White Fragility

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Member Reviews

This book can be intense. DiAngelo is no nonsense and comes at you. This is SO needed though. Everyone should read this.
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Lately, I read a lot in order to be a better human. I am a white woman born into privilege and socialized into white supremacy (not the KKK kind, the basic everyday kind that this book addresses). These are facts I cannot help or change, but what I can do is work hard to better understand social and cultural experiences which are different from my own, without trying to deny it or to justify the role I may have played in it. This is humbling work, but necessary if we are truly going to change anything about the current social stratification problem. 

I definitely think this book is for every white person, and I also think that many will not be brave enough or aware enough to read it.
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I appreciate this book. I also highly recommend all people read this book to understand what racism truly is and understand his or her own role. Some people will feel this book is pointing fingers or being confrontational, but what this book points out is how people of color feel on a daily basis in white spaces. DiAngelo makes people confront themselves and their behaviors and actions or lack of. She also provides great advice in the later part of the book about owning and repairing racist behavior by giving an example of her own mishap with a coworker. Overall, I enjoyed the book and, again, recommend it for all to read with an open mind.
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I teach undergrads in human services and social sciences, so DiAngelo's book was not full of new information for me, but it was very well organized and clearly made to be as accessible as possible for white people that often have reasons to feel defensive when experiencing feedback, whether that is because they think of themselves as an aware ally or because they haven't had much exposure to thinking about US history and present dynamics of oppression and privilege or feel that with respect to other aspects of their identity, they are the oppressed ones. 

I'd love to get people reading this book, but I hope that when they do they have  others to talk with about it and process it. If it does evoke strong feelings, my advice would be take a break, but stick with the feelings and thoughts, by which I mean don't run for the playbook of rationalizations. For some of us this way of thinking is a real change, but as DiAngelo points out, it can help us who want to stop contributing to social oppression better walk the walk, instead of talking the talk while making sure nothing really changes.
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Robin DiAngelo takes on the task of problematizing the interactions between white people who do not consider themselves racists (and even people who consider themselves allies) and black people.  The intention of this problematizing is to illustrate that actions taken and words spoken without intending to be racist frequently are, and when confronted about this white fragility kicks in - people get defensive, cry, try to explain their intentions, etc.  DiAnglo tries to contextualize why white fragility is a problem and how to address it both internally and externally.  The trouble with this is that DiAngelo tries to do this in such a short and condensed book, that much of what is discussed is in generalities - and these generalities, unfortunately, lead to cognitive dissonance and for DiAngelo to contradict herself in applications of strategies.  With more analysis and granular investigation this may have been avoided.  Additionally, DiAngelo only briefly touches on the challenges of "channel switching" and spends no time analysis when multiple "channels" are on at the same time - what would have been useful and interesting is when racism/white fragility are being enacted at the same time #metoo type sexism and/or lgbtqi bigotry are.  This is not addressed and therefore leaves us guessing at engagement, prioritization, and even conflicting tactical implementations DiAngelo would recommend.  This book is frustrating in that there are no simple answers, actions, or steps - but that is the point - addressing white fragility is not simple, easy, or direct.  This book is highly recommended, but it will raise more questions, concerns, ideas, and conflicts than it actually addresses.
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The title of this book had me concerned that it would be confrontational. I also thought I might not be the target audience, and feared that it was written for an audience that wouldn't read it. I was wrong. It is an important book for white people who think they aren't racist to read. DiAngelo challenged me to reflect on racism in my life, and how it impacts those around me. DiAngelo clears up some common misconceptions on racism. She also reminds readers that racism isn't just present in hate groups, and that white privilege doesn't mean that white people never face difficulties. People who are more familiar with the current discourse on race may find that they are already familiar with concepts in the book.  

In the classroom, social studies and English teachers may find that excerpts of this book spark meaningful conversations about race.
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