There was a meme going around Facebook that said something along the lines of: when violence happens to the Black community, white people join book clubs.
The implication is that white people are quick to bury their nose in a book, learn something, feel validated and like they did something, and then go on with their lives. Because the issue does not directly impact them.
I think there is nothing wrong with reading books. But don't just read and forget, don't mistake education for advocacy… This podcast, like other forms of learning, is meant to be a step on the road to anti-racism… an early step (that you can keep returning to) but after you learn – after you read, reflect, interrupt your internal prejudices, and initiate change throughout your life. Follow your education with action whenever possible!
So today, and periodically, I will share books I am reading, my big take aways. Who else may benefit from reading the resources and any other pertinent info…
So, I’ve been hearing a lot about the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo recently. I’ve seen a couple people recommend it in FB threads, and it’s shown up on some resources of books to read to help make it easier to talk about race.
It was not until I bought the book and started reading it that I began to hear controversy surrounding the book. You see, the author, Robin DiAngelo is a White woman. Her background includes diversity and sensitivity training, and I certainly think she has a perspective on how white people talk about (or avoid talking about) race.
The biggest concern is that there are lots of really great books about this topic (or very similar topics) written by Black experts. When the subject matter relates to racism and racial inequality, there is something to be said about the majority of White readers flocking to learn about race from a White author – supported by the fact that the book has topped the NY Times Best Seller list for weeks, while similar books by people of color are further down on the list.
And I think it’s a unique parallel because you are listening to a White podcaster talk about racial issues…
So, first, I’d like to say that with the goal being to normalize talking about race – we ALL need to be encouraged to talk about race.
That being said, I HIGHLY encourage anyone who is starting with White Fragility to not end there. Don’t listen to one White person and allow that to be the extent of your education – remember that’s reflective of what got us here in the first place, and we need to listen to a diverse range of voices
I did enjoy reading the book – I learned a lot about how I’ve historically reacted to things like being accused of being racist – maybe I should reword that… I learned a lot about how I’ve historically reacted to being called out for my racism.
I learned about why other White people react the way they do on social media and in person when we talk about racial issues. I believe this will help me to initiate and facilitate conversations related to race – especially with people who have not yet recognized their White privilege and/or their participation in racist policies.
Some critics have recognized that pieces of DiAngelo’s story are racist in and of themselves. Which kind of makes sense because as a White person, I know that I don’t always get it right – and I don’t believe any White person will ever be able to “get it” by nature of the fact that we’ll never BE Black. I am glad that I read some criticism of the book, after reading the book, so that I could reflect on the content even further. I have included some critical works, as well as some related resources to the book in the show notes.
Overall, I believe this is a helpful introductory book for White people who are not experienced talking about race – and unfortunately I think that White people who are just beginning their journey may be more comfortable starting with a book by a White author. Do what feels right to you – And if you do decide to read this book – I encourage you to follow it up with a couple additional books from Black authors. I will let you know that the book I am reading how is called How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi and I will certainly share similar thoughts after I complete that book.
Listen and Subscribe Now
Links & Resources
- YouTube: Dr. Robin DiAngelo discusses ‘White Fragility'
- How ‘white fragility' reinforces racism – video explainer
- Glorifying White Authors like DiAngelo Erases Decades of Black Writing on Whiteness
- From a White Perspective, “White Fragility” is Fragile
- A Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism