White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

“White Fragility is a vital, necessary, and beautiful book, a bracing call to white folk everywhere to see their whiteness for what it is and to seize the opportunity to make things better now”

p. xii, Michael Eric Dyson, Foreword of White Fragility

Hello Everyone! I just finished reading “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. In this book, she describes what having white privilege is like and encourages us to reflect on our white privilege and think about why racism is a difficult topic for white people to discuss. Then, she wants us to take our reflections about our white fragility, privilege, and acts of racism (overt and covert) and apply what we’ve learned from her book into our practices and energy going to becoming antiracist and supporting BIPOC; specifically black people. This book is a must read for EVERY white person, especially those on the path to becoming antiracist. I hope you enjoy these quotes from the book and be involved in becoming antiracist and supporting BIPOC on your own life adventure. 🙂 ❤

“[The] white folk finally mature and face the world they’ve made while seeking to help remake it for those who have neither their privilege nor their protection.” (p. xii, Dyson)

“…racism is deeply complex and nuanced, and given this, we can never consider our learning to be complete or finished.” (p. xv, DiAngelo)

“Though white fragility is triggered by discomfort and anxiety, it is born of superiority and entitlement. White fragility is not weakness per se. In fact, it is a powerful means of white racial control and the protection of white advantage.” (p. 2)

“One of the greatest social fears for a white person is being told that something that we have said or done is racially problematic.” (p. 4)

“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 antiracist 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.” (p. 5)

“[A] critical component of cross-racial skill building is the ability to sit with the discomfort of being seen racially, of having to proceed as if our race matters (which it does). Being seen racially is a common trigger of white fragility, and thus, to build our stamina, white people must face the first challenge: naming our race.” (p. 7)

“To understand race relations today, we must push against our conditioning and grapple with how and why racial group membership matters.” (p. 11)

“The racial status quo is comfortable for white people, and we will not move forward in race relations if we remain comfortable. The key to moving forward is what we do with our discomfort.” (p. 14)

“[Us] stating that racism privileges whites does not mean that individual white people do not struggle or face barriers. It does mean that we do not face the particular barriers of racism.” (p. 24)

“Instead of the typical focus on how racism hurts people of color, to examine whiteness is to focus on how racism elevates white people.” (p. 25)

“Color-blind ideology makes it difficult for us to address these unconscious beliefs. While the idea of color blindness may have started out as a well-intentioned strategy for interrupting racism, in practice it has served to deny the reality of racism and thus hold it in place.” (p. 42)

“Yes, it’s uncomfortable to be confronted with an aspect of ourselves that we don’t like, but we can’t change what we refuse to see.” (p. 42)

“The expectation that people of color should teach white people about racism is another aspect of white racial innocence that reinforces several problematic racial assumptions. First, it implies that racism is something that happens to people of color and has nothing to do with us and that we consequently cannot be expected to have any knowledge of it. This framework denies that racism is a relationship in which both groups are involved. By leaving it to people of color to tackle racial issues, we offload the tensions and social dangers of speaking openly onto them. We can ignore the risks ourselves and remain silent on questions of our own culpability.” (p. 64)

“Now it is our responsibility to grapple with how this socialization manifests itself in our daily lives and how it shapes our responses when it is challenged.” (p. 69)

“In a society in which race clearly matters, our race profoundly shapes us. If we want to challenge this construct, we must make an honest accounting of how it is manifest in our own lives and in the society around us.” (p. 73)

“…white fragility can only protect the problematic behavior you feel so defensive about; it does not demonstrate that you are an open person who has no problematic racial behavior.” (p. 76)

“Racism cannot be absent from your friendship [with a person of color]. No person of color whom [DiAngelo] has met has said that racism isn’t at play in his or her friendships with white people. Some whites are more thoughtful, aware, and receptive to feedback than others, but no cross-racial relationship is free from dynamics of racism in this society.” (p. 81)

“Refusing to engage in an authentic exploration of racial realities erases (and denies) alternate racial experiences.” (p. 86)

“Racism is complex and nuanced, and its manifestations are not the same for every group of color. To challenge the ideologies of racism such as individualism and color blindness, we as white people must suspend our perception of ourselves as unique and/or outside race.” (p. 89)

“White fragility may be conceptualized as a response or “condition” produced and reproduced by the continual social and material advantages of whiteness.” (p. 105)

“The continual retreat from the discomfort of authentic racial engagement in a culture in which racial disparity is infused limits white people’s ability to form authentic connections across racial lines and perpetuates a cycle that keeps racism in place.” (p. 111)

“White fragility functions as a form of bullying…” (p. 112)

“It would be revolutionary if we could receive, reflect, and work to change the behavior. On the one hand, the man’s response points to how difficulty and fragile we [white people] are. But on the other hand, it indicates how simple it can be to take responsibility for our racism. However, we aren’t likely to get there if we are operating from the dominant worldview that only intentionally mean people can participate in racism.” (p. 113)

“It is far more common for sincere white people to agonize over when and how to give feedback to a fellow white person, given the ubiquity of white fragility. White fragility punishes the person giving feedback and presses them back into silence. It also maintains white solidarity–the tacit agreement that we will protect white privilege and not hold each other accountable for our racism.” (p. 125)

“[S]topping our racist patterns must be more important than working to convince others that we don’t have them.” (p. 129)

“[I]f we whites want to interrupt this system, we have to get racially uncomfortable and be willing to examine the effects of our racial engagement.” (p. 135)

“The final advice I [DiAngelo] offer is this: “Take the initiative to find out on your own.”” (p. 144)

“So consider racism a matter of life and death (as it is for people of color) and do your homework.” (p. 145)

“What they [people of color] are looking for is not perfection but the ability to talk about what happened, the ability to repair. Unfortunately, it is rare for white people to own and repair our inevitable patterns of racism. Thus, relationships with white people tend to be less authentic for people of color.” (p. 146)

“We can interrupt our white fragility and build our capacity to sustain cross-racial honesty by being willing to tolerate the discomfort associated with an honest appraisal and discussion of our internalized superiority and racial privilege. […] And most important, we must break the silence about race and racism with other white people.” (p. 148)

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