Book Review: White Fragility

This book was for me. And if you consider yourself a white progressive, it might just be for you too.

Affiliate links are used throughout this review.

I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color. I define a white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the “choir,” or already “gets it.” White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual antiracist practice.

White Fragility, pg. 5

Yep, White Fragility was for me. Written by a white woman, primarily for white people, Robin DiAngelo walks through all the reasons white folks give for being “not a racist” and helps us do better. She explains why “racist=bad/not a racist=good” thinking isn’t helpful, how not having any prejudice and bias is not possible, and why we must stop letting our (meaning white people’s) personal emotions and “but I (add experience here)” stories take over conversations about race.

And I admit, I’ve done just about all the things she describes as not being helpful. I’ve done them in the long ago past and in the recent past. While I have been on a personal antiracism journey for a few years now and have plenty of my own stories, what I really appreciate about White Fragility is the way DiAngelo uses real life examples from herself and her years of leading diversity training. She writes from personal experience and a well-researched point of view. And it made me think.

Unlike, Caste, this book ends with some helpful ways to move forward. Hint: it all comes from starting in the place of personal reflection and growth.

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.

White Fragility, pgs. 125-126

For Christian white people on an antiracism journey – just starting or somewhere along the way – these are the books I would recommend reading (and in this particular order):

I’m curious, if you’ve read this book, what did you think?

Published by Kris

Jesus follower, racing wife, mom of seven, United Methodist pastor... Trying to live a life worthy of my callings.

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