Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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 has come up a few times at work lately, so I decided to check it out to see what it's all about.

Diangelo is a white woman who is an academic and lecturer on topics of racial and social justice.  She wrote White Fragility to show white people the defensive mechanisms they use to perpetuate racism.  White people (particularly in North America) are born into a racist society but are not taught how to engage in discussions of race.  So when they are challenged, they use certain defense mechanisms to effectively shut down the conversation and conserve the status quo.  In her time as a lecturer and consultant (Diangelo has given many workshops on white racism), she has seen the same behaviours again and again.  White Fragility serves to examine those behaviours, showing them to white people who may be completely unaware of them and their impacts, so everyone (white people and people of colour) can start having the difficult conversations that need to happen in order to create a more just society for all.

I admit, I was a little skeptical when I first took White Fragility out. But almost immediately I found it very interesting and informative.  White Fragility does specifically deal with people in America, so while her points are still pertinent to us here in Canada, I personally would have been more interested in seeing more illustrations of how things function here too (and not just specifically looking at the United States).  I was also a bit annoyed that through most of the book, Diangelo used examples from the workshops she has run because I would have liked to read a little more about her own personal struggles with addressing racism, too.  So I was happy to see that she turned more to herself in the final chapter.

All in all though, I think that this is a very important book that white people (particularly those living in North America) should read and consider (although it is by no means perfect, as I think this review on Goodreads by Pococurante does a good job pointing out).

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