The Bottom Line
If we are to make meaningful progress in overcoming the obstacles to racial justice, we must confront the barrier that is white fragility: the many ways in which white people avoid engaging with uncomfortable truths and thereby become complicit in perpetuating racism.
Sociologist Robin DiAngelo, PhD, is used to having difficult conversations about race. She’s spent more than two decades as a diversity education specialist, helping people in companies and communities better understand what racism looks like and how to combat it.
As a white woman, DiAngelo noticed that the white people in her sessions were prone to erupting when they were called out for racist acts and attitudes, no matter how delicately the matter had been approached. She saw how sessions that were supposed to educate white people on the realities of racism and lead to positive change were hindered by the need to placate those white individuals’ hurt feelings and discomfort when confronted with their own biases and culpability. She heard over and over again, “I can’t be racist, I have a Black partner/voted for Barack Obama/would never use a racial slur.”
In 2011, DiAngelo wrote an essay about what she termed white fragility: how white people perpetuate racism by being too fragile to discuss the issue candidly and honestly. In 2018, she expanded it into a book, which became a bestseller amid the protests over the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Silence is no longer an option — whites must shed their defensiveness and start talking openly about race, and racism, in America.
II. Race was Created to Justify Racism
III. Unpacking Prejudice, Discrimination and Racism
IV. America Was Built on White Supremacy
V. Racism Can Take Subtle Forms
VI. When White People Are Blind to Racism
VII. Stop Deflecting, Denying and Disengaging
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