"White Fragility" and Why It's Your Next Book
Robin DeAngilo, a white, middle-class woman, writes about her experience consulting, educating, and facilitating discussions on race and social justice. As an expert that visits various workplaces and organizations, her role is to enter a group, discover the racial problem in its midst, and deescalate the experience into one of understanding and growth for every party present. Something she always came across was this thing called white fragility, wherein a white person vehemently (or not vehemently) defends their actions as non-racist. Through many examples, this book illustrates exactly what white fragility looks like and how we can identify it in ourselves. DeAngilo also offers ways to approach the conversation of race without activating white fragility in others around us.
During a time of more conversations about racism, 2020 and beyond are now going to be filled with consistent monitoring of ourselves and others, hopefully in an educating and not policing sort of way. Five months ago, I trusted that those around me didn't have inherit biases about race. Five months ago, I didn't understand what systemic racism was, or racial privilege, outside of the historical events we learned in school. And this book is just one of many to help us understand our inherit biases during our lives today, right now, those biases we received by just existing in the American system.
To tackle the racism within ourselves, we have to wisely listen.
We must listen to each other and other's experiences. White Fragility is about one person's experience as a white woman talking about race for a profession. She admits where she's done wrong and where she needs to grow. She understands that there isn't one answer to solve all the issues at play. There isn't one solution to white fragility. There isn't going to be one experience that speaks louder than the other. Instead, it is our responsibility to read, listen, and discuss what it means to be a white person in a system that continually favors us because the color of our skin. Once we know what that means, we can fight for equity across the entire nation.
My white fragility was that I didn't like getting called out for saying something wrong about race and often felt uncomfortable when someone said something to me. I used to use answers like "well my high school was very diverse, so I understand," "I have black friends," and "I always had at least one black person in all my classes." Defending a specific event by using my past is not a justification for upsetting a person of color, or upsetting anyone for that matter. This book helped to illustrate some of those same phrases that I've used before and it offered me a quiet space to reflect on my actions and to better myself before I upset anyone else publicly.
I cannot recommend this book any higher, especially right now. Find this available at your local bookstore or online at one of these Minneapolis booksellers (Magers & Quinn, Cream & Amber, Moon Palace Books).
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