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

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DiAngelo breaks down how white people become invested in their whiteness in many covert and overt ways. The result of this deeply composed but rarely addressed element to their identity is to resist and deny how much whiteness plays a role in their day-to-day lives and how they understand the world. Much like Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States, this book helps to unpack how racism (the system of power within a culture that privileges certain races over others--in the case of the US, whites over other people of color) exists in the day-to-day among white people and works in nuanced ways rather than traditional depictions of racism (think KKK, Alt-Right, etc). More importantly, she illustrates ways to identify it, address it, and develop the language to engage with it to both de-escalate the white fragility and anxiety but also to push the conversation into deeper understanding for white people. This is a fantastic book for someone (read: white people like myself) to better understand how our individual passivity around discussions about racism from the cultural dialogue all the way to the one-to-one interactions is a key factor in perpetuating racism in the many multi-layered ways that it works today. DiAngelo strives to help readers hear there are two key things white people need to understand if they want to adhere to not being as complicit in racism. 1. We are in a racialized system and therefore it is impossible not to commit racist acts, but that does not mean one is an overt KKK-card-carrying member. However, it does not let them off the hook for perpetuating racism--one can be a "good person" and still commit numerous racist acts; these are not mutually exclusive. 2. If one does believe themselves to be a good person, then it behooves them to listen to marginalized voices when they say that something is racist and seek to understand and address that issue; to do otherwise, is perpetuating racism. If you're looking for good ways to have meaningful discussions about racism with white people in ways that can elicit a meaningful response, this is a good book to check out.

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