White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo
December 10, 2019 6:00 PM - by Robin DiAngelo - Subscribe

"White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress. Although white racial insulation is somewhat mediated by social class (with poor and working class urban whites being generally less racially insulated than suburban or rural whites), the larger social environment insulates and protects whites as a group through institutions, cultural representations, media, school textbooks, movies, advertising, and dominant discourses. Racial stress results from an interruption to what is racially familiar. In turn, whites are often at a loss for how to respond in constructive ways., as we have not had to build the cognitive or affective skills or develop the stamina that that would allow for constructive engagement across racial divides. leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This book explicates the dynamics of White Fragility and how we might build our capacity in the on-going work towards racial justice."

(The post content is from DiAngelo's website.)
posted by The corpse in the library (6 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I love the concept of White Fragility. I learned so much from this, and it's given me tools to stop doing some stupid shit I've done in the past.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:04 PM on December 10, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a book that, if you want to get the most out of it, I think you need to go back to it multiple times. Because getting all the concepts into your head and one goal is hard, but also because there are a lot of observations and insights that make more sense after you’ve taken them in and then observed things for a while.

The only downside is the audiobook narrator is really pretty terrible.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:03 AM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, especially as a white person -- because defensiveness is our first instinct, and so the book can be difficult to accept the first read-through. I'll give it another reading soon.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:36 AM on December 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Here is a video of the author reviewing some of the concepts discussed in the book.
posted by gemutlichkeit at 7:22 PM on December 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

The white woman tears chapter reared its head today at work, when the big big big boss gave a presentation about our organization’s progress on racial equity work and then talked about how The Hate We Give made her bawl on an airplane. Once you see the concepts outlined in the book, you can’t unsee it in your daily life.

I just wish there was a longer chapter on how to deal with entitled asshole old white suburban middle-class men, so I could try some conversational and/or coping techniques on my father to see if there’s any part of our relationship worth salvaging. Everything in this book is something he needs to take to heart, but he’s basically every hostile diversity training attendee described in the book.

I agree that it will take multiple readings to feel truly equipped to tackle white fragility head on.
posted by Maarika at 8:47 PM on December 13, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just wish there was a longer chapter on how to deal with entitled asshole old white suburban middle-class men
For that, you might want to look at So You Want to Talk About Race (previously on FanFare).
posted by expialidocious at 9:55 PM on December 17, 2019 [2 favorites]

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