Posted on December 12 2020
Coming at you with the second book in the Anti-Racist Book Club from the First Library of Paradise; White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
Overall, a great and important read for those of us committed to change. Understanding there was some drama surrounding this book recently on social media, it's important to keep in mind the author is a white woman. I lean on the notion it's easier (and possibly more effective) for white people to hear self-criticism from another white person, hence; white fragility. The book nor the author are perfect and the point is not to expound these readings as bond, rather to consume as much as possible, form your own opinion and engage constructively.
White Fragility seeks to challenge our complicity with and investment in racism. Her main point is white people don’t talk about racism because we’re uncomfortable. She offers her own expanded definition of the word “racism.” Plainly, as white people who have benefitted from a white supremacist constructed society, we are inherently racist whether we exhibit what we define as “racist” behavior or not. It's also our job to change it. In order to do so we must acknowledge it first.
Aside from the authors own narrative, the book is also ridden with examples and stats. I find these to be great nuggets to not only mull over on my own but also to keep in my back pocket for discussion later. I could see these coming in handy if you’ve still got some “All Lives Matter” folks in the lineage.
I love a cliff-note, so I’d like to offer a few topline points from the notes I took throughout my reading;
Naming white supremacy changes the conversation in two key ways; It makes the system visible and shifts the locus of change onto white people, where it belongs.
No aspect of society is outside the forces of racism.
Racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society. It is not limited to a single act or person. Nor does it move back and forth, one day benefitting whites and another day benefitting people of color.
To interrupt white fragility, we need to build our capacity to sustain the discomfort of not knowing, the discomfort of being racially unmoored, the discomfort of racial humility.
What is the First Library of Paradise? Read my first post here.