Dear White Fragility,
I can understand your popularity after listening to you. I can see both sides: The people who enjoyed you and the ones who didn’t. While you may not be for everyone, I personally enjoyed our time together.
P.S. Book Details
Author: Robin DiAngelo
Book Length: 154 pages
Book Genre: Nonfiction
Publication Date: June 2018
Synopsis: The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.
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.
This book confronts a lot of privilege. Aptly named White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo bravely approaches a conversation most people actively avoid. Confrontation is not something I am great at (or seek out), so I appreciate how DiAngelo articulates conversations surrounding racism as a lifelong journey of growth. Her writing is direct and concise, which makes it accessible to the general public.
When I was getting my degree, part of our program were some diversity courses, and we discussed many of the same topics spoken about in the book. DiAngelo’s book was recommended reading. I don’t love being told what to read, so often when I am told to read something, it will take a while for me to get to it.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding White Fragility, from the name to the content. One critique was readers coming in with no prior knowledge may struggle to understand the content. Since I have spent some time discussing this book and topic with others in an academic setting, the words and concepts were not entirely new to me. But, I can see the validity of the critique after I read it. Many other critiques are surrounding the emotions that rose up when reading the book. Readers have often recoiled when DiAngelo calls out certain behaviors, like “white woman tears”. Basically, when a person of color is sharing a personal story and a listener (usually a woman) cries. The tears pull the attention to the crier, rather than the person sharing their story. This article explains it better… and in more words.
All in all, I think this book can contribute to an interested persons understanding of race in the United States. I do not recommend going into this book expecting “one and done/fix it all” solutions to racism, you will leave disappointed. This is one educational resource in the bigger scheme of personal exploration. Race is a difficult topic, especially in this cultural moment, yet it is also an important topic.