Review: White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism

Happy Sunday Everyone

I hope you’re all having a chilled and relaxed day of rest. I’ve done a few bits and bobs this morning and then plan on taking it easy for the rest of the day. I’m whizzing through books at the moment, I don’t think I’ve posted this many reviews so close to each other since I started this blog in 2018. Long may it last!

Book 📖

Bit of a change of pace with this book choice. Last year I read a few books about racism and black history and then I went straight back into fiction. Gave my head a bit of a wobble this weekend and decided to pick up White Fragility by Robin Diangelo.

Description 🔖

Robin Diangelo is an antiracism educator and coined the term “white fragility” in 2011. This book discusses what white fragility is, how it manifests, what it looks like and how society can move beyond it. She uses real life examples from her work and from culture to explain all of this.

General Thoughts 🤔

I find writing reviews for books like this really difficult and I don’t know why. I think it’s because it makes me feel uncomfortable at times and I worry about other people’s discomfort. Ironically, comfort is discussed in this book quite a lot. Diangelo is a white woman and has written this book for white people. When she says “we” she means white people however I found myself relating to some of the points she made; and I’m not white! I am mixed race and often find myself stuck in a little bit of limbo.

I nodded along to too many sections of this book which kind of made me question if I am doing enough to make people that I know and that I’m close to recognise their own white fragility. But then again, I don’t know if it is my job to. It’s all very confusing to me which makes me more interested in it. I recognise many of the behaviours that Diangelo discusses in white people that I am close to. Colour blind racism is probably the most common. It’s bizarre to me that people think that “I don’t see colour” is antiracist; it’s not. It’s just sweeping the blatantly obvious under the rug and ignoring it. I think that this is probably the most common form of unintentional racism in the UK.

The concept of binary good vs bad (good = can’t be racism, bad = racism) was really interesting to me and I found it enlightening. It is drummed into us that racism is bad (which of course it is), but it doesn’t mean that good people can’t behave in a way which is unintentionally racist. This was probably the biggest penny drop for me regarding why white people are so uncomfortable talking about race. Nobody wants to be perceived as a bad person.

Writing Style ✍️

I liked the way that Diangelo structured this book in the way of addressing questions. It made it easy to follow and was clear and concise. I also thought that the examples she used to explain some of her thesis helped to bring it to life and also triggered memories of times when I myself have witnessed white fragility.

I listened to the audiobook and I have to say that the narration was a little bit robotic. I understand that it’s a difficult balance to strike when narrating a non-fiction book such as this one, however a little less monotone would have been good.

Conclusion & Scoring 🎖️

I can see why this book will have been so emotive for the masses. A book written for white people about their own fragility isn’t going to sit comfortably, however, it is not supposed to. As a mixed race woman, there are points in the book that I don’t agree with but there is a whole lot more in the book that I know for myself to be true. I am really interested in knowing what other people of colour thought about this book and will spend some time reading up on that. I would however be more interested in knowing what white people that I know think about this book and how reading it would make them feel. For that to happen, I need to recommend it and encourage a conversation. Let’s see how that goes.

😍😍😍😍😩

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