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What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy
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What Does It Mean to Be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  224 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
What does it mean to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless yet is deeply divided by race? In the face of pervasive racial inequality and segregation, most whites cannot answer that question.

Robin DiAngelo argues that a number of factors make this question difficult for whites: miseducation about what racism is; ideologies such as individualism and colorblin
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published May 30th 2012 by Peter Lang Inc., International Academic Publishers
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Mar 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best for: White people interested in antiracism work (so, hopefully, all white people, but I’m not that naive).

In a nutshell: Academic (and white person) Robin DiAngelo breaks down many of the problems white people have in confronting our own socialization in the racist reality we live in.

Line that sticks with me: “Because of white social, economic, and political power within a white supremacist culture, whites are in the position to legitimize people of color’s assertions of racism. Yet whites
This book took me a very long time to read, because I wanted to memorize every bit of it. My copy is underlined with numerous margin notes, and I posted excerpts on Facebook on a regular basis. I learned SO MUCH from reading this book. Any white person interested in doing their part to resist the culture of white supremacy will find this book a fabulous resource. I couldn't recommend it higher.
Tim Sergeant
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This wasn't a particularly quick or easy read, but it was definitely worthwhile.

Some things that I really liked:

* The book is designed for readers who (like me!) haven't thought deeply about racism in this way before. It makes really clear definition of racism very early on, then calls back to that very directly (in big boxes saying 'Remember!') throughout the remainder of the book. This hammers home the core idea really effectively.

* The book talks a lot about "socialization", which I've encoun
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing

Books can take a long time to read for a number of different reasons. This one took me a long time because its message was so strong and thought-provoking.

I am very glad for the day this book came across my desk. I realised after reading only a small way in, how important I thought it was for (particularly white) people to understand the issues discussed in it. So I tracked down and bought a copy (a tricky and expensive endeavour), because I hope to convince my friends to borrow and read it
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Provocative and well-written. Holds your hand through the basics, but chapters 11 on will cause the best kind of disquiet. What to do about the fact that people who should read this book most are the same ones that think they don't need it?
This book blew. my. mind. It is a powerful primer on racism and antiracist practice. It offers a clear and concise framework from which to think about these issues. It arms you with knowledge and advice. I don't often say this, but this should be required reading.

Here is a fraction of what I learned:

—Because white people don't feel the effects of their race, they are tricked into thinking we live in a post-race and post-racism society. Perhaps they will concede that things aren't perfect for peo
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best, most challenging and eye-opening books I have ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It took me a awhile to work my way through it simply because there's so much there. The writing is engaging and I feel like the author really takes the reader on a journey in unpacking what it means to be white, from defining some critical key concepts, to more advanced ideas about how to wrestle with racism. The author's humility and patient - yet determined - persistence with herself ...more
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: race
This book is phenomenal, one of the most helpful books I have ever read. I learned so much about racism, about the multitude of ways people think about race and racism, and about myself. Highly recommended.
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If only I could get all my friends to read this book... I have to adjust the other book ratings so five stars actually means something, like this book.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The summary: "My inability as a white person to see or understand racism is unrelated to its reality." The very best resource I've found to examine and unpack whiteness.
May 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017challenge
This is a must read book. Racism in America 101. This is one to come back to again.
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There is so much here there is no way for me to summarize but only validate the importance of reading this if you are white and working in equity, diversity and inclusion.

Great explanation of white privilege, white silence, and intersectionality.

If you are going into racial equity discussions, the section “A Note on White Silence” would help with understanding ensuing conversations and getting them started in the first place.

Best fundamental takeaway for me...”white people are not socialized to
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Alternatively titled (for me, at least): How to Talk to White People About Racism

Really didn’t wanna read this, but unfortunately I felt like I needed to given where I work and the people that surround me o. O

Got some great talking points next time people come at me with ignorant bullshit. More white people should read this but probably won’t because white fragility.
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, sociology
“I teach in an education program that is 97% white, and it is rare for me to have any students of color in my classes. Thus, this typical insistence that race doesn’t matter comes from white students sitting in an all-white classroom, who grew up in primarily white neighborhoods and attended primarily white schools, and are currently being taught by a virtually all-white faculty (including me). These racial realities testify to a society separated by race. Yet how do so many white people manage ...more
Miller Sherling
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Engrossing, humility-inducing, necessary. Chapter on "Patterns of Well-Intentioned White People" was cringe-inducing, because I can think of times I've engaged in every one of those behaviors. DiAngelo says racism is not our fault, AND because we benefit from it wheyther or not we want to, and it's harmful to people of color, it IS our responsibility to work against it. There is no passive anti-racism: it requires constant self-examination and awareness to interrupt our deeply ingrained and deep ...more
Aug 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a white man, I have had the luxury and privilege of not having to think about race or understand how it has shaped my life; it is something that "others" have. This book isn't a quick read, but it is so important in understanding what it means to be white in a society that pretends that race doesn't matter, but is deeply divided by race. If you are white and you recognize that racism is alive and well, this book is a critical one to read.
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cbr9
If you teach, you must read this book. Robin DiAngelo notes that most individuals who enter teacher education are white, came from white neighborhoods and were educated in white schools by white teachers. Increasingly, they teach a diverse plethora of students but have no concept how to talk about race in a productive manner. This book is the product of years of antiracist work on her part.

As a white woman who has for the last several years identified as an ally, I found this book helpful and in
Minjia Qiu
Oct 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Simple and straight forward dissection of the general race blindness of well meaning whites in America, and what it means in their relations with the rest of the groups. Deeply held American ideals of meritocracy, independence, self sufficiency, and above all individuality serves to undermine the ability of white america to see the racism embedded in the system that continues to serve privilege to a group that doesn't realize it. The author does a great job by slowly delving into this emotional ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In the wake of everything that's happened recently with BLM and Native Lives Matter, I read this book as a way to find more talking (and listening) points to people who are adamantly holding onto racist ideology -- and as a way of re-awakening my own self-awareness about my white privilege. I loved that this book was easy to read, with helpful "remember..." sections parsed out in each chapter highlighting especially important information, and the type of conclusions in each chapter that anyone w ...more
Fate's Lady
Jan 20, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is very, very much "whiteness 101". If you're just getting started with learning about racial tension and oppression, this is a good book for you. It even includes questions at the end of each chapter to prompt thought or discussion. For someone who has been actively learning these things, it's going to be extremely basic. I'm halfway through and this isn't just review, it's review of stuff I've learned faces in the past now. It's also amazingly expensive and only available in paperback.
Oct 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a white person, I've already accepted the fact that I have been socialized to white supremacy. This book helps me understand the dynamics of HOW that works. Helpful for my own growth and also should be helpful in discussing race with other white people.
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The best book I've seen so far on white culture and how it affects the ways in which white people relate to people of color. This is a must-read for everyone, but especially people who identify as white.
Dr. Raye of Sunshine
Oct 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
It took me fivever to get through this book because it's so deep and requires so much thought and reflection. This book will give you perspectives you probably have not considered before. It's a great read just very deep.
Megan Sanks
Dec 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Every white person should read this book if they haven't done antiracist work before.
Andrew Lightheart
Sep 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Systematic, practical guide to developing a white anti-racist practice. UK folk need to do a bit of extrapolating, but still very worthwhile.
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I grew up in a very white suburb of the Midwest. In the last few years, I began noticing I was missing something critical in conversations about race and racism, but I had no idea what. This book helped me identify some of it. I just finished my first read, and intend to turn around and read it again. I also met with a group of other readers every Thursday where we could discuss what we'd read and start working on improving our tolerance for racial discomfort.

The blinders that come with American
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book ought to be mandatory. I went into this book thinking I was well versed in handling conversations surrounding race and then realized I was very wrong. This book is a treasure and really did give me a lot to think about and reframe in my mind. I’ve had a good time sharing what I’ve learned from this book with my grade 6 students- we actually drew our glasses- frames and lenses-and spoke about how our intersectionality positions us in the world. Really terrific, jam packed, crucial book.
Morgan (Turbo)
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m a teacher at a hard to staff school. We started a white Educators for Equity and Social Justice group and this book was recommended reading. This is a great book for reflecting about the inherent racism in the system as well as lots of food for thought about how to counteract the racism and be open to communication. I definitely took a lot away from this book and will use it in future classes and staff meetings.
Andrew Fallows
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Without question the most important book I've read this year. If you are white, I recommend it very, very highly. And probably even if you aren't. But it's my experience that white people tend to be much more sheltered from thinking seriously about race than folks from other groups, so if you're not white you probably know a lot of this stuff already.
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read this for a book club and discussions on white fragility. It's very relevant to today's socio-political environment but really it's something people need to talk about openly for years to come.
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“There is a difference between agreement and understanding: When discussing complex social and institutional dynamics such as racism, consider whether "I don't agree" may actually mean "I don't understand.” 7 likes
“We have a deep interest in denying the forms of oppression which benefit us.” 5 likes
More quotes…