White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism – by Robin DiAngelo – book review

Intense, difficult, and important. Awarded five stars on Goodreads.

I walk away from this book with two deeply disturbing truths:

  1. It is impossible to read this book without feeling deeply uncomfortable, IF you are a white American.
  2. The ingrained nature of racism in American society is so profound, that it will ONLY be addressed WHEN white people begin to acknowledge all the ways they benefit from white privilege.

Robin DiAngelo aptly builds her case, describing the pernicious ways racism lives inside ALL us white people (YES, ALL!) — without anger or personal blame. It is simply a function of growing up in this country.

She is calm and methodical in describing how our country has systematically and persistently barraged us with messages reenforcing white superiority. You will find her anecdotes all ring true, since we have all witnessed or, more likely, acted out similar behaviors. And YES, even those of us who may see themselves as liberal or progressive.

No doubt this is why, even recognizing and believing everything DiAngelo describes, I still found I had to take breaks while reading this book. I continually felt overwhelmed as I struggled to BEGIN to understand how big a problem racism truly is. And how reluctant white people are to see it the way it needs to be seen. Because the truth is, seeing it requires us all to recognize how OUR own lives will have to change if the United States is ever to build a more racially just society.

This is a heavy book to read, though only 150 pages long. Honestly, it leaves me feeling crushed by the weight of the work that is ahead. For ALL of us white people. But, at the same time, I feel eager to get started and make a difference.

Robin DiAngelo, PhD

No one in this country should graduate high school without reading this book. It shows our society and its attitudes toward race in a blunt but honest way. And offers a more compelling and potentially successful way forward than I’ve found in any other book on race.

More about the author.