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).

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Beat the Bank

My mom recommended that I give Larry Bates' Beat the Bank a read after she heard about it on Twitter.  I had it on hold at the library, but the book was super overdue so I thought it wasn't coming back and bought it on my Kindle.  The book did end up showing up, but I just sent it to the next person who had it on hold and read the version I bought on my Kindle.

Beat the Bank is very similar to a lot of the other books I've read on personal finance.  Bates recommends investing in low-cost index ETF's rather than the much higher cost mutual funds that Canadian banks offer.  The majority of the book was dedicated to showing just how much money you lose out to what he terms "Old Bay Street" (through the fees they charge that many investors don't really understand).  For that reason it's a very informative book.  But because I've already read several other books on personal finance, nothing that he said was really new to me.

That being said, I still enjoyed reading it.  I've found personal finance books to be rather interesting to read. In the case of Beat the Bank, because it's so modern, I enjoyed reading about his breakdown of "New Bay Street" - the robo investors and other tools that have popped up with much lower fees than traditional banks.  I also really liked that he walks you through the process of buying stocks and bonds; I don't remember any of the other books I've read actually doing that.  So Beat the Bank really is a great book for beginner investors. :)

(I'd also like to note that I spoke with someone else at the library who read Beat the Bank, and they really enjoyed it.  They said that for a book on financial planning and personal finance, it isn't boring at all, so I definitely think Beat the Bank is a great place to start for beginners and people who think financial books are boring!)

Oh, and I definitely liked Bates' brief discussion on financial plans.  It isn't a long discussion, but he talks about the importance of having some sort of target that you're aiming for.  Life changes and your target may change along with it, but sitting down and coming up with something that you're working towards is always a good plan.

So that was Beat the Bank.  I'm glad I read it, because even though I'm familiar with a lot of the things he mentions, I still learned some new things. :)  I think the next financial book I'm going to read is going to be A Random Walk Down Wall Street (that was recommended to me I think in one of the other books I read), but it's going to be a bit before I get to it!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway

A friend of mine was giving away free books and I took them because I really like books.  The free books ended up being self-help books, and I figured that after taking them I should probably read them.  So I started with Susan Jeffers' Feel the Fear...and Do It Anyway.

The premise of the book is that everyone feels fear when trying new things.  But successful people don't let that fear stop them - they feel the fear but do whatever it is anyway, learning and growing from the experiences. 

The first few chapters were great, following along with this premise.  The later ones started getting a bit harder to follow though, as the book moved away from talking about fear and more towards talking about your higher self.  I had a hard time getting through the book as a result (I almost didn't finish it just because I was really losing interest in it).  It was also a bit difficult to rate on Goodreads - originally I would have rated it higher than the rating I ended up deciding on.  It's too bad because the first few chapters were rather interesting.

I did take a few notes though from the book, so overall I don't regret reading it.