• Malia Zaidi

Book Review: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Updated: Jul 13




White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism

by Robin DiAngelo

3***


I want to preface this review by saying, despite some points I read critically, I do think White Fragility is a thought provoking book. Do I think it's perfect? No. Do I think a white woman, even one who has studied racial inequities with intense devotion could illustrate the profundity of the societal rot that is racism? No. But it's a start, and that is something.


I wrote down all these notes that I made while reading White Fragility, but then I came across this article, and the author puts it more succinctly than I could have (https://theweek.com/articles/921623/l...). While this book is thought provoking, it is also lacking in certain fundamental ways. I recommend reading it, because it certainly made me think, but the more I did, the more I felt frustrated with Diangelo. She, being a white woman, offers vast and generalized criticisms and observations, but very limited solutions. This becomes especially evident when she repeatedly emphasizes how unresponsive people in her workshops are when she tells them they're all racists and how ineffective thus her methods seem to be. I thought a lot about this, wondering if I am being defensive, but I don't think that's where my issue with this book comes from. Like so many others, shaken by the racial inequity and violence that seems to have become a norm, I am finally taking the overdue step of trying to learn more, of trying to listen and have conversations about an issue so insidious in this society that we think it is better to just pretend it doesn't exist. One statement that did really resonate with me in this book was the following "One cannot change what one refuses to see". I want to move forward with my eyes open. This book did not offer everything I hoped it would, but it is, perhaps a start. I would highly recommend Chokehold by Paul Butler, which, though I am only halfway through, has already taught me so much more about systemic racism in this country and how one might consider addressing it at all levels.

If you disagree with my assessment of the book, let's discuss, but do so respectfully.

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