At a recent workshop hosted by Volunteer Community Services and the Center for Safety and Change, an important new book was highlighted:
White Fragility, Why it is so hard for White People to talk about Racism, by Robin Diangelo.
Sociologist and antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo illuminates emotionally charged and defensive behavior that occurs when a white person’s perceived anti-racism is challenged.
“Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue.” ~Beacon Press
Many important tools are provided to self reflect on our inevitable racism caused by being socialized in a society where there is a historical foundation of institutional racism. Diangelo stresses the distinction between acts of discrimination and prejudice (overt intolerant events) and the societal structure of racism.
In this process, Diangelo implores the reader, particularly those of us that consider ourselves progressive, liberal and anti-racist, to recognize our continued role in racism, and to recognize that interrupting racism is life long work…that we are never “done.”
Important concepts that strongly impacted my thinking:
-Our actions: Intent vs Impact
– The Good/Bad Binary (because racism is amoral, saying a white person is racist is a moral affront.)
-Working to consider ourselves in racial terms…the impact of being white
Diangelo encourages the reader to shift their thinking from if you are a racist, to how we engage in racism.
This short book (150 pages) is an important read!