that homicide is the #1 killer of young black men? You guessed it: it’s all to do with your secret “knowledge” that your life is better the way things are. The fact that those homicide victims are being killed by other young black men? You are a racist for even bringing up that fact. Don’t worry, though: all white people are racist. Just admit it, and all problems will be solved.

I don’t know what to think about the fact that White Fragility is a bestseller with so many glowing reviews. I guess unfettered ideology is attractive. I’m very, very sorry that anyone believes what Robin DiAngelo says. People, please, I beg you: If you want to make the world a better place, study policy. Understand that it is very complex and full of unintended consequences. Examine data, question assumptions. Don’t take this stuff on faith; it’s too important. Challenge both liberal and conservative racial orthodoxy. Think past the labels – treat yourself and others as human beings and individuals. Regard yourself and all others as agents – agents of personal and political change, agents of compassion and empathy.

Please don’t waste your time on the racial prejudices and double standards of identity-zealots like Robin DiAngelo.

* Examples of contradictory strictures: White people must be vulnerable. White people must not show their feelings. White people must not become silent. White people should be silent. White people must not leave the room when they’re upset. White people must leave the room when they’re upset.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,184 followers
June 8, 2020
I began reading this book with the assumption that I'd get a better understanding of why it's so hard to talk to other white people about race. Maybe there'd be a couple things I needed to be aware of in myself, but all in all, this would be a book about other white people.

Well! Damn if I wasn't wrong! Right in the beginning, Robin DiAngelo knocked me off of my why-I'm-not-racist pedestal. She called me out in the very beginning by suggesting that I the reader was probably sitting there thinking of all the ways I am not racist. Bam, bam, BAM! Down I went.

How predictable we white people are, even when we think we're not. Even when we are certain we're not racist. Even when we think we're different from other white people. How predictable I am. In order to get anywhere with racism, we first need to be willing to look at all the ways we (each white person) uphold and perpetuate racism. My sitting there reassuring myself that I am an exception and these x, y, z are the reasons to prove I am not, all but ascertained that I was not going to learn anything, or enough, from this book. I am so grateful that Ms. DiAngelo began this way.

Did it make me uncomfortable? Hell, yeh, it did. Believe me, I was sitting there squirming, biting my lower lip, and almost wanting to just not read the book at all. However, I knew that the fact that it made me uncomfortable was the biggest reason I needed to read this book. Not so I could get insight into other white people, but to get insight into myself. To point out my flaws and uncover the ways racism manifests itself through my words and actions.

Robin DiAngelo begins by explaining exactly what racism is and why it is that most white people are so afraid of being seen as racist. Explains why we put all our energy into "proving" we're not. I found the definitions she used to be incredibly helpful:

•"Prejudice is pre-judgment."

•"Discrimination is action based on prejudice."

Racism "is a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intentions or self-images of individual actors." It develops "when a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control".

•"Aversive racism is a manifestation of racism that well-intentioned people who see themselves as educated and progressive are more likely to exhibit."

Confusing these terms and thinking that racism is only an intentional act of discrimination leads us to believe that we are exempt from racism, we are not racist, and thus ensures that we will do nothing to change. It "protects our biases, because denying that we have them ensures that we won’t examine or change them."

Every aspect of Western culture is based on white superiority. It is backed by authority and institutional control (I would say especially so in the United States). When racism and racist thought are rooted so deeply into our culture, it is "the norm rather than an aberration.

Feedback is key to our ability to recognize and repair our inevitable and often unaware collusion." We are conditioned into racism and a white supremacist worldview. Thus, rather than focusing our energy into convincing ourselves and others that we are not racist, we need to focus that energy on confronting our own racist tendencies and ideas. As Ms. DiAngelo points out, "We do have them, and people of color already know we have them; our efforts to prove otherwise are not convincing."

I think this is an incredibly important book. Though it is very basic and rudimentary and repetitive at times, this book is a crucial starting point. It demands we look honestly at ourselves. If we are against racism and truly want change, we have to first start with ourselves. I cannot change my behaviour or thoughts if I am certain I am without blame. How then can I hope to change an entire system? I need to be open to criticism without becoming defensive. Is it comfortable to do so? Nope, absolutely not. But I can deal with a bit of discomfort, especially in light of all the pain that people of colour have endured and still endure. It is imperative that I honestly examine myself; it is not going to kill me -- but racism does kill people of colour.

White fragility functions to"keep people of color from challenging racism in order to avoid white wrath. In turn, not challenging white people on racism upholds the racial order and whites’ position within that order."

I implore all white people to read this book, even if you are certain you are not racist. ESPECIALLY if you are certain you are not racist. Let's all work on changing ourselves and then perhaps much-needed change can take place in our society and in our judicial systems. It is our responsibility to be less fragile and to finally listen to people of colour and be open to examining our flaws and biases. There is so much more I could write about, including the things I discovered about myself reading this book, but instead I will finally end this lengthy review and encourage you to read the book. And after that, read books by people of color. Only by listening to those who are on the receiving end of racism can we bring about effective change.

"I have found it much more useful to think of myself as on a continuum. Racism is so deeply woven into the fabric of our society that I do not see myself escaping from that continuum in my lifetime. But I can continually seek to move further along it. I am not in a fixed position on the continuum; my position is dictated by what I am actually doing at a given time. Conceptualizing myself on an active continuum changes the question from whether I am or am not racist to a much more constructive question: Am I actively seeking to interrupt racism in this context? And perhaps even more importantly, how do I know?"
Profile Image for Lois .
1,760 reviews466 followers
September 30, 2022
Skip this book entirely and read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson.
It covers much of the same info and is considerably better researched.
****Edited to add: If the above statement bothers you I do not care so please stop commenting on it, thanks:)

This book is written by a white person for other whites.
Most of what she writes is common sense but no doubt useful for white folks struggling to not feel attacked when racism is discussed.

I was annoyed at a remark about 21% in where the author points out that she isn't a fan of Black history month or Black firsts. The authors direct quote is "'I am not against Black History Month. But it should be celebrated in a way that doesn’t reinforce whiteness. &
The subtext is that Robinson finally had what it took to play with whites, as if no black athlete before him was strong enough to compete at that level. Imagine if instead, the story went something like this: “Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.”

This implies that Black History Month reinforces whiteness which is a bullshit claim. What this demonstrates is that the author doesn't understand Black History month and furthermore doesn't understand that white people are not ever under any circumstances ever entitled to an opinion on Black Culture or Community.

Her criticism on what black folks create for themselves is irrelevant, racially insensitive and out of pocket. I agree with her that Black firsts should be presented as finally white people stop being so racist and let this Black person participate. I'd argue with her that's what Black folk already understand to be the context. Since Black History month is for us, white folks misconstruing or misunderstanding the context is not important. Which is why the author should not offer white opinions on what Black folks create to celebrate themselves, it has no white context. So if you're not Black you won't get it and you don't need to. It's not for you. Stay in your fucking lane.

Edited to add:
If you are white and the previous paragraph about the authors opinion on 'Black firsts' bothers you please do not comment on it; I did not misunderstand the author, I don't care if that bit was particularly helpful to you, please don't comment with the exact quote to tell me I misread it. All of those responses are expressions of your own white fragility. If you want to see how I respond to such questions, do read the comment section as I have replied to this repeatedly.

Edited Oct 28, 2020 to add:
Because this is such a popular issue with folks who read this review I took the time to engage with a white person fully on this issue, Heather.
That exchange starts on Oct 24, 2020.
If you are interested in how I feel, why I respond this way, any further thoughts read my exchange with Heather. It goes on for several days.
I do not know why folks act like this but do not do it in my comment section.

Otherwise good ice breaker for whites. This quickly needs to be followed up by real facts provided by Black folks: Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson would be my suggestion.
Now you know why you feel sensitive and why you don't need to- here's the history you benefit from and the effect it has on those who do not benefit so you do.

Edited to add an expanded suggested reading list:
Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
Settlers: The Mythology of the White Proletariat by J. Sakai
Black and British by David Olusoga
So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
When They Call You A Terrorist by Patrisse Khan-Cullors
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
White Rage by Carol Anderson
How We Get Free by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor
The Price for their Pound of Flesh by Daina Ramey Berry
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Edo-Lodge
Well that escalated quickly by Franchesca Ramsey
Medical Apartheid by Harriet A Washington
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
The History of White People by Nell Irvin Painter
Algorithms of Oppression by Safiya Umoja Noble
Black Resistance, White Law by Mary Frances Berry
Sundown Towns by James Loewen
Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Angela Davis
A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind by Harriet A Washington
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
FYI feel free to copy & paste or SS and share with credit.
Profile Image for jade.
489 reviews290 followers
June 24, 2020
this book is currently at the top of the new york times best seller list. it’s been there for eleven weeks straight, right in front of several other non-fiction books about race and racism written by people of color. it holds an average 4.5 rating here on goodreads with 32k+ ratings.

it’s also written by a white woman.

yes, well, bear with me.

the arguments in favor of that are about how white people accept criticism and callouts way better from other white people. they might even sit down to listen and learn. heck, robin diangelo makes that very point in this book, too. and i can already hear people say, “but jade, isn’t it a good thing that white people are taking the burden of educating each other rather than bothering people of color about this?”

yes and no. white people are definitely responsible for their own education on these sorts of topics. however, there is a deeper underlying problem with this particular book, and that is this:

it is not truly about racism. it centers whiteness, and whiteness only.

sure, diangelo gives her readers a quick, repetitive Racism 101 class. you get to learn about white privilege, white fragility, white tears, white guilt, white supremacy, and white allyship (are you sensing a theme yet?). mostly about how white people shouldn’t get so damn defensive all the time, and how they shouldn’t make racist jokes in corporate environments.

and that’s it.

there is no contextual history. there is no explanation nor exploration of the reasons why we live in a racist society. nothing about cause and effect. there is no discussion on how our racist society is upheld on a daily basis, through policy and law and other powerful tools of oppression. there is no mention of the collective trauma and pain that racism causes and has caused, except for those off-hand microaggressions in clean, almost sterile corporate settings.

not at any point does this book teach genuine empathy. it does not evoke a strong sense of injustice, nor does it radicalize or stimulate its reader to the point of antiracist action. all it does is teach its reader that they are white.

and even the titular white fragility becomes a toothless annoyance, a defensiveness that white people should learn to suppress or control -- and never a thing that can very often spark actual violence and threat in the daily lives of many people of color.

i honestly don’t mean to downplay microaggressions; they’re immensely mentally exhausting. but reading this book makes it seem as if we as a society are beyond racist violence (and legislation), and white people merely need to watch what they’re saying to people of color at work. i can very easily see the target group of this book reading this and going, “is THIS it? is this what people of color get so pissy about?”

it also doesn’t help to know that diangelo is a business consultant who’s made it her job to teach other white people about racism and whiteness, and profits off of workshops on these topics. and from what i’ve been hearing and seeing of those, even within this book, they come across as just as devoid of any historical context or genuine exploration of harmful stereotypes.

in the end, what this book is about is simply not enough.

only one side of the coin is shown, shoveling out a version of ‘racism’ in its most palatable form meant for white consumption. it has none of the history, none of the trauma, and barely any black voices or voices of color.

i also sincerely doubt whether this book would be enough for white people who go in without any prior knowledge or education on racism. if i imagine someone coming in waving their finger around telling me i’m not allowed to do this or that (including crying out of empathy) without explaining why, i’d probably dismiss it right away and be like, “well folks, looks like i’m fragile after all!!”

which you can see happening here on goodreads too, by the way. a lot of the 1-star reviews are of exactly that sentiment.

so no, i’m not going to endorse this book. on its own, it does very little, except perhaps infuriate me a great deal.

such as diangelo casually shitting on black history month and obama’s presidency. i mean, neither are exempt from criticism at all, but i’m really not interested in reading a white woman’s negative comments on these topics while she is (1) preaching to other white people about racism, and (2) not giving any CONTEXT for the criticism itself.

because i doubt the first thing a white person trying to understand racism needs to know is that black history month is bad because it reinforces “the idea that racism in the united states can operate outside white people”.

anyway, if you’re a white person who got something out of this book, good for you i guess. but this is not the time to study your own whiteness; this is the time to study the history of the world and your country. this is the time to sit down and try to grasp the full breadth of what racism is and what it does to people of color by listening to black voices and the voices of people of color.

pick up angela davis. read james baldwin. check out ibram x. kendi. michelle alexander. bell hooks. ronald takaki. carol anderson.

educate yourself on actual historical events and black/poc experiences, and leave this white-centered corporate workshop for what it is.

1.0 stars.
Profile Image for lady h.
639 reviews181 followers
February 14, 2019
I'm undecided as to how to rate this book. On the one hand, it's a fantastic first step for folks just becoming aware of racism. But personally, as a POC who has been engaging with these concepts for years now, I found it very rudimentary. Which I can't really criticize it for! It's meant to be rudimentary! But it meant that my reading experience was both quick and a little dull. Which is no fault of the book. I will say that I was introduced to some sociological concepts that I hadn't been familiar with, which I appreciated. But otherwise, it's Racism 101 for White Folks, and it's explicitly tailored to that purpose. And again: it's a first step. This is a short book that tries to cover a lot of topics quickly and easily. It's not enough, but it's a fantastic start.

What I will say about the book from a more objective standpoint is that I wish more examples had been included. DiAngelo focuses a lot on theory, which of course is important, but she also repeats herself a lot. I think a more useful approach would have been to talk more about specific examples of white fragility that she encountered in her workshops and break down the various problematic aspects. It was when she spoke about specific encounters that I was most engaged, and I think her points came across much more clearly when she used those examples.

So, overall, a great book if you're just getting started learning about structural racism, but also a good refresher if you're already somewhat familiar.

Profile Image for Aaron Akbar.
115 reviews16 followers
July 26, 2018
The book raises striking and specific points about how as whites we have biases toward race while pretending we are colorblind. She states specific examples, and outlays practical way forward.

Most of the lower star ratings of this book seem to be exhibiting the exact fragility she outlines, and really only prove to drive her point home further.
Even more, they seem to ignore the very clear outlining in the book of difference between personal and systemic racism. That the way forward is to stop taking things personally when accused of being a part of the problem, and instead to look to ways to contribute to the dismantiling of systems in place. Few whites are racist, but all whites participate in racist systems. It's on us to learn to step into the discomfort and let healing begin. That's what this book addresses.
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,644 reviews5,099 followers
June 25, 2020
This is a sometimes interesting yet essentially broken vessel for the author's frustration in dealing with the ignorant and often prejudiced white people who have participated in her diversity seminars. The book trolls those participants while purporting to be a learning tool itself.

To a limited extent, it is that tool. Its chapter on white privilege provides a superb overview. Likewise its chapter on the essentially racist character of much U.S. history. These lessons can also be found elsewhere, including Google. Unfortunately, its flaws far outweigh its virtues. Who is this book for? The audience is clearly liberal whites, and masochistic ones at that. Why masochistic? Because this book offers no way forward. It simply and repeatedly instructs its white readers on why they are racist and will always be racist. To "learn" this lesson is to parrot back what the author has told them, while backing it up with facts about American history and white privilege. Dialogue and emotional responses from trainees are not just disdained, they are seen as pervasive symptoms of racism. A person can read this polemic and gain an understanding of white culpability today and throughout history. But it provides no impetus to move forward, to create actual change. The book is a dead end.

Lessons learned should provide meaningful paths to the future. Better paths. Paths to protest, to repair, to dialogue, to activism, to legislation. But White Fragility exists in a vacuum, it ignores such potentialities. It only scolds. If you acknowledge your apparently inherent racism as a white person, it has done its job. Congratulations, racist. Now just shut up, there is nothing more for you to do.

As a trainer who trains people of all races to provide peer support to other people of all races; as an individual who identifies variously as mixed-race, Filipino, and white; and as a professional in a leadership position at my agency who wants to encourage openness and reflection from my nervous white colleagues on the topics of racial equity and anti-racism... this book was utterly useless to me. This is a reductive book in all ways.

1.5 stars, rounded down.

(quotes from the book are in italics)

> Well I like the forward, maybe because I'm mixed-race and she seems to be bending over backwards to understand me: Multiracial people, because they challenge racial constructs and boundaries, face unique challenges in a society in which racial categories have profound meaning.

But anyway, on to reading some white-bashing written by a white person! That always amuses me.
STOP, MARK. You want to get something from this, you need to adjust your bad attitude! Keep an open mind, Mark!

> LOL: I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color.
- Um, no.

Liberals & progressives (like myself) are used to being bashed by conservatives, Republicans, the deplorables, but I've always found the most skilled bashers of liberals & progressives to be other liberals & progressives. Such a masochistic breed! People with empathy know the softest spots, and where to hit the hardest. The ignorance of that comment about white progressives sorta took my breath away. Not a great start.

> This part is true, and I'm seeing this now as I've seen it before, in discussions we're currently having at my very progressive agency: Being seen racially is a common trigger of white fragility, and thus, to build our stamina, white people must face the first challenge: naming our race.

- DiAngelo's definition of "Individualism" is remarkably self-serving. Particularly in how she posits it as an ideology that props up racism. I think I get where she's coming from: she wants white people to focus on one particular trait - whiteness - and not on how all people are individuals because they are the intersection of many different identities. And there's truth to the idea that whites are afforded an individuality that POC are often unable to attain in group settings and in representations in the media. But I'm not loving how she refuses to see complexity of identity as a valid way to understand how different people engage with the world, and how she would rather look at all whites as simply white. Although I understand that not wanting to look at the complexity of individuals means your message will be very easy to package and sell! In general, DiAngelo is quite comfortable with generalizing - she's a sociologist after all. But doesn't she realize that she's doing the exact same thing to white people that POC have complained about being done to us/them for approximately forever? And how has that worked out?

> This feels true: If we “look white,” we are treated as white in society at large. For example, people of southern European heritage, such as Spanish or Portuguese, or from the former Soviet Union ... are likely to have a stronger sense of ethnic identity than will someone of the same ethnicity whose ancestors have been here for generations. Yet although their internal identity may be different, if they “pass” as white, they will still have a white experience externally. If they look white, the default assumption will be that they are white and thus they will be responded to as white.
- I do have a challenge with this idea of a "white experience" because class and other factors are not being taken into consideration. Is there a monolithic "white experience"? I should ask some white people! As a mixed-race person, this sort of tribalism is hard for me to understand. But as a half-white person, perhaps I should just examine my own experiences. How often have I "passed"? And how would I even know, absent overt displays of racism towards me?

> This is ye olde collegiate definition of racism that I actually agree with: 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.
- Earlier she mentioned that POC can be prejudiced just like whites, so that combined with her definition of racism makes sense to me. While anyone can "pre-judge" others, and discriminate against them, "racism" can only be exhibited by the race that holds the most power. But I wonder how she will link this definition to her basic idea that all whites are racist.

> Whiteness rests upon a foundational premise: the definition of whites as the norm or standard for human, and people of color as a deviation from that norm.
- I've railed against this in various reviews of modern genre novels, this white norm that occurs in settings where that doesn't make sense. In the novel Sand most explicitly. And still I persist in wondering: if the majority of the population in a given place is a certain race, wouldn't that race always be considered the norm? There's something true and also something so obvious, so meaningless about her definition of whiteness.

- She makes an interesting case for "white supremacy" to be seen as a political system, a system that includes everything from government to entertainment. If only by her use of stats to illustrate percentages of whites in positions of leadership. I can then compare those percentages to the actual percentage of white people in the US, which ends up being @ 87% whites in those positions vs. 73% of whites in the US population. Food for thought.

- I'm not in love with her example of a white mother shushing a child saying "Mommy, his skin is black!" as upholding the idea that black is a disability or less than white. Couldn't it be because Mommy doesn't want her kid to be othering another person?

- I was on-board with her definition of "aversive racism" as the kind of racism - although I would actually call it prejudice - practiced by people, consciously or unconsciously, when using coded language to describe black spaces. But I'm not so on-board with the example of a friend talking about a dangerous neighborhood meaning that that friend had a "horror of black spaces". I think there is clearly a potential racial corollary there, but at the same time this is too simplistic. To insist that the description of a neighborhood as "dangerous" is only about its blackness seems to be a self-serving way to turn what is a loaded statement - i.e. potentially prejudiced but also possibly about class systems - into a genuinely racist statement. So yeah, more generalizations.

> DiAngelo equates Being careful not to use racial terms or labels when people of color are present with Mimicking “black mannerisms and speech” and with actions like Avoiding contact (e.g., crossing a street or not going to a particular bar or club), Using code words to talk negatively about people of color, Occasional violence directed at people of color..
- These seem to me to be very different sorts of behavior, some being examples of prejudice or racism while others being a lot more complex. But hell, why not call them all "examples of racially conscious behavior" because that's the book I'm reading.

- The chapter HOW DOES RACE SHAPE THE LIVES OF WHITE PEOPLE? is the most sustained exploration of how white privilege is lived unconsciously that I've read so far in the book. Of course the last page diminishes all that came before by engaging in DiAngelo's typically lazy generalizations, but for the most part, this is really effective. I also love the idea of "white innocence". This all could be useful for me as a trainer - except I am almost always training people who identify as leftist, and they are usually already fully aware of how they (if they are white) benefit from being white. And so they appreciate my discussion of privilege more as a series of handy tips and reminders on how to be a better volunteer & person rather than as a launching point for cultural self-exploration. Because they've already done all that self-exploration, usually in college, and that's why they moved to the Bay Area in the first place. Well, that and those Big Tech greenbacks, of course. Gotta make that money if you wanna be a true coastal elite, amiright?

> If, as a white person, I conceptualize racism as a binary and I place myself on the “not racist” side, what further action is required of me? No action is required, because I am not a racist. Therefore, racism is not my problem; it doesn’t concern me and there is nothing further I need to do. This worldview guarantees that I will not build my skills in thinking critically about racism or use my position to challenge racial inequality.
- I question this cause & effect. Especially in light of the recent protests, but also in general. It seems to be admonishing binary thinking while actually engaging in it. If someone does not consider themselves racist, why then does this automatically mean they will not engage in anti-racism?

- Very interesting point about how "color-blind claims" (e.g. "I don't see race") and "color-celebrate claims" (e.g. "I have people of color in my family") both function as ways to exempt people from engaging in conversations about racism.

> No person of color whom I’ve met has said that racism isn’t at play in his or her friendships with white people.
- This was a somewhat shocking thing for me to read because this hasn't been my experience at all as a POC. Of course I've experienced racism, numerous times, but not from the words or deeds of actual friends. What makes me different from all the POC that DiAngelo has met? Is it because I'm mixed race? Am I just lucky, just ignorant, just benefiting from my mixed-race status, or is DiAngelo just stacking the deck? I honestly don't know.

- It's interesting to me that the author has so far (to page 112) only provided examples (during her experiences as a diversity trainer) of people who defiantly oppose what she is teaching them. Will there be any examples of her getting through to people, how she got through to them, how they improved, how workplaces became safer spaces for POC, etc? Or are all of these examples meant to say that white people will always fail at understanding their racist behavior, no matter what or how she tries to teach them? It's a curious use of her real life experiences. Is this a purposeful indictment of all white people or an inadvertent indictment of her own methods and ideologies as a diversity trainer? Or maybe she's just shy of talking about her accomplishments! Yes, let's say that, it's a better look.

- Ok, page 114 did make me smile with its mordantly amusing story of a young white woman whose co-workers were afraid she was having an actual heart attack after being criticized for making certain comments. But I still really wish there was a part 2 to that story, describing how DiAngelo ended up engaging this melodramatic young woman successfully. Did that part 2 ever happen? It would have been useful for me as a trainer and as a colleague interested in proactive dialogue with my white colleagues. But I suppose that's not the point of this book, which is apparently to just repeatedly provide examples of white fragility. *Sigh*

> Sweet Jesus, now DiAngelo has taken it upon herself to denounce the basic guidelines for building trust in a training as accommodations made to coddle white fragility:
• Don’t judge
• Don’t make assumptions
• Speak your truth
• Respect

- I dunno what to even say. It's like she perfectly understands white privilege but has no actual comprehension about how to reach people. Does she not understand that gathering people in a room and telling them all how wrong they are, and will always be, is not an effective mechanism for genuine change or understanding? Or that these guidelines have helped POC in trainings to also feel safe enough to express opinions and share experiences? Ugh!

- Ok I was prepared to hate this chapter entitled WHITE WOMEN’S TEARS. I've heard about DiAngelo's thoughts on this. But it does make some solid points: tears and other emotional displays can be a form of manipulation and they can shift focus away from the important topic at hand. That said, DiAngelo barely acknowledges the most frequent reason women (AND MEN) cry in these settings: because they are experiencing sorrow or pain over something they have learned about themselves, or are reacting to a story they are hearing that illustrates a terrible injustice or a painful experience. It is like the author does not really want to acknowledge the importance and necessity of empathy as a key to bridging divides.

- Last chapter finally features the book's sole example of a breakthrough from a white person who acknowledges their problematic behavior and gracefully accepts feedback, promising to learn from the experience. This white person is... Robin DiAngelo! I assume DiAngelo could think of no other examples to provide. LMAO
Profile Image for Youp.
122 reviews88 followers
July 7, 2020
Here is the premise of a book I’m going to write: every person over eighteen is a child abuser. All adults are involved in a conspiracy to abuse children, and to maintain this status quo. If I confront you, an adult, about this and you react with anger, sadness, argumentation, silence, walking away, or any other possible human emotion, you have confirmed my accusation. You might think you deeply care about children, and you would never abuse them, but this is either denial or your subconscious group bias to preserve your adult privilege. I do not need to provide actual proof for my accusation, since I’ve done a lot of thinking and this was the logical conclusion I came up with. Whenever a child confronts you with your abusiveness, you should thank them for their feedback, apologize and immediately change your behavior. You are a child abuser. Oh, by the way, my definition of child abuse is ‘doing anything that makes the child unhappy’, but I couldn’t bother to come up with a new term so let’s just stick with this.

If you replace ‘children’ with ‘black people’ and ‘abuse’ with ‘racism’, you get a good idea of ‘White Fragility’ by Robin DiAngelo. It’s a ludicrous book, filled with hypocrisy and inconsistency, and everything you’ve come to expect from the ideology of identity politics. If you already subscribe to the far left hivemind, you can safely skip this book, since it won’t give you any new instructions on how to act and think. For everyone else, there is zero value in reading this if you’re interested in actual insights into actual racism.

Identity Politics
The first red flag you will encounter is reading the foreword written by none other than Michael Dyson, whose idea of debating someone is calling them an ‘angry white man’. At least he’s upfront when he writes ‘This book is unapologetically rooted in identity politics.’ Moving on to the actual book, the first chapters give the reader some insights into the inconsistency of this ideology. DiAngelo writes:

“'For example, in a group in which I am the only woman, gender will likely be very salient for me. When I am in a group that is all white, except for one person of color, race will likely be my most salient identity.”

Whether your (arbitrarily) chosen characteristic is a majority or minority in a group of people, you can somehow always twist it into being key to your identity.
The author reveals a glimpse of her definition of racism in these first paragraph. It’s the same, tiresome Marxist claim regarding a ‘position of power’ of ‘white people’ over ‘people of color’ (PoC for short), without defining any of these terms. Throughout the book she adds to her list of meaningless terminology, with phrases such as 'collective white consciousness’, which certainly doesn’t improve its readability.

After introducing us to her unconventional definition of racism, the following paragraphs are mostly spent on anecdotes and accusations as evidence for white supremacy. Among other claims, the author states that white people feel entitled to an advantage due to their race, that white people feel superior (either unconsciously or unadmitted), there’s a conspiracy of white people to uphold the status quo, and white people reacting with emotions such as ‘anger, fear and guilt’, or actions like 'argumentation, silence and withdrawal' are evidence of their racism. It would make for a perfect flow chart, where the only box you can end up in is labeled ‘white supremacist’. Bret Weinstein, in his talk ‘How the Magic Trick is Done’ did a brilliant game-theoretical analysis of this blame game, which I highly recommend you watch on YouTube.

Here are some more gems from the book that proof you are a racist:

- If you constantly talk over other people, for whatever reason, those people better only be white. Because if you talk over black people, that is racist.

- If you call all your female students 'girl', those students better only be white. Because if you call a black student 'girl', that is racist.

- If a black person builds a certain piece of software (a survey), and you don’t like it, that’s racist.

Somehow not racist is Joan, a black woman:

'While Karen sees herself as a unique individual, Joan sees Karen as a white individual'.

It borders on the utterly insane, where racism magically disappears if an act is committed by a person of color. In a piece for The New Yorker, Kelefa Sanneh did a great job of summarizing the madness:

‘…DiAngelo is endlessly deferential—for her, racism is basically whatever any person of color thinks it is. In the story she tells about the world, she and her fellow white people have all the power, and therefore all the responsibility to do the gruelling but transformative spiritual work she calls for. The story makes white people seem like flawed, complicated characters; by comparison, people of color seem good, wise, and perhaps rather simple. This narrative may be appealing to its target audience, but it doesn’t seem to offer much to anyone else.’

Since Sanneh is a ‘person of color’, I can only imagine how DiAngelo’s brain would short circuit reading this critique of her world view, since by her own standards she should accept the feedback and change her behavior. Game theoretically, DiAngelo’s system is terrible, since there needs to be a distinction between genuine racism and a clumsy remark. Between confronting a racist, and the need to grow a thicker skin. Between someone giving valuable feedback about your behavior, and someone with bad intentions guilting you into being a racist.

Fact Checking
For a work with immensely strong suggestions, there is very little data or evidence the author is able to show. The obvious one she repeatedly falls back on is the Far Left’s favorite toy: the implicit bias test. Even though this test is severely flawed and misused for multiple reasons, DiAngelo has no problem basing broad generalizations on it. There is a complete lack of nuance and restraint in her writing, reaching conclusions going far beyond those of the social scientists she cites. Furthermore, even if the implicit bias test was valid, it’s not self-evident that making people aware of this bias would be beneficial.

At times her statements are not just unnuanced, but simply faulty. Take for example the following quote, about representation:

'Most persons of color have rarely, if ever, had a teacher who reflected their own races'.

A quick Google search will show you that this is simply false, no matter how you twist or turn it. Obviously, she doesn’t mention that male teachers and non-white teachers are approximately the same percentage, since this would interfere with the narrative of oppression.

Besides the lack of basic fact checking, the author continuously demonstrates her (deliberate?) misunderstanding of statistics. Any scientist worth their salt will tell you that correlation does not imply causation, but DiAngelo will have you believe otherwise. I wonder if the author also believes that consumption of ice cream increases your chances of drowning? For more on this subject, I recommend the fantastic book ‘The Coddling of the American Mind’ by Jonathan Haidt and Greg Lukianoff; which dissects much of the mindset found in this book.

In one of the later chapters, the author goes over the so-called ‘rules of engagement’ regarding confronting a racist (read ‘white people’). It’s baffling how DiAngelo acts like ‘giving someone feedback in private’, or ‘assume my good intentions’ are somehow rules specifically invented for white people, as opposed to general social standards. If I have a colleague who eats at their desk and doesn’t clean up their mess, I follow the same principles. Not because they’re a white supremacist, but simply because that’s the best way to give feedback to people.

Without elaborating on every rule she mentions, it’s specifically noteworthy that the author believes we cannot consciously change our assumptions or interpretation of someone’s intentions. Yes, you can. In the example above, I might think that my colleague deliberately wants to make a mess to piss everyone in the office off. However, since I don’t know that, I am going to assume they are unaware of it. DiAngelo continuously shows her misunderstanding of basic human interactions by weird statements such as not being able to control your assumptions, and it takes (even more) away from her credibility.

Concept Creep
For all the creative terms DiAngelo and her fellow radicals have come up with (white guilt, white tears, white flight, white fragility), you’d think she could coin a new term for her definition of ‘racism’. Throughout the book, she occasionally touches upon problematic issues actually worth focusing on, such as racial framing by police and ‘persons of color’ being expected to leave the hospital faster than white people. However, it is completely unacceptable to frame everything as racism, and to label every white person a racist.

Racism is believing that certain races are superior or inferior, and to deliberately treat people of other races as if they are inferior. To accept someone labeling you as racist for a clumsy, well-meant remark interpreted in the worst way possible, is a dangerous form of concept creep. It means accepting the guilt (and possible punishment) of something horrible, without actually being guilty of it. Another example of this concept creep used by the author, and a common tactic by the Far Left, is the term ‘language of violence'. No matter how harsh, language is never violence. If you accept that it is, don’t be surprised to find people justifying actual violence against you.

‘White Fragility’ is unscientific, illogical, hypocritical and highly repetitive. Most importantly, it uses a definition for ‘racism’ that is unacceptable, even though some of the underlying concepts might be valid. Actual racism exists, and the world would be a better place without it. Some groups, whether defined by race, gender, age or whatever, face certain challenges we could all help with. None of this, however, is a takeaway when you read this book.

As DiAngelo writes towards the ending of the book, it’s best to ‘focus on the message, and not the messenger'. The main message of this book is ‘All white people are racist’. Regardless of the messenger’s race, gender, age or sexuality, that’s a stupid message.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,460 reviews8,563 followers
October 19, 2019
An excellent, powerful book I would recommend to all white people. It scares me a bit to write that because I imagine some white people may take offense to that statement (an emotional reaction Robin DiAngelo discusses in the book), and at the same time I stand by it. I will write a little about this book’s high quality, though I want to start with a personal story that may help explain why this book means a lot to me.

Around a year ago, I called a white woman colleague out on a behavior of hers that involved racism and colonization. Before I did so, I tried very hard to make sure that I delivered my concern in a gentle and affirming way. I put in extra effort to validate her as a person and I acted even nicer than perhaps I should have felt obligated to. This white woman asked me to meet in person after I emailed her my concern, and because I had trusted her, I agreed to this meeting.

In this meeting, this white woman displayed the exact set of behaviors DiAngelo describes in this book – white fragility. She said that she felt offended and hurt that I would accuse her of behaving in a colonizing/racist way. She said that no one in her life had ever or would ever call her out on this behavior. She said that I acted “aggressively” and that I should have “trusted” her more instead of blaming her. I want to reiterate that throughout this in-person meeting, I tried again and again to placate her with gentle reassurances while standing my ground. Still, she said that she felt hurt and centered her feelings over mine.

After this meeting, I felt devastated. I walked to my office, shut the door, and practiced a lot of deep breathing to calm down. I felt so misunderstood and tone-policed – I had just tried to offer this white woman gentle feedback on a problematic behavior, and she acted as if I had attacked her. Luckily, I was able to reach out to my friends (both people of color and white friends) who validated my experience and I read a ton of articles on tone-policing to understand that other people of color, especially black women, undergo the same discriminatory behavior.

I share this experience for the specific purpose of highlighting why I feel so grateful for Robin DiAngelo. Due to this incident and others, there are times where I feel fearful of sharing my true self and my authentic reactions around white people, because a lot of white people practice tone policing and white fragility. DiAngelo names these behaviors and explains how they hurt people of color. She breaks down the common ways white people collude in white supremacy, the problematic nature of the good/bad binary in relation to racism, and common racial triggers for white people. Here is a quote I appreciated about why white fragility acts as a form of bullying:

”White fragility functions as a form of bullying; I am going to make it so miserable for you to confront me – no matter how diplomatically you try to do so – that you will simply back off, give up, and never raise the issue again. White fragility keeps people of color in line and ‘in their place.’ In this way, it is a powerful form of white racial control. Social power is not fixed; it is constantly challenged and needs to be maintained. We might think of the triggers of white fragility discussed in chapter 7 as challenges to white power and control, and of white fragility as the means to end the challenge and maintain that power and control.”

I know that I should not applaud DiAngelo for doing the work that all white people should do, and again, I feel grateful to know that there are white people who will do the work of racial justice. Allies matter. For better or worse, white people listen to fellow white people more than they listen to people of color when it comes to racism, so we need white allies to show up to help dismantle white supremacy. Reading this book validated the experiences I have undergone as a person of color and helped reassure me that while there are a lot of white people who will hurt me, like the white woman in the incident described above, there are others, hopefully, who will use their privilege to fight for people of color. Here is another quote about how emotions are political and related to issues of social justice:

”Many of us see emotions as naturally occurring. But emotions are political in two key ways. First, our emotions are shaped by our biases and beliefs, our cultural frameworks. For example, if I believe – consciously or unconsciously – that it is normal and appropriate for men to express anger but not women, I will have very different emotional responses to men’s and women’s expressions of anger. I might see a man who expresses anger as competent and in charge and may feel respect for him, while I see a woman who expresses anger as childish and out of control and may feel contempt for her. If I believe that only bad people are racist, I will feel hurt, offended, and shamed when an unaware racist assumption of mine is pointed out. If I instead believe that having racist assumptions is inevitable (but possible to change), I will feel gratitude when an unaware racist assumption is pointed out; now I am aware of and can change that assumption. In this way, emotions are not natural; they are the result of the frameworks we are using to make sense of social relations. And of course, social relations are political. Our emotions are also political because they are often externalized; our emotions drive behaviors that impact other people.”

Again, highly recommended to all white people and also people of color interested in this topic. DiAngelo’s writing is clear, straightforward, and intelligent. She analyzes the issue of white fragility with great depth while providing tangible actions white people can take to address this issue. I hope white people who read this book will utilize its lessons and apply them to their own lives, whether or not anyone else watches. I hope that my fellow people of color know that you are not alone in experiencing white fragility and its painful repercussions.
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
795 reviews3,619 followers
July 12, 2020
Victim role and defense mechanisms prevent an emancipated and enlightened reappraisal of past and present grievances, culminating in worsening of system immanent problems, backlashes, and indirect and unconscious promotion of racial divide. Building mental suppression reflexes, fortifications against unwanted truth, is a sign of an immature and romantic idealization of one´s ego for the price of being part of the problem.

The term aversive racism is well chosen, it´s exactly the subconscious mechanism many are unwilling to accept as part of their socialization and conditioning, an epigenetic factor expanding in those trying to be against prejudices, but unwillingly promoting them in a way they don´t even see. It´s the misuse of altruism by indirectly enforcing stereotypes, belittling minorities and other ethnicities, and downplaying the own bias and agenda one deems positive.

Look at who built Western society, what inhuman ideologies they had, and think about what that means about the foundations of any system and how much of it is still there under the surface. If one isn´t willing to accept it and wants to keep living the illusions while having a privileged life, try this one:
Contrast the reality with a fictional culture built by women for women, an ecotopia by environmentalists, a techno utopia by futurists, etc. In none of these cases someone would deny that key elements of the main ideas can be seen in all elements of the culture, but in reality, of course, no, thank you, inappropriate idea, we are over that, everything is fine.

Ignoring own problems worsens them and the older we get the more passive aggressive indirect racist mindsets, that are often indirectly expressed in economic and political contexts, come to mind. Whenever a person is insecure about not possibly promoting ideologies that have integrated exploitative and evil elements, one can easily find cozy reassurance of the righteousness of one's behavior thanks to echo chambers and media exponentiating the hypnotizing sound of all these decent people who can´t all be wrong.

And then, bam, someone dares to tell the truth about such self deception mechanisms that don´t just include individual blinders, but many other, good willing people with the same opinion, friends, family,… that of course also don´t deem themselves part of the problem and the natural reaction is, of course, extreme outrage, pure white fragility. „I, an activist for years, decades, having so many friends of all ethnicities, etc. yada, should be a bigoted, opportunistic enforcer of racist ideas? You, harbinger, are wrong and should be ashamed for making me feel bad about your fake history news! And I am activating my being offended mode because now I just feel and can´t think anymore.“

It´s exactly what I´ve experienced with many other problems privileged, white people don´t have to deal with and build illusions, ivory towers, and excuses for their inactions and stubborn behavior around them.instead. In Europe, precisely Austria, it´s done with refugees, the economic system, nazi past, sexism, conservatism, etc that way. People have their unbalanced, strange, implemented opinions they mainly built on news media, friends, and family instead of book and science and repeat bias, mantras, and illogical and bad explanations. As soon as someone points the finger on the hard, real facts, they react this way, get aggressive, change topic, do as if they didn´t mean it that way, behave like expected by good extremists and fanatics. The refuge of pseudointellectual wanna be experts that keep repeating whatever their social media feed drips in their mind, even infecting people that should know better.

Even well meaning people who are active in charity organizations, NGOs,… are prone to this blind spots, some strange examples I´ve tried out: Try talking to environmentalist about positive aspects of NGOs, to human rights activists about dehumanizing elements of our whole system and how it indirectly promotes circles of violence instead of just helping whistleblowers and journalists, to hard working people who invest much of their money in destructive, useless consumerism, to green party members…or to anti racism and equal rights groups about this. Forget it, they will act like kids, immediate defiant phase activation, lalala, don´t want to hear. Honestly, part of my misanthropy is that I´ve lost interest in and respecting of many people who are so blind to how they have been instrumentalized to greenwash corporate responsibility PR camouflaged as real activism without even recognizing, and absorb the propaganda as part of their identity, thinking we have reached the end of history, attacking anything questioning their distorted and self aggrandizing world view.

They are lost, stranded in a mixture of
salted with
fueled by the
that legitimates their disturbing views with fringe science. Their whole personality is built on nothing more than the soft washed, trivialized, indirect fallout of anachronistic ideals still secretly metastasizing and growing with any descendant of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. At a moment in history where anyone could build an objective opinion by using the amazing possibilities of wikis, apps, independent media, and progressive nonfiction authors instead of reading the same, repetitive, everything is fine fairy tale unicorn rainbow BS. Instead, they keep being used by forces they don´t want to be real, whose main interest is to divide and rule by fueling any kind of conflict between social groups to keep their status.

It made me hyper sceptical regarding many humanities and soft sciences they use as arguments too. It also took me some time over the last decade to go chronologically through the feelings of disbelief, anger, something close to hate (one of the rare emotions I feel next to flow, hungry, the other ry (not sorry), and sleepy), motivation to try to change people, I am still laughing about this one, repeating of the first circle, to end up with cold, cynic apathy for, disinterest in, and avoidance of the overwhelming majority of the population. But it luckily fueled my belief in the youth and the next generation instead.

Power resetting people´s mindsets is very difficult and if it´s not combined with an extreme ideology (and even then it´s close to impossible to make people accept that they´ve been wrong over years or decades), but with thinking of themselves as progressive founding mothers and fathers of a better future, it gets close to impossible. They´ve invested time, heart blood, belief, studying, debating,… in becoming the person and identify they are and I don´t believe many of them will change, because it includes many other aspects of their agenda and ideology, they would have to reevaluate and revise key elements, something too brutal and hard. See what I just did, I indirectly defended white fragility, it´s truly a hellish circle.

And an extremely ridiculous one in the eyes of discriminated groups and minorities, it´s a kind of black comedy mentally instable person gag where the wealthy, carefree, lucky ones do as if changing the inhuman system that made them rich, and some of their opinions, is something unfair, painful, and gruesome to them.

A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real life outside books:
Profile Image for Bookishrealm.
1,909 reviews4,800 followers
June 18, 2020
Okay first let me start by saying that I’m not rating this book. It’s intentional. I don’t feel like I can fairly rate a book that was not written for me. It is clearly stated by the author at the beginning of the book and it’s clear by the subject matter. I won’t even say that I enjoyed this book because some parts were triggering and some parts made me pissed as hell BUT is this knowledge that people should be privy too? Yes. Do I think that all White people will benefit from this information? Yes. It’s important. What’s ironic about this book is that it’s things that Black people have been saying for years HOWEVER sometimes it’s best that White people hear this from other White people.

There are a few aspects of this book that I found very important for White people to understand. That includes the good/bad binary, white solidarity, white racial benevolence, coded language and the other meanings of White Fragility. I think that people believe (and yes I mean all people) that if they’re a good person (they don’t wear white sheets, they don’t use the n-word) that means they can’t be racist. That’s so terribly wrong. And I will say that this book does a brilliant job tearing down that fantasy like ideology.

There’s a lot more unpacking that I plan to do of this novel in a full video review. There’s a lot to address and I don’t truly believe that I can address it all in a Goodreads review. This book definitely had some interesting things to say about how White people are socialized to view the Black community in a certain light even if they get a long with Black people on a one on one or individual basis.

Profile Image for Jack  Heller.
208 reviews3 followers
July 26, 2018
This book will cut you, white person, no slack. If you think you're progressive about race--and most white people think they are--you will be confronted by this book. It's not aimed at Klansmembers. It's aimed at the people who don't recognize where they fall short. That's me. It's probably you too.
Profile Image for Jessaka.
888 reviews121 followers
April 30, 2022
You Can't Win

We had a Native American come to a group that I attend, and the first words out of his mouth were, “I hate blacks.” I wasn’t there, but it was my understanding that the leader of the group gave him hell, how much hell I do not know. But no one else spoke up, and this bothered him. I heard this story and ran into him the following week when he sat down at the table where we were having breakfast. When he said that he was from Tulsa, I said, “When I think of Tulsa I think of the race riot in 1920 when the white people burned down the black town in Tulsa, a large neighborhood with stores, doctors, lawyers, ministers, shop keepers, etc, and they killed men, women, and children.” I was trying to see for myself where this man would go with what I was telling him. He claimed that it was the black man’s fault, so I said, “If it was, there was no excuse to kill everyone they found and burn down their town.” I went on to say that I had read books on the riot, now called a “massacre,” and I didn’t see it as any black man’s fault. He felt that we should not even be talking about something that happened `100 years ago. I said, “They do because they have been traumatized.: I am not quick on conversations like this, but I would have added, :and they still are being traumatized due to senseless killings, etc. ” He said then that he didn’t like talking about race because he has been accused of being racist. When he got up from the table where we were sitting, he said that the KKK were good people, but I didn’t hear him; instead I my friend, who was sitting next to me, told me his last words.

So, I talked with the group leader, saying that people don’t know what racism is, that if they believe it to be true that a certain race is lazy or violent, etc. they don’t consider themselves to be racists. I added that we need a lecture on it. He said that people don’t listen to him because he is brown. I replied, “My ex white friends didn’t listen to me either, even though they believed I was completely white.” Well, the next time we had that group meeting, the racist man wasn’t there, but the leader talked about racism. It was this book that he used, so I got it.

I am sorry to say this: I didn’t care for this book sometimes her language was above my level of understanding. But then I felt myself getting pushed out of shape because it felt like she wanted to show everyone in her group that they were all racists. Maybe I am wrong here.

I am sure if I were in this author’s group she would believe that I was a racist, that is just what I felt when reading this book, although I consider myself an anti-racist. A white person couldn’t win. She seems to give no credit where credit is due.

One woman had said that she had friends who were black and on and on. The author was not impressed. So, I suppose you can’t say that you dated black men or Hispanic, etc. or that you were even married to one.

Back to the group that I attend weekly: Someone in our group brought up the governor, the one who wore black face in college. One person felt he should step down, I said, “I didn’t think so.” I didn’t add this: “We all make mistakes. I am interested in what kind of person he is now. Is he doing good?” But I imagine that this person felt that I was a racist. And this is the problem in our society now: people are looking to accuse others of racism, and I feel that that is what this author is doing too.

I have a white friend that I have known since my college days. She only dated black men, and she had a daughter from a black man. She used to say that black people were always late for appointments, and she called it “BP Time, Black People’s Time.” I imagine that she would be called a racist too, not someone who is just making generalizations.

Update: I decided last night to listen to parts of the book again, and came upon a chapter called “White tears,” tears that white women have when they see violence performed on black people. She claims that white tears are how white people lament on how hard racism is on them, and to back up her beliefs she says that other writers have commented on this too. She says that white women feel entitled to shed them. I listened further, and if any white person in her group begins to cry, they are asked to leave the room, because they are upsetting the black women who can’t stand white people’s tears. Plus, the woman crying is bringing attention to herself. So, I began to feel that she is standing up for the black people, when she should be investigating all of this in the group encounter that she is running. So, now I am really against this book. Most people don’t cry out of white guilt over slavery or to bring attention to themselves or whatever the reason.

Tears come without warning; they are due to compassion, not guilt. I have a hard time believing that white people feel guilty for what their ancestors did in the past. Maybe some do. But most of all we cry when we see pain in others. It doesn’t matter if they are black or white or brown. Who hasn’t felt the pain of the children at the Mexican border who are crying and being torn from their mother’s arms? Well, not everyone does as I have found out. I know of three people, when I mentioned this, immediately brought up how the Democrats behave. They deflected the subject, didn’t care about the children. Perhaps we feel guilty for chasing the Mexicans back to Mexico many years ago. Or for giving these “lazy” Mexicans jobs that the white man didn’t wish to perform, paying them very little and not caring for their medical needs.

I cried at the Wounded Knee museum when I read about the massacre of the Lakota Indians, whom I consider my people, even though I am not Lakota but Cherokee. Did I feel guilty because I wasn’t there? Did I feel guilty because my white ancestors killed them?

I cried when I read about the Tulsa race riot and went to the museum in Tulsa and saw that there was no black town left.

The author can call it what she wants, but I am not buying it. A much better book to read is, Dear White America by Tim Wise. He educates, explains racism without accusing. Any book by him is better than this one. He is a white anti-racist. I would also suggest reading books by black writers or take courses in black history. If fingers are still pointed at the white people, you can be sure that you won’t be blamed. And it will help you to see your own shortcomings without having any white guilt placed on you or be told that you are a racist.
Profile Image for Vanessa Murakami.
23 reviews8 followers
April 26, 2023
As a Japanese woman I am appalled by the level of racism against white people the author is demonstrating in this book. And she herself is white! Which goes to show that self-hatred is strong with this one. She essentially says that all white people are racist, whether they know it or not (which shuts down all conversation in and of itself), and that that pseudo-fragility she's talking about along with the pseudo-reticence white people have when it comes to talking about racism are nothing more than the absolute proof of their conscious and unconscious racism. Which, again, shuts down any conversation about the issue. So basically, if you are white you either don’t want to talk about racism because you yourself are racist, or if you do want to talk about racism you really can’t because racism is deeply rooted within you (again, whether you know it or not). Either way you lose if you happen to be white. Just because of the fact that your skin is white. Which is the literal definition of racism.

As Morgan Freeman famously said in one of his interviews when asked about racism: “When you point out race, you are racist. So ignore race and don't talk about it.” A wise man indeed.
Profile Image for Monica.
592 reviews622 followers
July 3, 2020
I think the book resonated with me because in this turbulent time, I see every last one of these behaviors, right now in real time. It's like she's following me on social media.
[White fragility] is an idea that registers the hurt feelings, shattered egos, fraught spirits, vexed bodies, and taxed emotions of white folk. In truth, their suffering comes from recognizing that they are white—that their whiteness has given them a big leg up in life while crushing others’ dreams, that their whiteness is the clearest example of the identity politics they claim is harmful to the nation, and that their whiteness has shielded them from growing up as quickly as they might have done had they not so heavily leaned on it to make it through life.

Holy cow, I can already tell I'm going to enjoy this book! But you can get out of my head now…
Socialized into a deeply internalized sense of superiority that we either are unaware of or can never admit to ourselves, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We consider a challenge to our racial worldviews as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people.

Well since you won't get out of my head; what else you got…
the United States is a global power, and through movies and mass media, corporate culture, advertising, US-owned manufacturing, military presence, historical colonial relations, missionary work, and other means, white supremacy is circulated globally. This powerful ideology promotes the idea of whiteness as the ideal for humanity well beyond the West.
White supremacy describes the culture we live in, a culture that positions white people and all that is associated with them (whiteness) as ideal. White supremacy is more than the idea that whites are superior to people of color; it is the deeper premise that supports this idea—the definition of whites as the norm or standard for human, and people of color as a deviation from that norm.

Clearly I need to break away from featuring quotes or I am going to end up republishing the book (there will be more ). DiAngelo "spilled the tea" on the things white people do to maintain privilege. The fact that this is a white person telling of all the mental gymnastics that people do to avoid accountability was (I'm not gonna lie) so satisfying for me. It's an almost urgent timber. Inevitably this book will be compared with So You Want to Talk About Race. Both books should be required reading but I found White Fragility the more compelling. I think that is because DiAngelo is speaking to a white audience as a white person telling them how their worldview frames themselves, people of color in general and Black people in particular. This is definitely #ownvoices stuff! It would seem that even the most "woke" among us are resistant to the idea that there are some racist paradigms lurking amid the "wokeness". I actually saw a review of this book on goodreads that said (paraphrased) "I prefer my antiracist books not come from a white person" Sigh. Oh to be Robin DiAngelo. The intransigence. The blindness. The lack of empathy. The overwrought concern about not being perceived as a "good" person. The indelible imprint of systemic racist culture that people try to deny. Racism is wearying and tedious. And oh how uncomfortable it must be to recognize many of the things that DiAngelo is talking about in oneself. And by the way, people of color are not exempt from many of the self delusions, logic fallacies, rationalizations and intimidation that promote and sustain white privilege/supremacy. One does not have to be white to have deployed many of the defensive mechanisms and tactics DiAngelo talks about. Tactics that we use generally to protect ideas/ideology that we don't want to change.

In the age of Trump, I see many these behaviors play out in real time in my facebook timeline. For example:
Whites also produce and reinforce the dominant narratives of society—such as individualism and meritocracy—and use these narratives to explain the positions of other racial groups. These narratives allow us to congratulate ourselves on our success within the institutions of society and blame others for their lack of success.
Like clockwork this graphic showed up in my feed from multiple sources. Here is the new itch as of late, the removal of confederate statues.

Winston Churchill said "History is written by the victors". Indeed. Who gets to determine what elements of history get preserved and what gets erased? Do these folks even understand what they are saying? These are principally the Confederate statues and flags seen all over the US. Erected long after the Civil War ended most of them went up in the 1920s as a form of intimidation for Blacks to reinforce Jim Crow laws and culture. MAGA!!
The failure to acknowledge white supremacy protects it from examination and holds it in place.
I saw a great response to this which said (paraphrased) "Satan is a part of Christian history but if we saw multiple statues around in the churches, people would be confused about who they're worshiping."

Here's a fun one that showed up on a friend's timeline. I'm going to let DiAngelo deconstruct this one…

To put it bluntly, I believe that the white collective fundamentally hates blackness for what it reminds us of: that we are capable and guilty of perpetrating immeasurable harm and that our gains come through the subjugation of others.

It goes on and on. Folks deliberately confuse the legitimate protests with rioting and looting. I did go off on a "friend" who was consciously and deliberately trying to establish Black Lives Matter as the source of the looting and destruction of property. It seemed to be this urgent need to put legitimate protests and riots all in the same bucket. Binary thinking! Folks who minimize the numerous Police shootings as bad cops and immediately launch into "Not all cops are bad" as if someone said that. These are the same people who insist that "All lives Matter if someone suggests that Black Lives Matter. It's all good or it's all bad. No nuance. This is incredibly childish. The world is not binary. Grow.the.f#ck.up!

And don't get me started on the people of color who think their lived experience makes them experts on racism. It's an identity narcissism that helps to maintain white privilege and inequality by enabling damaging ideologies and behaviors. I have a friend who is an African American female. She is in real estate so she has to navigates lots of circles but primarily where there is some wealth. She is a very positive person who radiates kindness and genuinely strives to see the good in all people. She sees herself as a bridge. She thought her life experience made her an expert on systemic biases and racism. She tried to start a conversation on fb. Smh and OMG! For example about George Floyd murder one guy said "we don't know if the officer is a racist because we don't know what was in his heart." then blamed the media for blowing it all out of proportion and drumming up resentment. He really thought he was making some kind of irrefutable point. My friend replied "I agree" not because she agreed, but she thought it would disarm and open him up for deeper discussion. Ha! She was ill equipped because we have all grown up in these cultural biases. Systemic racism is instilled in Black people too. She like her audience wanted racism to be like the following:
"The dominant paradigm of racism as discrete, individual, intentional, and malicious acts makes it unlikely that whites will acknowledge any of our actions as racism."
But "racism is a structure, not an event." It's not just lynching and cross burning, but even she doesn't quite understand the reach and implications of racism. Needless to say, I sent her this book. She doesn't need to understand how people of color feel about the endless microaggressions, she needs to know how people in the majority view the world and how it differs from her. That's a point of view that cannot come from people of color. People will rationalize, warp, manipulate and twist reality to maintain their comfort and privilege. Fortunately knowing these things is helpful in dealing with entrenched ideologies in every race, creed, religion, gender and color etc. DiAngelo goes on to define the patterns of behavior associated with "white fragility" which to me were on target. I did not expect this book to resonate with me so much. Just read the book. In my view DiAngelo is walking/talking/thinking rosetta stone.

4.75 Stars

Read on kindle
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,736 reviews14.1k followers
May 15, 2020
There is no doubt that people of color have had and continue to have unfair biases and prejudicial acts committed against them. I agree in this area when she explains, through growing up in the inner city of Chicago, how this is so.

What I don't agree with is her book premise. How she assigns motives to white people, which may not be true..in particular the white woman talking over a black woman. I know plenty of white people who do this on a regular basis, In all white company. Does she really believe that what this woman did was racist. Why couldn't it just be her forceful, albeit rude, personality? I doubt she thought through the argument that her doing so invalidated the black women's thoughts and feelings.

Another was white women's tears, couldn't they be used as a teachable moment? Why was she crying? Couldn't this help open a dialogue?

For me this book will have the opposite effect than intended. Whites will become so defensive that they will be afraid to discuss rascism. If honest emotions are wrong, where do we go from there? I agree this is an important subject, a crucial one, but don't feel this book propelled anything forward.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews35.3k followers
July 9, 2020
....read by Amy Landon

“White progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color”.

“To the degree that white progressives think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived”.

Robin DiAngelo “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to bad people”.

For me - this book was phenomenal!
The last couple of days it’s become a family affair ‘hot topic’.( Paul, me, Ali, Adam)....
a topic we are committed to continue having.... with a deeper commitment to be a stand for black lives matter.

Personal things I looked at:
....a willingness to look at every ounce of bias and prejudice I had.
....I looked at my inner voice over-time... and ways it’s changed through listening - education- and a willingness to ‘stay open’.
....my preferences in marriage.... marrying ‘white’ rather than black.
I looked at my prejudices straight on. Remorseful for ways I thought.
....reasons I preferred our daughters marry Jewish. Also remorseful for ways I thought.
.....reasons why the school busing was a problem to me years ago, so instead, sent our daughters to private schools. (which only segregated our daughters more from black people)....
....I looked at my own racism....( not a picnic to acknowledge I am part of the racial problems),
....not my intention to be racist - but I’ve had thoughts that I was glad I was born white. Its an uncomfortable topic .... but willing to look at the good, bad, and ugly inner thoughts I have.
....I want to have more racial conversations with my black friends.
....In school -I never took a class about racial diversity.... but the time has come!!!
....I looked at messages passed on to me as a child...
is being white superior than people of color?

Conversations from this book will continue....
....issues about.....
...Racial reform,
...Unexamined beliefs,
...How I might help with unity associated with racial equality as a white woman.
...what other history - I might continue to read?

This book has been a great support and inspiration to speaking openly about race -without resistance.

....”White Fragility”, is a wake up call; a call for action.

Black lives DO MATTER!!!!

Valuable - engaging - thought provoking - difference making -
Terrific discussion book!
Terrific book.

There are numerous wonderful book reviews on Goodreads!!! Moving as can be!!!
Profile Image for Candi.
614 reviews4,638 followers
July 15, 2020
“I repeat: stopping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others that we don’t have them. We do have them, and people of color already know we have them; our efforts to prove otherwise are not convincing. An honest accounting of these patterns is no small task given the power of white fragility and white solidarity, but it is necessary.”

This is going to be a rambling sort of stream-of-consciousness style review à la Virginia Woolf (minus all the finesse!) I just want to set down in words what has weighed heavy on my mind. This book was a wake-up call and has been in my thoughts every day since I finished reading it. I want it to stay in my head every day. I want the discomfort I felt while reading it not to go away as I do with most things that are distressing. Instead, I want to remind myself of it each morning I climb out of my bed in my privileged white neighborhood in my primarily white suburban American hometown.

“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.”

These are the words I repeat to myself. I have moved beyond feeling defensive about this fact. Defensiveness really gets you nowhere in any sort of discussion. It shifts the focus from the real problem to something else entirely, and I don’t want to make that misstep any longer. I always felt I was a ‘good’ person. I taught my children the ‘right’ things. I didn’t need to examine myself too deeply because I didn’t think I was doing anything wrong. I thought to myself, “I’m not a racist.” Yes, I confused the term with what I thought to be only acts of violence and hatred and prejudice.

“… we are taught to think about racism only as discrete acts committed by individual people, rather than as a complex, interconnected system.”

“When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intentions or self-images of individual actors.”

As the title suggests, this book examines why white people are often difficult to engage in discussions about racism. And with this as the goal, I think it explains these reasons very effectively. I, for one, learned quite a lot about why I’ve never had sustained, meaningful talks with any of my acquaintances about racism. For the most part, we probably imagined ourselves exempt, as we were ‘not part of the problem’. How wrong we were. Now my job is to determine what to do about this next. Reading this book is a beginning but it is most certainly not an end. It needs to be a long journey in order to make it worthwhile.

“Naming white supremacy changes the conversation in two key ways: It makes the system visible and shifts the locus of change onto white people, where it belongs.”

“… my silence is not benign because it protects and maintains the racial hierarchy and my place within it.”

I’ve been having conversations about this book and about racism in general with both family members and some friends over the past couple of weeks or more. Other than with my children, I have run into exactly those obstacles author Robin DiAngelo illustrates here. While my son and daughter will sit patiently and listen openly without defensiveness, I have not found this to be the case with the majority of the adults in my life. It truly is difficult to have a purposeful discussion where the focus is on the critical issue at hand rather than the individual’s attempts to rationalize his or her own behavior. No one really wants to look too long in the mirror without making some argument as to why the mirror is not reflecting the perfect image they are seeking. One needs to take a look, admit it is indeed not the ideal reflection, then step away from the mirror and shift the focus to the real problem at hand. Set aside the guilt and self-pity and move forward.

“If you believe that you are being told you are a bad person, all your energy is likely to go toward denying this possibility and invalidating the messenger rather than trying to understand why what you’ve said or done is hurtful.”

“Get over yourself and move on” are the words I said when I looked in the mirror, and I think we would all do well to do the same. So, what is the next step? DiAngelo doesn’t necessarily delve into this too much. I don’t think it was the point of the book. To me this was a springboard of sorts. It’s a knock over your head, a kick in the seat of your pants. It’s now time for further education and reading as well as continued attempts at earnest conversations. After that, well, action and involvement in some helpful way seem to me the next obvious leg of the journey. While the message is a clear 5 stars for me, I found parts of this slightly repetitive, therefore my rating is landing on 4 stars. It’s an important book that I will urge my acquaintances and loved ones to read.

“We bring our racial histories with us, and contrary to the ideology of individualism, we represent our groups and those who have come before us.”

“… we must break the silence about race and racism with other white people.”

“Racism hurts (even kills) people of color 24-7. Interrupting it is more important than my feelings, ego, or self-image.”

“Many people of color are committed to teaching whites about racism (on their own terms) and have been offering this information to us for decades, if not centuries.”

“Interrupting racism takes courage and intentionality; the interruption is by definition not passive or complacent.”
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,817 followers
March 28, 2021
The attitudes and emotions behind this book have caused more damage and division than healing. I think the title might better be, "Guilt of Left Wing Academics".

Blacks and whites (and Asians and Native Americans and everybody else) are all human. If we keep fanning the hurts and hates of the past we may as well all resign ourselves to being like the middle east still killing each other over wrongs from 4000 years ago.

My black friends and my brown friends and (again) everybody else are simply, "my friends".
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,412 followers
August 3, 2018
The provocative title of this book is a draw. What are we doing, saying, thinking that is unconscious and yet still brings out some kind of anger or fear response in us when challenged? I am constantly learning how much I don’t know about race in America and much more there is to know. DiAngelo is also white, by the way. She, too, makes racist mistakes, though more rarely now, even years after immersing herself in how it manifests. We can’t escape it. We have to acknowledge it.

That is basically what this book is about. How we must acknowledge our race, that we do in fact see race, that we make assumptions about people based on race, how we need to disrupt habitual patterns of interaction, and then consciously try to put ourselves in the way of disrupting the patterns of racism which are literally claiming the lives of too many people of color for reasons we would never recognize as legitimate in our own lives. It’s been—give or take—one hundred and fifty years since the Civil War. Sometimes it feels as it hasn’t been won by anti-slavers. Shame on us.

The first part of the book is a slow and careful baby-steps leading to a hot-button topic, giving readers/listeners time to blow off their indignation and stop being surprised that yes, she is going to talk about white supremacy in American life and how this consistently sidelines the needs, emotions, and opportunities of people of color. She is going to talk about the ways white people consistently deny this truth, do not recognize it applies to all white people, all of whom benefit from the system as it operates in the United States. But the best part comes at the end, when she cites people like me who have said, "Yeah, but I know this already," or "But I’m not racist," or "I have friends who are black," or "I’ve lived overseas," etc.

DiAngelo talks about white solidarity:
"The unspoken agreement among white to protect white advantage and not cause another white person to feel racial discomfort by confronting them when they say or do something racially problematic…Why speaking up about racism would ruin the ambiance [at the dinner table or in a social situation] or threaten our career advancement is something we might want to talk about."
"meritocracy is a precious ideology in the United States, but neighborhoods and schools are demonstrably not equal; they are separate and unequal."
"We are taught we lose nothing of value through racial segregation."
Racism is systemic, institutional, omnipresent, and epistemologically embedded in our reality, according to filmmaker Omowale Akintunde. It is not like murder: we don't have to "commit it" for it to happen. It can be unconscious.

The best argument I have ever heard for why we falsely assume racism doesn’t exist when we don't mean to do something racist is this: a woman married to a man would never say, "Because I am married to a man, I have a gender-free life." Even a married woman will carry prejudices with her about men. Di Angelo insists we do not set up a false binary: racism is bad, non-racists are good. It is probably better to think of ourselves on a continuum. With effort, we can improve our understanding but because the system operates without our consent, we will never escape it.

We are reminded that the white identity needs black people in order to exist. Around blackness we have created certain myths (about dangerousness, laziness, etc) which we may have thought we’d eradicated until some stray incident makes them come flooding back to consciousness. Whiteness is then a false identity, of superiority. A black person who steps out of their ‘place’ and demands to be treated equally, as in sports stars or popular singers, may trigger a backlash. DiAngelo gives a brilliant exegesis of the book/movie The Blind Side about a poor black high school football player adopted by a rich white family, and how it perpetrates dominant white ideologies. That book came out to great acclaim only in 2007. It seems like a lifetime since then, but it is only ten years.

Race and racism are emotional subjects. We may discover the ways whites have perpetrated a system of injustice against people of color out of ignorance, but ignorance is no longer a good excuse. We have work to do disrupting what we see as race bias in America today, making sure our kids are educated in a way that improves their understanding of conscious/unconscious race bias, and making sure they understand their lives will be deficient without interaction with and understanding of black lives.

We must work to widen our circles so that people of color are a part of our worldview, always remembering we are doing this for ourselves, not for the benefit of people of color. We are not being generous; we are seeking justice. Ask for feedback, but don’t be overly sensitive when people respond. Feedback is useful. Make sure to keep the focus on learning, not on one’s own fragility. And remember, one doesn’t have to intend to be racist to act in a racist way. It’s the water we swim in.

I listened to the audio of this, narrated by Amy Landon, and had access to a paper copy. DiAngelo gives a terrific short ‘Continuing Ed’ bibliography in the back, sharing other excellent titles. There are sure to be a couple of articles or books or podcast you still haven’t seen. There was only one book I admired that I did not see listed there: Good White People by Shannon Sullivan, out of the University of North Carolina. DiAngelo makes note of the terrific podcast, Seeing White, put together by a team headed by John Biewen out of Duke University. All of it is worthwhile.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,286 reviews2,205 followers
July 20, 2020
I’ve had this book on my kindle for over a month now, knowing that it was an important book to read, but I put it off. Why? Maybe because I was afraid of facing my “white fragility” or worse yet finding out I was a racist. The civil rights giant John Lewis passed away a couple of days ago. After reading a number of tributes profiling his life of courage and strength, a life dedicated to righting injustices against black peopIe, I decided it was time.

Perched on my couch in my house in a predominantly white suburb, I watch the protests in the streets of our country. I sit here and applaud Black Lives Matter. I yell at the tv when I see the incidents where black men and women have the police called on them for entering their own apartments, or swimming in their own pools, for just living their lives and for sometimes getting killed because they are black. My heart breaks for those who suffer these discriminations. I tell myself and others that I’m not a racist. Not so fast. Could my emotional response be just “my white tears” ? God I hope not! Because for me feeling and caring is part of the equation. “I was taught to treat everyone the same .” So I’m not racist. Not so fast. If I say “Race has nothing to do with it. I’m not racist - right ? Not so fast. “I have friends who are black.” That makes me not racist - right ? Not so fast.

Robin DiAngelo challenges white people on what racism and white supremacy mean. These are not just overt acts that many of us find atrocious, but the systematic racism that most of us ignore because we think these individual acts that are so abhorrent and are committed only by really terrible people is what racism is. I was particularly struck by these things she lists that I knew on some level, but never really thought about or talked about with anyone. These are just some of the statistics she lists (p 31 - 32) from 2016-2017, an eye opener for most white people on what white supremacy looks like:

* Ten richest Americans: 100 percent white (seven of whom are among the ten richest in the world)
* US. Congress: 90 percent white
* US governors : 96 percent white
* Top military advisors : 100 percent white
* People who decide which TV shows we see : 93 percent white
* People who decide which books we read : 90 percent white
* People who decide which news is covered: 85 percent white
* Teachers : 82 percent white
* And more

I have to admit I’m a little leery about being critical of the book in any way because it’s an extremely important book . But I have to say in all honesty, that I don’t see Black History Month in the same way as she does. DiAngelo thinks that Black History Month reflects the idea “that racism in the United States can operate outside white people is reinforced through celebrations such as Black History Month, in which we study the Civil War and civil rights eras as if they occurred separately from all US history.” I’ve always felt that it emphasizes that these are very much a part of our history and need to be recognized as such. Having said that, I saw her analysis as a first step of thinking in a different way, of looking into ourselves even though it’s uncomfortable. It was not easy to read knowing that I am part of the problem. I highly recommend this book. Although she warns us not to depend on people of color for “our racial education”, I am compelled to read some James Baldwin and Ta-Nehisi Coates and Ibram Kendi.
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books550 followers
July 21, 2021
I want to preface this review by saying, despite some points I read critically, I do think White Fragility is a thought provoking book. Do I think it's perfect? No. Do I think a white woman, even one who has studied racial inequities with intense devotion, could illustrate the depth of the societal rot that is racism? No. But it's a start, and that is something.

I wrote down all these notes that I made while reading White Fragility, but then I came across this article, and the author puts it more succinctly than I could have (https://theweek.com/articles/921623/l...). While this book is thought provoking, it is also lacking in certain fundamental ways. I recommend reading it, because it certainly made me think, but the more I did, the more I felt frustrated with DiAngelo and felt she veered into "white savior territory". She, being a white woman, offers vast and generalized criticisms and observations, but very limited solutions. This becomes especially evident when she repeatedly emphasizes how unresponsive people in her workshops are when she tells them they're all racists and how ineffective thus her methods seem to be. I thought a lot about this, wondering if I am being defensive, but I don't think that's where my issue with this book comes from. Like so many others, shaken by racial inequity and violence that seems to have become a norm, I am finally taking the overdue step of trying to learn more, of trying to listen and have conversations about an issue, so insidious in this society, that we think it is better to just pretend it doesn't exist. One statement that did really resonate with me in this book was the following, "One cannot change what one refuses to see". I want to move forward with my eyes open. This book did not offer everything I hoped it would, but it is perhaps a start. I would highly recommend Chokehold by Paul Butler, which, though I am only halfway through, has already taught me so much more about systemic racism in this country and how one might consider addressing it at all levels.
If you disagree with my assessment of the book, I would welcome discussion, but let's do so respectfully.

Find my book reviews and more at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,236 reviews26.6k followers
June 10, 2020
It's been a few days since I finished this book, and I've been thinking about it so much. I love listening to nonfiction audiobooks and it's recently come to my attention that I haven't read any audiobooks that specifically deal with race and white privilege. This book was a very educational experience for me because before reading this book I had never even heard the term 'white fragility'. This book had so many powerful quotes that I will leave below:

“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?"

“The key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort. We can use it as a door out—blame the messenger and disregard the message. Or we can use it as a door in by asking, Why does this unsettle me? What would it mean for me if this were true?”

“The simplistic idea that racism is limited to individual intentional acts committed by unkind people is at the root of virtually all white defensiveness on this topic.”

"- Ten richest Americans: 100 percent white (seven of whom are among the ten richest in the world)
- US Congress: 90 percent white
- US governors: 96 percent white
- Top military advisers: 100 percent white
- President and vice president: 100 percent white
- US House Freedom Caucus: 99 percent white
- Current US presidential cabinet: 91 percent white
- People who decide which TV shows we see: 93 percent white
- People who decide which books we read: 90 percent white
- People who decide which news is covered: 85 percent white
- People who decide which music is produced: 95 percent white
- People who directed the one hundred top-grossing films of all time, worldwide: 95 percent white
- Teachers: 82 percent white
- Full-time college professors: 84 percent white
- Owners of men’s professional football teams: 97 percent white

The groups listed above are the most powerful in the country. These numbers are not a matter of “good people” versus “bad people.” They represent power and control by a racial group that is in the position to disseminate and protect its own self-image, worldview, and interests across the entire society.”

I will never know what it is like to live in America as a Black person, but the best I can do is educate myself and be a better ally and I feel like this book has opened my eyes to so many things I never considered before. I think this book is a great first step and it will be the first of many nonfiction books that focus on racism that I plan to read soon.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,050 followers
May 27, 2019
I've spent the last month discussing this book in a Goodreads group. While the book is only 169 pages, it was helpful to proceed slowly and really talk about the points DiAngelo was trying to make, working past the defensiveness. I feel like it should be required reading for all white people. DiAngelo ends the book with very practical ideas that I found very useful.


-The concept of belonging and how central it is to whiteness, more of an assumption

"If you believe that you are being told you are a bad person, all your energy is likely to go toward denying this possibility and invalidating the messenger rather than trying to understand why what you've said or done is hurtful. You will probably respond with white fragility. But unfortunately, white fragility can only protect the problematic behavior you feel so defensive about; it does not demonstrate that you are an open person who has no problematic racial behavior."

-White fragility as bullying
-White women's tears as a special form of white fragility

"...Stopping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others we don't have them. We do have them, and people of color already know we have them; our efforts to prove otherwise are not convincing. An honest accounting of these patterns is no small task given the power of white fragility and white solidarity, but it is necessary."

- The list of assumptions on pages 142-3 are helpful, that if we can agree on those we are starting from a better place and maybe that helps remove some of the defensiveness.

-I appreciated her modeling of how to receive feedback.
Profile Image for Andy.
1,377 reviews465 followers
June 20, 2021
Racism is a problem and so it's good to talk about it as opposed to ignoring it. The author declares in the title that this is hard for white people to do. So the potential plus-value of the book is the author's method of white-people-engagement. Unfortunately, I have misgivings about that.

I had enough of her approach at the point where she gloated more than once about making someone leave her course because she upset them so much. I don't get that. I teach about race and racism (e.g. health disparities) but I don't take it as a positive if people run out of the room in a huff and never want to hear from me again. I go by "If the learner didn't learn, the teacher didn't teach." For the author though, when people run away from her, that is proof of their "white fragility" and of her correctness. This seems like self-righteous watertight circular reasoning. Maybe somewhere the author showed objective evidence of how her approach does more good than harm; if so I missed it.

People are different, but I would imagine that going to the traveling museum exhibit called "RACE: Are we so different?" (https://understandingrace.org/Resources) would be much much more useful for more people than this type of White Fragility workshop.

Consequences of structural racism in the US are massive. The trivial and not clearly racist affronts (e.g. white lady who talks over everyone) discussed in the book can distract from the big picture. I think there are better books to read about structural racism and what to try to do about it, or how to start talking about it:

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi How to Be an Antiracist
The New Jim Crow Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow an organizing guide by Daniel Hunter Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: an organizing guide
Biased Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do by Jennifer L. Eberhardt Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do
Profile Image for Warda.
1,153 reviews18.4k followers
June 20, 2020
“White fragility is not weakness per se. In fact, it is a powerful means of white racial control and the protection of white advantage.”

Should I just regurgitate the message that every white person needs to read this?

Yeah. I think I will.

And some aspects of this fragility can also nicely extend to POC communities.
Profile Image for Courtney.
18 reviews
June 8, 2020
I nearly returned this book. I had purchased the audiobook from Audible, and I found the tone to be dry, dull, and schoolmarmish. If I was to picture Robin DiAngelo, it would be my middle school librarian, wagging her finger at me. I had this reaction despite knowing what tone policing is. Despite consciously being aware that it is a common response for white people to focus on the method of information delivery over the actual information being delivered, and to prioritize their comfort over the message, this was still my immediate reaction. That is the strength of white fragility in a nutshell.

My immediate reaction was that I did not need this book: I understand that to say you’re “colorblind” is neither helpful nor in any way actually possible. I understand that race influences every aspect of the everyday experiences of people of color, and that as white people, we are responsible to not only be allies but actually to be active proponents and advocates of change. My initial intention in choosing to read the book was to learn how to better navigate conversations about race with more conservative white acquaintances, and out of interest because race in America is something I grapple with personally as I have interrogated my own behavior as a white liberal woman, such as why I would take the time to march for women’s rights but not for POC.

I listened to part of the audiobook with my mother in the car. She actually said one of the exact things that DiAngelo calls out as a way we as white people deny responsibility for engagement in race dialogue: “I’ve lived in Hawaii, so I know what it feels like to be a minority.” She votes Democrat. She was part of the civil rights movement in the 60s. She makes annual donations to nonprofits that support these causes. She told me to turn the book off and put on NPR.

However, I’m so glad I didn’t return this book. I’m so glad I stayed with it, all the way to the end, because DiAngelo’s primary argument is compelling: racism is a system that permeates our society, and that by being a part of that society, white people are inherently going to be racist. We’re going to say things and do unacceptable things that within the context of this racially charged environment, within the historical context of oppression and slavery and racial dominance, even despite the fact that some of us may have the best intentions. She argues that intentions don’t matter, it’s actions that matter, and when these missteps happen, we have learned that being “racist” is such a bad thing, that it’s very hard to hear and understand and correct for that behavior, when in fact that is exactly the thing we should be doing, to strive to be better.

These are strong words, and a strong message. DiAngelo’s primary statement is compelling, and important.

There are some aspects of the book that I found could be stronger: as I mentioned, the tone and delivery at times seemed off. I realize this is a difficult subject matter, and perhaps no tone would have won over all readers, but for me the tone used was probably the worst possible of all choices.

Additionally, DiAngelo relies heavily on her anecdotes and experiences as a corporate consultant and trainer on diversity in the workplace. Although this is certainly the basis of her experience, I found this central focus of the book to be myopic. DiAngelo’s message is much bigger than any one career path or set of racial awareness and inclusion trainings. By focusing on these examples, she does herself a disservice by pigeonholing her message unnecessarily. I also found this focus monotonous after several examples.

Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, I noticed that DiAngelo as a white person would occasionally interject quotes from POC (Ta Nehesi Coates, Ijeoma Oluo, amongst others, which in themselves I would consider to be mandatory reading), however I also noticed that there was only one instance where she actually asked a POC for her perspective and interpretation and feelings with regards to an incident being described. How can you write an entire book about white people’s fragility regarding race relations while nearly erasing the experience of POC? I consider this choice to be highly problematic. One cannot discuss white fragility without discussing the impact of white fragility on the experience of POC, and that impact cannot be an assumed impact: there needs to be the respect and the place for people to tell their own experience.

It is this final omission that is the primary reason that I am not rating this book higher. DiAngelo’s message is compelling, and I am grateful for the way she has helped me to re-think my engagement in the race dialogue and actions as a white person. However, I ended the book thinking that readers might still be better served by actually reading one of the books by POC that she quotes.
Profile Image for Scott Freeman.
229 reviews26 followers
April 19, 2018
This should be mandatory reading for all white people. Truly important.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,971 followers
June 7, 2020
This is an important book to read if you're white and you care. I can't put it more plainly than that.

But this is also, by no means, an easy book to get through. Indeed, it challenges every reader to look at themselves from a different perspective. NOT as a person of color would see a white person.

It's important to stress that this is NOT a book about taking on personal blame, about being a self-hating white person, but about seeing the racial question from a systemic and broader viewpoint. It's about power. It's about being the dominant power in any cultural equation.

By this definition, because I am white, and have benefited knowingly or unknowingly by many, many institutional benefits, I must NOT be a jerk about it. That means I must not deflect or get defensive or shrug off the problem as if it doesn't touch me at all. Because it does.

The white person who writes this makes very excellent points throughout the book. She's heard every excuse. The point is: we all have to actually LISTEN to what others are SAYING. If someone tells you they're hurt by something you said, knowingly or unknowingly, then it's not up to THEM to coax you out of your fragile shell and tell you everything is going to be all right. It's up to you to be a f***ing grown-up and own it if you've made someone uncomfortable.

I'm not talking about going overboard on political correctness or pandering to anyone. I'm talking about real relationships with real people. If you actually care, get over your own hangups and LISTEN. It's not hard. Just realize that the institutional racism is everywhere and we've all be steeped in it for so damn long.

It means acknowledging that we might be wrong.

That's what white fragility is NOT. When we lash out or start crying or complain that we're not that way or that we're good people and that we've never done anything to hurt anyone, IT MIGHT VERY WELL BE TRUE. But that's NOT the POINT. Saying any of that changes NOTHING.

If we want to move forward, we must listen in a give-and-take way AS IF THE PEOPLE WE'RE TALKING TO ARE REAL PEOPLE. *gasp* *shock*

If you're white, you need to grow a backbone. Be resilient. Stop being a dick. Take criticism and use your critical thinking skills as if you actually got a good education in a well-funded system and you haven't been surrounded by nasty, subtle, and pernicious racist ideas all your life.

The definition IS important. I am a product of racism. That means I'm a racist. It doesn't mean I'm not also a good person, because I am. (But that doesn't matter.)

It doesn't mean I must start becoming a self-hating white person. It means I must be AWARE of my world and own up to the s**t that I might do that makes the world a worse place to live.

I officially welcome criticism. I'm not a special snowflake. I promise to use my head. This is not a request to start abusing me -- but beyond that, it is a proclamation that I absolutely refuse to abuse anyone else.

This is not to say I will not make mistakes, but damn... I will OWN them. I will make it good. I will listen.
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