Updated: Aug 3, 2020
Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
A thought-provoking and enlightening reading experience.
White Fragility is defined by author Robin DiAngelo as the reactions that white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these defensive reactions continue to maintain racial inequality. The defensiveness is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt. Behaviors include becoming argumentative, withdrawing from the situation or even crying. These behaviors function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. The book explores this dynamic and how and why it occurs.
The book is rooted in identity politics in the US, and discusses the challenges of talking to white people about racism, racism and white supremacy, the good/ bad binary, Anti-Blackness and white-woman tears.
DiAngelo is an American white women, an academic, a lecturer, and an 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.
“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.”
Reading WHITE FRAGILITY was an eye opening experience. It made me think about my own interactions, reactions and behaviors. Although at times unsettling, I highly recommend the book, because it’s a thought-provoking and enlightening experience.
You may even find yourself becoming defensive or uncomfortable when reading the book. Read it anyway! While you may not agree with everything in the book or like what you read. Read it anyway! it will be an awaking experience for many, regardless of your own personal thoughts and beliefs of racism. The author was able to clearly describe situations, based on her diversity training experiences, of the white defensiveness that precludes productive racial discussions. I have seen these reactions, we have all seen these reactions.
It is up to you to decide what speaks to your experiences and what does not, and in what context. Hopefully you will gain some insight as why people who identify as white have so much difficulty in discussions of race
“One cannot change what one refuses to see.”
Publisher Beacon Press
Published June 26, 2018
Narrated Amy Landon