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As a black woman I have to ask, why would a book from a self avowed racist have such a high rating?
That's like giving kudos to Mein Kampf.
Guess all the racists are giving this five stars.
read this as a mixed race woman, and all i can say is i don't want to survive , i want to thrive. the language in this book made me feel as if the basis of my survival is based on the notion that eventually white people will understand their fragility...i don't have time for that nonsense.
I would recommend to all who believe this book to be a landmark tome about racism and 'white privilege' to consider the views of the many black ppl who think it to be mostly drivel and in fact, a fundamentally racist outlook - both in it's 'soft bigotry of low expectations' and its Original Sin theory of all white ppl being essentially and irredeemably racist. The names include Coleman Hughes, John McWhorter, Glenn Loury, Wilfred Reilly, Chloe Valdary, Brittany King, Shelby Steele, Ian Rowe, Thomas Sowell, Michael Fortner, Thomas Chatterton Williams, Kmele Foster and MANY others. These folks are highly educated and most have studied the major issues of race at length. And many of them are NOT conservatives. Please do not surrender your critical faculties to white guilt and the poorly substantiated claims of the current type of anti racist ideology. Racism exists for sure but this book grossly exaggerates its current day effects and outlines a course of extreme fragility for black people and everlasting guilt for whites and thereby, it is insulting and infantilizing for both.
A good beginner's book but it felt repetitive at times. There were some topics I've already heard about but I learned some new things such as how to respond to something in the best way(s) possible if it was made known to me that I unknowingly said something insensitive or offensive. I plan to read some similar books written by BIPOC authors to learn more about how to be an ally and to have a better understanding of this subject. I wanted to do this before jumping in deeper from a BIPOC's perspective to prepare myself from hearing some difficult things.
P.S. I found it to be interesting to read some of the comments of upset or angry (white) readers. This is exactly what the author wrote about in her book for how we have a knee-jerk reaction whenever we talk about this subject. It's one thing to feel like this book wasn't great but it's an entirely different thing to be angry about it.
I absolutely recommend this to everyone but especially to my fellow white people. I think this is a great beginner novel into learning about systemic racism and how we all fit into that system and how white people benefit from it. A lot of the things mentioned this book were topics that I was already with familiar with but there were many topics that were delved into in a way that was brand new to me. There were so many things that I have thought about that I wasn't able to put into my own words when explaining it to others that this book really nailed down quite eloquently. 10/10 I think this is an important novel to read for a better understanding of our current social climate and on how to be a better ally.
Alternate title: "The Unbearable Whiteness of Being."
Let me explain to you what has happened, from a historical viewpoint. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, it was expected that Black people would elect their own representatives, the power of the courts would be used to enforce civil rights, and everyone would soon enter a state of equity. The elections and court orders have happened. We have busing, an end to discrimination in housing, and I don't know what all. But where is the equity? Everyone thinks that was promised to them, now where is it? Well, it hasn't happened. Clearly it stands to reason that someone has prevented it from happening, and a culprit must be found. That is the purpose of this book.
Great book. I think everyone should read it. All race, all ages, all genders, just everyone!
Thought-provoking. As a white woman, any comment I make is racist because, as a member of a privileged class, I cannot comment except from a racist perspective. - Later: The more time that passes, the more thinking about this book pisses me off. So from that perspective, I guess it accomplished its purpose.
For those who have given this read a negative review, you may have demonstrated the author’s points white fragility.
The book is academic, a bit dry and just the sociological facts but it’s amazingly informative. Yes, also read books from POC on US racism.
There are many ways that this book can be criticized (thus demonstrating the Kafkaesque trap of white fragility), but the chief one is that it reads more like a religious tract than a sociological text, with its constant preaching of the doctrine of the Original Sin of whiteness, for which there is no possibility of full redemption or absolution. The best white people can do is to strive to be "less white". The author seems to hate herself for her own whiteness and projects that self-loathing onto the white reader. If you're looking for solutions to the problem of racism, you won't find them in this book.
According to this author, those that are identified as white (not necessarily those who identify AS white) are guilty of racism and must be prepared to be tongue-lashed by her. It is curious that somehow denigrating a person by their skin color is not racist when done by a person of the same appearance. It is a popular book for those that need more of a reason to feel bad about themselves.
Ironically, the subject is timely and through reading other sources of information on institutionalized racism, I have noticed many examples of this. The articles were well written and effective in that I was not made to feel that anything I did or said was automatically suspect and therefore invalid. A state of paralysis is not one from which change can occur.
I truly felt empowered after reading this magnificent book! It makes you see the world differently. Now, at every turn, I see oppression - whites enacting their privilege, people not checking each others' pronouns, sex-segregated washrooms, little girls wearing pink - and I tell everyone I know that our relationship is contingent on reading this book.
If they don't read and support this book, I will report them for hateful conduct and notify the Human Resources Department of their employer to ensure that they never work again.
Truly a wonderful and inspiring read!
I was very open-minded when I decided to read this book--better getting the book from the library and glad I did because it is not worth the money to buy it. Repetitive and very hard to read. Author doesn't make a good argument about racism and now it is very easy to call everything racist that it has lost its meaning.
A month or two ago, I received a newsletter from my high school alumni association that had a personal column from the president of the association. She told how she was planning to go to my high school with the white kids in her neighborhood and was disappointed to find that she was assigned to a different, nearly all-Black high school. Her mother was a housekeeper for a family solidly in the assigned neighborhood for the school I attended, so she persuaded the family to allow her to use that address as her own. She was then assigned to my high school. This was in 1953, and I am sure there is nobody who misunderstands what this was all about. But the effect it had on me was to wonder who this association president was, because I knew there were very few Black students in my graduating class. My old yearbook showed that roughly 10% of my class was Black, so how could I have not known that? There was only one Black student in any of my classes and I knew he had a sister in the school and I was aware of one other Black student with whom I sometimes rode a bus to afterschool activities. Again, this is a situation that very few will fail to understand. All of this primed me for reading White Fragility.
White fragility is not about weakness, it is largely a method of deflection from even suggestions of racism. The author is careful in her definition of racism and of its attributes and her discussion of race spends time on the origins of racial identity and on the way social ideals have been generated. On page 113 she offers that white fragility “…may be conceptualized as the sociology of dominance; an outcome of white people’s socialization into white supremacy and a means to protect, maintain, and reproduce white supremacy.”
One question she asks nagged at me; when is the first time I saw a Black person? As a rather introverted person, it is sometimes hard for me recognize that other people come into my orbit, so I could not answer. When I tell you that I know when my younger brother first did so, you will understand another reason for my inability to remember. His first exposure was as a two-year-old to the then first-run movie Song of the South. Returning to my high school experience mentioned above, I am reasonably sure that high school is the first time in my education that there were any Black students in any school I attended.
White Fragility is written for a white audience and it certainly hit its mark in me. The author’s analysis of the reaction of a mother in the grocery store whose child points to a Black man helped me understand her thesis and I could think of several ways to use that in fighting racism. This book was valuable to me and helped me to better understand the underlying structure of racism. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
P.S. October 31 – after posting my comment, I read through numerous other comments about this book. Some of the negative comments were probably from people to whom they believe the author’s theory does not apply, because they “are not racist.” But one comment stated that one should read books by POC (the commenter’s term) and that reading this book by a white author is supporting white supremacy. I read Langston Hughes and Ralph Ellison years ago, Manning Marable and Ta-Nehisi Coates more recently, and I don’t know how many in between. They gave me photographs of myself, each through his own filter. In those writings, I could see myself from the outside. But in WF, the writer got inside my own head. It was like viewing myself in a mirror.
Each of us is searching and we find different paths to understanding and change. I have been involved in activist groups that ultimately accomplished very little because of the need to be “pure.” Read any magazine on the Left to see how we love to fight among ourselves about movement orthodoxy. In the words of Rodney King, “People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along?”
I would recommend this to anyone interested in learning more about racism in America. In response to critiques saying "why not read a book written by a POC instead", I would suggest that you do both. Having read numerous books by POC, I can say that this one brings a unique perspective to the discussion and is valuable in addition to the others.
Why not read a book written by a Black author?
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo OR
Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge
Supporting Robin DiAngelo's work over that of POC is a vote for white supremacy.
This book just reveals that the author is racist and wants to convince people that all white are inherently racist even if they say they are not. Makes no sense, no studies support her statements. It is mostly an anecdotal that she wants to generalize. Not worth reading at all. I had checked it out to understand the reason behind "white fragility", but it just confirmed that it is a made up term with not evidence, yet it is being taught to people as the truth.
To quote the author, "When I say that only whites can be racist, I mean that in the United States, only whites have the collective social and institutional power and privilege over people of color. People of color do not have this power and privilege over white people." In a further quote, the author states that "people of color may also hold prejudices and discriminate against white people, but they lack the social and institutional power that transforms their prejudice and discrimination into racism."
My take away from this book was that, in the author's view, all whites are inherently racist, the good whites (progressives) can at least work to understand their racism and work to be better people and no person of color is capable of being racist, even the most vile of Anti-Semites (e.g. Louis Farrakhan). In my view, her entire book is a load of crap.
I had to struggle to read this after seeing her early statement to the effect that "race and gender are social constructs, rather than biologic facts. Knowing that her arguments come from such a scientifically flawed perspective it's difficult to give her much credence. That said, she does make the point that whites cannot possibly have a visceral understanding of what blacks experience in our society. She could have covered that in about one or two pages.
If you have not thought about race and Racism, then this book will be helpful but if you have already been thinking, reading and discussing race and Racism it is not a must read but it was still valuable to me to read. I did find questions about when did I become aware of Race and how I identified; did have POC classmates; did I have POC teachers - thought provoking. I remember seeing a film on sharing water fountains with POC when I was in kindergarten or first grade; thought of POC classmates from elementary school, busing in my sophomore year of high school; and my sole POC teacher, Mr. Hurt, who really challenged us to meet the kids that were being bused in. For these reflections, the book made it a worthwhile read.
Through her workshops and now this book, Robin DiAngelo offers an important talking point in the larger movement of antiracism and how White people can work toward talking about it.
While many of her points can be boiled down to the unsurprising fact that people will get offended if you call out their racism, she frames it from the belief that we need to move past the idea that "being racist" makes you a "bad person" and our knee-jerk reaction to take offence and defend out moral superiority. This is, understandably, a difficult position to take considering the history of racist power and the harm it's caused. Nevertheless, it is a belief that fits well into the larger narrative that acknowledges that a person can be both racist and antiracist.
Once we've moved past both of these moral and defensive roadblocks, she argues, we can finally join the discussion of racism, acknowledge our racist beliefs, and move toward the goal of becoming more antiracist--both as individuals and as a society.
Not surprisingly, critics of this book exhibit white fragility in their comments.
Quite simply put, what if our society is as racist, and white supremacist as people of colour say it is? It takes very little mental muscle to say “ but it isn’t!”
But what if it is...? This is the starting point for this book. We, as white people, are born into a world view and system that has its roots in violence against people of colour. This is not up for debate. The evidence is clear. What we are called to is shed our veil of lies and denial, and begin the work of listening and learning.
It is only after we wake up are we aware that we were sleeping.
the author was teaching workshops about white racism and they didn't go over well. Any teacher worth her salt would reassess her presentation and consider a more effective way of attaining her goal. Instead, Robin DiAngelo, Phd --Didi as I think of her--decided the fault must be in her students and evolved her theory of "white fragility."
Imagine! Her audience didn't react well to being called racists! Fancy that! If DiDi knew anything about history she would realize that this represents real progress. At the beginning of the 20th century the intellectual and political elites on both sides of the Atlantic had no doubt that whites from Northern Europe were the superior race, and professors at leading universities in this country wrote books about how hordes from southern and Eastern Europe (those Italians and Jews!) were mongrelizing our country. Even in the 1950s many whites would probably have snickered if you called them racists. Now everyone knows racism is morally offensive. As for her theory itself and her recommendations for how whites should conduct themselves I can only repeat the immortal words of George Orwell"Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them."
This book points out how whites have certain have certain biases towards race all while pretending to be colorblind .It explains biases that some people don't realize exist. Its shows how to dismantle racists systems that are in place. Very informative. Feel it was a very good read
This racist screed peddles toxic white guilt. It is making its author fabulously wealthy (adding enormously to her own "white privilege"). But It has been accurately described as the dumbest book ever written. So, definitely do not buy it, you'll only be helping scam artist Robin DiAngelo get even richer. If you are curious and/or feeling masochistic, borrow a copy from the library.
For more insight read this article:
And here's a video review:
WATCH: "7 Reasons Why "White Fragility" is the Worst Book Ever"