White Fragility: Book Chosen for Summer Reading

White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Here’s why the Dismantling White Supremacy group chose the book and why they invite us to go deeper in sharing this fall, exploring in lightly facilitated conversations how the book impacted each of us personally. In what NPR describes as a “groundbreaking book,” sociologist and anti-racism educator Robin DiAngelo explores the phenomenon of “white fragility” — the defensive moves white people engage in when challenged racially. As DiAngelo notes,

“These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving or removing the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial identity and equilibrium.”

Profoundly interwoven within the fabric of white culture, this fragile impulse not only prevents any meaningful cross-racial dialogue from taking place, but it also induces a kind of blindness in even the best-intentioned, well-meaning people.

“I believe white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of color. I define a white progressive as any white person who thinks he or she is not racist, or is less racist, or in the ‘choir,’ or already ‘gets it.’ White progressives can be the most difficult for people of color because, to the degree that we think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived. None of our energy will go into what we need to be doing for the rest of our lives: engaging in ongoing
self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building, and actual anti-racist practice. White progressives do indeed uphold and perpetrate racism, but our defensiveness and certitude make it virtually impossible to explain to us how we do so.” — excerpt from White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

As you can see from DiAngelo’s list of essential to-dos — “ongoing self-awareness, continuing education, relationship building” — this is soul work, a dive into the essence and spirit of our being. With that noble task in mind, we warmly invite you to join us in this communal journey, understanding that, alas, none of us has “arrived;” we are all in process. Our dialogue and conversation will be guided by trust, candor, nonjudgment and love. With open minds, compassionate hearts, and a spirit of humility, we look forward to learning and growing together along the way.

Videos featuring Robin DiAngelo:
Why “I’m not racist” is only half the story
C-SPAN2 BookTV lecture

You can order a copy of New York Times’ bestseller White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo from your public library, local bookstore, or online. Share your thoughts and feelings about the book in the fall.

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