White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

As I sit to write this review, I’ll be honest, I am a bit anxious. But why? Why am I so hesitant? I really enjoyed this book. The book has a lot of truth. It has a lot authority and weight. It is interesting as I prepared to write this review, I can feel my white fragility. I am nearly paralyzed by fear; fear that I will say the wrong thing, fear that I will accidentally write something insensitive or prejudice without even knowing it. My gut reaction is to be overly vague and pleasant in hopes that my words are unmemorable. This is just a symptom of my fragility.

I am a white male. I have grown up in a culture that benefits white males basically because the culture was created by white males and it has been maintained by white males. Racism (and sexism) is built into the system. It is very difficult to see this from the white male perspective because it is so extensive, it is like recognizing your asleep while still asleep. Furthermore, white males do not see the racism around them because there is little reason to. White males do not benefit from recognizing racism and if they do recognize it, they don’t call it out because there are little to no immediate benefits in doing so.

For a rather short book, there is a lot in here. Even though I have tried to educate myself on diversity over the past dozen years or so, there is still a lot for me to learn. In the book, Robin Diangelo shares how white people typically respond to conversations on racism, and I am pretty sure I have employed each of these stereotypical white declarations from “everyone is equal, I don’t think about people in color” to “my black friend says…”

Even as I read this book, my defenses kept popping up suddenly. My gut would react unexpectedly and I would have to stop and let my brain catch up. I definitely had an internal struggle inside me, a struggle I am embarrassed to admit. I have to remind myself, that this internal struggle is a luxury, or at the very least, I am allowed to have this struggle in a comfortable environment. This is not a position many get to experience.

I think this is a great book. I highly recommend it.

Here are some valuable nuggets from this book.

“The decisions made at those tables affect the lives of those not at the tables. Exclusion by those at the table doesn’t depend on willful intent; we don’t have to intend to exclude for the results of our actions to be exclusion.”

“We come to understand who we are by understanding who we are not. But because of our society’s emphasis on individuality, many of us are unskilled at reflecting on our group memberships.”

“Setting aside your sense of uniqueness is a critical skill that will allow you to see the big picture of the society in which we live.”

“All humans have prejudice; we cannot avoid it…People who claim not to be prejudice are demonstrating a profound lack of self awareness.”