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

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  5,323 ratings  ·  1,064 reviews
Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and 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 s
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Published 2018 by Beacon Press
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Abi Inman If you read the book, she answers this question! Here's an edited explanation from another question:

One of the first things DiAngelo addresses in the…more
If you read the book, she answers this question! Here's an edited explanation from another question:

One of the first things DiAngelo addresses in the book is that she's using the term "racist" the way the scholarly community around race issues uses it, not the way it's used colloquially. Being racist is not the same as making an assumption about someone based on race. Racism is only racism when it has institutional power behind it. When pointing out the defense systems of white people, DiAngelo a) is not having any effect on their safety or success and b) is not coming at them from an uneven place of institutional power. Therefore she is not being racist. You could say she's making an assumption about you based on your race, and that's certainly true! But the assumption she's making about your socialized habits could not be more different from the centuries of entrenched degradation, violence, and exploitation of people of color.

You should try giving the book a read! I can't explain this nearly as articulately as DiAngelo does, but I really think it would clear up this question for you.(less)

Community Reviews

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Aaron Akbar
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book raises striking and specific points about how as whites we have biases toward race while pretending we are colorblind. She states specific examples, and outlays practical way forward.

Most of the lower star ratings of this book seem to be exhibiting the exact fragility she outlines, and really only prove to drive her point home further.
Even more, they seem to ignore the very clear outlining in the book of difference between personal and systemic racism. That the way forward is to stop t
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Lois
This book is written by a white person for other whites.
Most of what she writes is common sense but no doubt useful for white folks struggling to not feel attacked when racism is discussed.
I was annoyed at a remark about 25% in where she points out that she isn't a fan of black history month or black firsts. Sigh, sigh, sigh. Her opinion on what black folks create for themselves is irrelevant, racially insensitive and out of pocket. I agree with her that black firsts should be presented as final
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Trish
The provocative title of this book is a draw. What are we doing, saying, thinking that is unconscious and yet still brings out some kind of anger or fear response in us when challenged? I am constantly learning how much I don’t know about race in America and much more there is to know. DiAngelo is also white, by the way. She, too, makes racist mistakes, though more rarely now, even years after immersing herself in how it manifests. We can’t escape it. We have to acknowledge it.

That is basically
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Jack Heller
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book will cut you, white person, no slack. If you think you're progressive about race--and most white people think they are--you will be confronted by this book. It's not aimed at Klansmembers. It's aimed at the people who don't recognize where they fall short. That's me. It's probably you too.
Andre
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robin DiAngelo comes hard in this one and takes no prisoners. There are going to be many hurt feelings for those willing and courageous enough to delve into this examination of White Fragility.

“This book is unapologetically rooted in identity politics. I am white and am addressing a common white dynamic. I am mainly writing to a white audience; when I use the terms us and we, I am referring to the white collective.”

White Fragility is conceptualized as responses to conversations around race. Si
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lady victoriana
I'm undecided as to how to rate this book. On the one hand, it's a fantastic first step for folks just becoming aware of racism. But personally, as a POC who has been engaging with these concepts for years now, I found it very rudimentary. Which I can't really criticize it for! It's meant to be rudimentary! But it meant that my reading experience was both quick and a little dull. Which is no fault of the book. I will say that I was introduced to some sociological concepts that I hadn't been fami ...more
Scott Freeman
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
This should be mandatory reading for all white people. Truly important.
Paula W
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’m not giving this a low rating for the reason you think I am.

Seven or eight years ago, I read an essay about white fragility in a professional journal. It was only 17 pages long (3 of those pages were reference pages), but it opened my eyes to things I’ve never thought about. It was an amazing essay that explained why and how even non-racist white people continue to unknowingly perpetuate race issues. And how, when a discussion about it comes up, they have not been raised in an environment or
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CaseyTheCanadianLesbrarian
This short, focused book was a really fantastic learning experience for me! I appreciated how Diangelo integrated academic concepts while still keeping the book very accessible for non-academics.

I recognized a lot of my own reactions and those of other whites in discussions of race and racism in what Diangelo names "white fragility." Particularly salient pieces for me where her discussion of confusing safety with discomfort; the influence of the ideologies of colour blindness, individualism, an
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Courtney
I nearly returned this book. I had purchased the audiobook from Audible, and I found the tone to be dry, dull, and schoolmarmish. If I was to picture Robin DiAngelo, it would be my middle school librarian, wagging her finger at me. I had this reaction despite knowing what tone policing is. Despite consciously being aware that it is a common response for whites to focus on the method of information delivery over the actual information being delivered, and to prioritize their comfort over the mess ...more
Eric
Dec 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is absolute genius!

Let's start with a book (is it a book, really? Content and page count it's more a pamphlet) with a subtitle that dismisses any logical argument or counterpoint to the content of the pamphlet as being 'afraid to talk about' the subject. Let's then publish the pamphlet at a time when we're surrounded by white people who can't shut up about racism and are fighting tooth and nail over who can appear to be the most enlightened 'woke' white people. We'll finish the pamphlet by
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Adam Shields
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short Review: I have been reading widely about racial issues and history over the past several years. There are so many essential books about racial history or memoirs of minorities. The path to learning about the impact of racism is long, but fairly clear. It is hard not to find a good book about different aspects of slavery, jim crow, immigration bias, discrimination in the economy or education or the justice system, etc.

What I have found less of and I think is important are the books directly
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Misha
This is a powerful, essential book that encapsulates much of what DiAngelo has been cogently laying out in other articles and speeches. I appreciated having the thinking I have heard her articulate at events I have attended in one place. I am honored to host DiAngelo at my library for the release of this book.

Some incomplete notes from the end of the book (I should have been marking passages all along, but know I will read this again).

"White equilibrium is a cocoon of racial comfort, centrality,
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Mehrsa
Aug 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent. I read waking up white and really liked that one and the books have similar content, but this one is much more instructive about how to handle white fragility. I wish for every person--white and non-white to read this book
Lindsay Nixon
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
🤭😱🤭😱🤭😱 I thought I was well educated on white privilege/racism, but this book showed me how all the books I’ve read, and listening to experts and friends I’ve done, painted only a tiny corner of the issue. I believed I was already seeing the insidious nature of white supremacy, but wow 😮 White supremacy isn’t limited to the intentional, hateful acts of bigots and the KKK-types. Racism happens constantly, and most often incidentally, often by people who do not intend that outcome. Consider the im ...more
Donald Powell
Nov 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: other, anthropology
Compelling and transformative. This book is short but very meaty. The argument is irrefutable. The message is challenging, strident, internally consistent and intellectually honest. This is an organized and concise presentation of racism that anyone can read, track and understand. It is a book everyone should read, especially old white men, like me. I do not know if the author realizes it but many of the concepts, such as self inspection, making amends by admitting wrongs without explaining them ...more
Kate Olson
Jan 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I know that because I was socialized as white in a racism-based society, I have a racist worldview, deep racial bias, racist patterns, and investments in the racist system that has elevated me.” ~ Robin Diangelo in “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism”

REVIEW ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MY INSTAGRAM - @kate.olson.reads - all @ are Instagram
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ALL THE STARS. I could write pages about this book, but won’t. I still have too much to think about. I was spurred to pick th
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Holly
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book hungrily but haltingly because it was both nourishing and painful to read. According to Diangelo, discomfort is key to our growth and awareness, so I proceeded and tried to stay with the discomfort. I had to read and reread passages to absorb the magnitude of what she claimed. It is not a matter of if but when we perpetrate racism on people of color, and how will we respond? Her stories of white people reacting in anger and disbelief when they were told something they said was r ...more
Ellie
Dec 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book written by a white woman addressed to white readers who want to confront their own racism, the ways in which they have been socialized into a racist society and are, often unknowingly, complicit with it.

The title refers to the ways in which white people avoid conversations about race, taking refuge in silence, tears, confrontation, and a variety of other strategies that distract from the issue at hand. What the writer suggests is that the white person simply accept the feedback ab
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Cinda Craig
I found this book very disappointing. Any positive contribution to a conversation on black/white relations in America that she might have given are drowned out by comments such as these: “Our simplistic definition of racism— as intentional acts of discrimination committed by immoral individuals engenders a confidence that we are not part of the problem. The claims we offer up as evidence are implausible.” (The dictionary offers this definition of racism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differ ...more
Nate
Dec 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Due to the nature of this book, anything less than 5-stars from a white reader should probably be explained. Definitely worth reading and gave me a lot to think about. White fragility and knee-jerk defensiveness is definitely present in me and something to work on (for the rest of my life). The education continues.

My only knock is the book felt a little long, but seemed short in the area I most wanted guidance: application and best ways to respond that go beyond perpetuating white fragility. May
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Laura
Racism is a system where the burdens and benefits of life are distributed, in part, based on race. Racism is currently perpetuating itself, in part, through a common delusion that it is, instead, just a personal moral failing of certain people. When there is a suggestion that we are benefiting from or participating in this system of racism, many (most?) white people respond with outrage because that suggestion is tantamount to an accusation of wickedness. Since most of us are the heroes of our o ...more
Annie
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites


^^^That’s Robin DiAngelo blowing your mind.^^^

One of the best books I’ve read in the past year. At least. DiAngelo puts into words what I innately agree with, but struggled in the past (because of my white fragility, honestly) to articulate as directly as she does. This book was very exciting to read, and I hope will be a useful tool in continuing to confront and challenge my own racism.

One thing that especially resonated with me was the part where she pointed out that, yes, she is white, but b
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Jose
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
American whites need to read this. Right. Now.

If you got offended by NFL players kneeling at the National Anthem. If you think white people in the US are victims, then you need to read this book. It will be a tough pill to swallow, it will make you very uncomfortable, but if you value harsh truths over comforting lies then you gotta read it. If you are white, you will probably get mad, but you are not really that fragile, are you? You can get over it, take a deep breath and just read on.
MEH
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you're white, read this book. If you're white and don't think you need to read this book, read it twice. If you're a person of color, tell all your white friends to read this book. If you're a person of color who has no white friends, make some, and then tell them to read this book.
Rebecca
Dec 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Half a century after the Civil Rights movement, vast disparities exist between blacks and whites in America. First and foremost, these group inequalities are caused by deep, historical trauma created by white racism and racist policies aimed against black persons and black culture. If slavery and Jim Crow caused a gaping wound, Civil Rights stitched it up; but underneath the wound still festers. How does this wound – the entrenched inequities between blacks and whites in America – continue to ex ...more
Pavol Hardos
OMG, this book is awesome, I'd really wish everyone could read this. In fact, there are at least 5 people, from the top of my head, I would gladly force to read this (and I do mean force, if necessary, Ludovico technique style), and I am sure anyone reading it might come up with their own list.

Written so smoothly and accessibly it almost hurts, you can see these arguments have been painfully rehearsed, learned, & observed over the years of dealing with white fragility. This book is packed w
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Molly
Jul 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I could have easily read this book in record time, but I intentionally slowed my process several times so that I could fully take in everything presented. It's a rather slim book yet tightly edited to waste no time getting its point across:

this country is racist.

And it's not just the hateful people, not just the ones who openly despise other races and nationalities, not just the white supremacy groups. Sadly, it's the culture itself and, therefore, all of us. Even the good folks who woul
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Book
Jan 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: race, social-science
White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

“White Fragility” is a powerful book that explores why white Americans are socialized to keep silent on race issues and the difficulties in even having such discussions. Former tenured professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University and a lecturer at the University of Washington, Robin Diangelo provides readers with a candid discussion on white fragility and how it’s used to hold racism in
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Bob
Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
Summary: Explains white fragility, its sources, expressions, the challenge it poses to conversations about race, and a different way to engage.

You've been there. A conversation about race begins and quickly, tension settles in the room. You don't need a person of color to be present. The defensiveness is palpable and takes a variety of forms. For some the best defense is a good offense. In a conversation about the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement, someone pushes back and shifts th
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Goodreads Librari...: Pleas add page number 5 14 Feb 28, 2019 01:17AM  
Why One Star Ratings With No Comments? 5 115 Oct 07, 2018 02:43PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions 2 16 Jul 14, 2018 12:57AM  
Justice and Spiri...: Additional Resources & Questions: White Fragility 1 15 Jul 02, 2018 07:39AM  
Justice and Spiri...: Introduction to White Fragility 1 20 Jul 02, 2018 07:36AM  
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“It is white people’s responsibility to be less fragile; people of color don’t need to twist themselves into knots trying to navigate us as painlessly as possible.” 16 likes
“Racism is the norm rather than an aberration. Feedback is key to our ability to recognize and repair our inevitable and often unaware collusion. In recognition of this, I try to follow these guidelines: 1.   How, where, and when you give me feedback is irrelevant—it is the feedback I want and need. Understanding that it is hard to give, I will take it any way I can get it. From my position of social, cultural, and institutional white power and privilege, I am perfectly safe and I can handle it. If I cannot handle it, it’s on me to build my racial stamina. 2. Thank you. The above guidelines rest on the understanding that there is no face to save and the game is up; I know that I have blind spots and unconscious investments in racism. My investments are reinforced every day in mainstream society. I did not set this system up, but it does unfairly benefit me, I do use it to my advantage, and I am responsible for interrupting it. I need to work hard to change my role in this system, but I can’t do it alone. This understanding leads me to gratitude when others help me.” 9 likes
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