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White Fragility

Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
Narrated by: Amy Landon
Length: 6 hrs and 21 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (829 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

In this “vital, necessary, and beautiful book” (Michael Eric Dyson), antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo deftly illuminates the phenomenon of white fragility and “allows us to understand racism as a practice not restricted to 'bad people'" (Claudia Rankine). 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. 

In this in-depth exploration, DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

Download readers' guides at beacon.org/whitefragility.

©2018 Robin DiAngelo (P)2018 Random House Audio

What the critics say

“[T]houghtful, instructive, and comprehensive... This slim book is impressive in its scope and complexity; DiAngelo provides a powerful lens for examining, and practical tools for grappling with, racism today.” (Publishers Weekly)

“As a woman of color, I find hope in this book because of its potential to disrupt the patterns and relationships that have emerged out of long-standing colonial principles and beliefs. White Fragility is an essential tool toward authentic dialogue and action. May it be so!” (Shakti Butler, president of World Trust and director of Mirrors of Privilege: Making Whiteness Visible)

“A rare and incisive examination of the system of white body supremacy that binds us all as Americans... With authenticity and clarity, she provides the antidote to white fragility and a road map for developing white racial stamina and humility. White Fragility loosens the bonds of white supremacy and binds us back together as human beings.” (Resmaa Menakem, author of My Grandmother’s Hands and Rock the Boat)

What listeners say about White Fragility

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White guilt

Does not provide any evidence other than anecdotes. Provides no helpful solutions or ways to deconstruct and improve “systematic racism”. I tried so hard to challenge my opinions and find meaning in this book, but alas, I shall keep trying with other books.

26 people found this helpful

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Food for thought.

Amy Landon sounds like an AI. I found her very hard to listen to & had a hard time not drifting off because her voice is so monotonous. The content was very interesting though and made me realize as a white person that I need to change some my attitudes and perspectives where people of colour are concerned. It made me realize that as someone socialized as white, I really have no clue what it’s like to grow up in a racist society. I can do better and I’m grateful that this book showed me where some of my biases lie and that I can do better.

24 people found this helpful

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Mixed Feelings

It's fair to say I haven't put much work into reviewing my perspective on my own behaviour and how I may be unintentionally contributing to bias, prejudice or racism, with an emphasis on 'unintentionally'. Perhaps i'm doing something without my awareness? Perhaps I need to do more to actively work against racism in my predominantly white area? Given the societal unrest at this time (spring / summer 2020), I felt it necessary to improve on this gap, as I hope to become a better person over time, reduce suffering in the world and do my part to help others where I can. I initially started with 'Me and White Supremacy' before coming to this work. I think the large benefit to a book like 'White Fragility', and others of a similar vein, is the increased awareness of how my well intentioned actions may unintentionally perpetuate hardships for people of colour or may be perceived by POC as mis-guided, off-base, tone-deaf, culturally ignorant / insensitive etc. It's more on the fore-front of my mind, and encourages thinking before acting or speaking. The issues I have with this book are the argument that someone reacting defensively to being labelled a racist is proof of fragility, which in turn supports the argument that they're in fact quite comfortable with supporting racism and white supremacy because calling it out to the open disrupts their comfortable lifestyle which is upsetting. If you were to give any well-intentioned and well-meaning progressive individual a horrific label such as being a racist (as classically defined), pedophile, etc, of course you're going to get a strong adverse response, moreso for people who absolutely want to be better people than that, and moreso when it's delivered as a blanket statement against all people with a given skin colour (ironic, given a book of this nature). If you use that defensiveness as evidence of participation which supports the label, it's going to absolutely turn people away, they'll turn their ears off, etc. There needs to be more time spent on the idea that the definitions of racism and white supremacy have changed, or to use alternate terms for the expanded breadth of these concepts, which will help prevent the knee-jerk reaction given most peoples definition of racism and white supremacy. I think the idea of dismissing outward displays of compassion as a self-centered need to be the focus of attention (referred to as white womens tears in the book), assumes the worst in people. Is it not possible that someone can feel moved to tears when hearing another person speak of their experience in life, which they've endured as a result of their skin colour? Is it really fair to say that people crying is just their need to get more attention? My take-aways from the book are that I want to continue to be open-minded on the topic, hear directly from POC as to what can be done better, and to actively do my part to stand-up when something racially-motivated is happening. I think the book lacks concrete actions that can be taken, and leaves me feeling that because I'm white, i'm guilty. If I speak to a POC, it's tokenism and I'm overriding the discussion. If I try to help the movement, its either cultural appropriation or it's being done to satisfy my own need to demonstrate how I'm not racist on social media, it's not truly well-intentioned. If I show visible emotion and compassion, it's distracting to POC. It's definitely a sense that I'm guilty because of my skin colour and that I can do no right. The book would be significantly more useful if there were examples of beneficial actions which can be considered and undertaken, aside from just apologizing. Aside from the obvious actions of doing something like speaking up when something obviously racially-unjust is occurring, and being open to feedback on my actions, words or behaviours, I don't have a strong sense of what I can do from here. I'll continue to keep reading on the topic, but I can't yet commit endless adoration of this book just yet.

21 people found this helpful

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Some very important points made. Do your own research.

Everyone has to decide where they fit in and how they can authentically do the work to help make our world a better place. Just my personal thought but read lots, observe lots, listen lots and do not let anyone speak for you or others, regardless of your ‘race’ or theirs. I wish everyone blessings, justice and love.

14 people found this helpful

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Validating

This book is the story of my life since I moved to North America 25 years ago. Before, I came, I was just a person. When I arrived, I became black. I have described these behaviors to my peers many times without realizing they were actually a thing. White rage, white solidarity, white fragility and White women’s tears... we live these things everyday. A huge thank you to Robin DiAngelo for writing this book. It matters to me that you are white and you chose to write this book. Maybe white people won’t change but at least I know that this race thing is real and not my imagination or “sensitivity” and that there are others who see it, understand it and make it their life’s work to fight against it. I encourage everyone to read this book!

10 people found this helpful

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What I needed to hear

Reading this was the first, conscious step for me in confronting my inherent racism and I’m so SO glad I started with this book. I’m a white woman in my 20s. I’ve never considered myself a bigot, a racist, or anything of the sort. If/when I’ve been confronted for causing harm to someone for something I’ve said or done, I’ve been horrified and deeply embarrassed. So naturally, I went into this going: “I’m not a racist, I don’t acknowledge differences between people who are white, or coloured, so this will just be a good exercise on how to talk with other people about them being racist.” And then Rabin DiAngelo got me HARD with this paragraph, right in the introduction: “I believe that white progressives cause the most daily damage to people of colour. I define a white progressive as a 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 colour 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.” Wow. Had I not read this book at the beginning of my self-education on the Black Lives Matter movement, racism, and black culture, I would have spent the whole time not having confronted my own racism, my own unavoidable, socialized state of assumption and classification against people “other” than me. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to spend time, and continue to do so moving forward, questioning my own privilege and what that actually means. What an eye opener of a book. Full of examples of how we perpetuate racism daily, how we exhaust our friends and loved ones and fellow humans of colour all the time with our professed goodness...how, in spending our energy yelling from mountaintops that we’re not racist, we scoop water into our own boat and call it allyship, love, anti-racism. But it’s just us trying desperately to save face and it doesn’t help people of colour, or us. I’ll be re-reading this one for sure. And cannot recommend this more for my fellow white people. Do yourself, and the people around you, a favour and take the time to read this book.

8 people found this helpful

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Great meaningful content

Only feedback is the narration was a bit robotic. Didn’t know it was an actual person at first.

8 people found this helpful

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we have to talk about it

really interesting book on racism and whiteness, it hit the point to make me think about my own attitude, even if I always thought of myself as not a racist person. I know it's more complicated then that. I loved the audio book because I can learn while I'm keeping my hands busy at something else, but I though the voice was a bit " mechanical ".

6 people found this helpful

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It's A Slog

There are some interesting points made. I particularly enjoyed the points made about affirmative action. However the vast majority of the book is painful to listen to due to how the author assumes every little thing is about race (maybe the neighbourhood is bad because it's black or maybe, and much more likely, the neighbourhood is bad because it has a statistically higher crime rate), how the author cherrypicks examples from crazy women to generalize the population and how she brushes aside any criticism by saying, "You're not black, so you wouldn't understand.". To be fair, sometimes there are legitimate concerns that African Americans may have, but other times there are not. In fact given how many times the author says that things simply 'feel uncomfortable' to African Americans I'd say a much better title for this book is 'Black Fragility'.

5 people found this helpful

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This read was life changing

As a mixed person I found this completely life changing, great audiobook. I wish this book was more available for white people.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Tulips77
  • 2019-07-11

Noble but flawed attempt to deal with racism

The author offers helpful tips for discussing race, but grounds her arguments in a postmodernist philosophy that is myopic and ignorant of global history. Any definition of racism needs to look at more than just American history. Racism is more than just an American social construct, but is rooted in every society. Her misunderstandings on race fail to hold up when looking at the racism of Nazism, the Indian caste system, the Rwandan Genocide, or the Rape of Nanking, just to name a few counterexamples. Failure to note the biological roots, as well as the cultural roots of racism, prevents a coherent solution to a pernicious problem.

1,056 people found this helpful

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  • Eric
  • 2020-03-10

Word salad

The only value this has is as a window into the mind of a certain kind of person. The author uses redefinitions of commonly understood language, personal anecdotes, and ideological jargon to lay out a pretty bizarre perspective on race. The work is absolutely pseudointellectual and fails to cite authoritative studies or data in favor of Beyonce quotes. I’m not sure what type of person would find this author to be compelling. Dogmatically this is a complete trainwreck.

976 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2020-05-06

Repeditive and Derivative

Since the author gives presentations of race, hearing her talk about her insight and experience on this important topic seamed like it would add to her book but having heard her book, I see why they choose a very calm, professional reader. The sample covers the the tone and depth of the book. She is a sociologist and knows all she need to about her audience whom she considers ignorant, uneducated, racist white supremacists members of the white collective or Klan. She's heard it all before so the only feedback she wants is thank you, She make an example of one participant who gives the wrong feedback. In another example she gives, another person is driven out of the room and coworkers think she may be having a heart attack. The writer is upset that this and the possible death will draw attention from what she is saying, Near the end she explains that she is un-white and sees nothing positive in white people. Her actual material on racism is mostly other peoples work and opinion. The material seems to be used to show she went to colege, reads the right books and to expand this to book length rather that open people to talk about race. Some people in her line of work, particularly those with her apparent attitude, may like and relate to this book and her experiences and frustrations in talking about race. Others,however, like her participant from Canada, may find this makes talking about race less likely. She did have a piece of good advise that bares repeating. We should seek more to understand than to be understood and to console than be consoled. I had already gotten that advise from St Francis but its still good advise.

667 people found this helpful

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  • Wedge Molthen
  • 2020-05-12

terrible book do not waste your time

read this book because the title sounded interesting was not interesting in the slightest the author goes on some pretty bull theories and basically gives you the opinion of not believing her with contradicting herself

572 people found this helpful

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  • E Penders
  • 2020-01-27

Encourages Readers to Focus on Racial Identity

DiAngelo aims to increase the reader's sense of white identity in this book. It is unabashedly white identitarian (p. 149) and she admits that according to the dictionary definition of racism, she is promoting racist views in White Fragility (p. 13). DiAngelo then flips the narrative, however. She uses the same foundations as overtly racist groups to help the reader focus on awareness of racial identity with the ultimate aim at undoing racial harm through recognizing ones own conscious and unconscious racially problematic behavior. Basically she promotes white readers owning their white identity as a means to help them recognize the associated responsibility and the collective group harm that has been committed against marginalized races by the identity. Many will not agree with DiAngelo's repudiation of Dr. King's famous "I Have a Dream" statement, (p. 41) "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character". What needs to be very clear to the reader though, is that DiAngelo is approaching racism from an entirely different angle from King. She is redefining racism. She promotes wholeheartedly that color-blindness is itself racist. She calls it "Color Blind Racism". So in summary, DiAngelo is approaching racism from a very different angle than what most are used to. With some, this will resonate, with others, this will not. Promoting identitarianism is a very controversial thing to do, and so the reader should think deeply before jumping in whole-heartedly. From my own personal experience, the adoption of these views in my close social group have been destructive and have caused probably lifelong damage to previously very deep and loving relationships. The fruit of this philosophy in a social group manifests in a very similar way to other forms of racial identitarianism. One is singled out specifically because of the color of their skin and is charged with responsibility simply because of who their parents were. So think long and hard before deciding whether you want to go down the road of racial identitarianism with DiAngelo.

563 people found this helpful

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  • Wade Lancaster
  • 2019-11-14

Racist Propaganda

What a horrible book. And yes I get it. I just disagree with the premise. Furthermore, the term white fragility is a condescending term that is meant to shut down differing opinions and is equivalent to calling someone racist. If you are white, this book alleges, you are automatically racist. So, you can’t defend yourself, because you don’t have any control over the color of your skin. You are just supposed to accept this as fact and rely on others to provide a prescriptive remedy. Really? I have no issue with those that think this is the gospel. Maybe those that do are racist. However, I have lived a life with no hate in my heart and have treated all people equally and respectfully. Additionally, I’ve never had any problems discussing racism or other challenging issues. I’ve had a few conversations where others have tried to shut down the dialogue by claiming racism, white fragility, or using terms like anti-racist. These terms are an attempt to shut down debate. They are inappropriate to use if you are really trying to discuss issues and trying to change things for the better. They are only appropriate if your are trying to weaken and vilify others—in this case a whole group of people. The people pushing this narrative are just trying to further their agenda instead of trying to further our togetherness as humans. It has not reached its peak yet. Unfortunately, the anti-white movement continues unabated and it doesn’t matter anymore if you’re are a woman, gay, trans, etc. if you’re white, you are racist. And, even more disconcerting, if you’ve benefited from the “white” world, then you are just as racist. I heard this viewpoint recently from a tv production that was commenting on how some Asians and Latinos did not deserve protections because their high educational scores and wealth meant they have benefitted from the racist structures in the United States. Wow. Update 10/1/20 Please stop flagging my review. It has been taken down and reviewed by audible several times. This is another way to shut down differing opinions. There is nothing racist about my review.

540 people found this helpful

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  • Jay
  • 2020-06-08

Smug, Manipulative and Void of Humanity

There are so many problems with this book that it would take me a few hours to document them. Maybe I will do that at some point. In summary, the author redefines racism to include unconscious bias and concludes that any and all white people have these and are racists. If you object to the new definition or object to being called a racist under this new construct, then you suffer from a new invented condition called "White Fragility" and should be shamed repeatedly. Over and over and over. Her approach is manipulative, smug and void of humanity. It ignores the complexity of human existence and human interaction and, in my opinion creates less healthy and authentic interactions and relationships. Love and vulnerability beget change. Shame does not..

434 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
  • AmazonPrimeViewer
  • 2020-05-31

Americentric

The pamphlet is americentric to the point of parody. To the point of nationalistic bigotry.

379 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-06-03

Assumptive trash.

Paints racism with a very broad and biased brush. Racism is real. It is not, however, limited to just “white” people. This book would suggest otherwise. Don’t waste your time.

346 people found this helpful

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  • christopher b leone
  • 2018-10-16

Lacking

Lacking historical perspective and overwhelming biased by personal experiences which are not representative of the vast majority of non African Americans.

615 people found this helpful