Book Review: White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

White Fragility should be mandatory reading for all white people. Yep, I said it.

Most white people do not recognize their micro-aggressions against people of colour. They would never call someone an offensive racist name. They are truly appalled at the vicious murder of George Floyd. But, they don’t ‘get it’ that their buy-in to white privilege is part of the reason why that happened. To those who want to understand more – I challenge you to read this book and think about it. [Let me know-]

This book was written by a white woman who is a diversity trainer for corporate America. She does something most whites don’t usually do: challenge one another on white privilege and racism.

Her easy-to-read words will make many white people angry. They will shake their heads in denial (“not me, I have two black friends!”) and become defensive.

In particular, I challenge any white person who thinks they are not racist, to read this book and check yourselves.

You have your “I am not a racist” credentials intact, but you forget that your white skin automatically gives you a step up in life that is not available to us. White control over the reins of power is REAL. You stand on that high step and live your best life. Read this book and think it through.

Black folks seeking affirmation of our seething suppressed anger over the many things whites do to us and why they do it, should read this book. It will be a reiteration of what we have seen, heard, and felt all our lives. It reveals how whites defend white supremacy, justify one another and lash out at anyone who challenges their self-image.

I laugh when I think about how many white people will absolutely hate the author of this book. She exposes several ‘white secrets’ that most black folks have known all our lives.

I read it as an e-book and I plan to re-read it after I have had a chance to digest the great points that she makes. There is an extensive bibliography at the end of the book that should be perused as well.

So many of the author’s stories resonated with my own life.

A year ago a white woman insisted that she wanted to put her hands in my hair even after I said no. I wrote about it in my August 5, 2019, Windhoek Observer column (“Racism, ignorance or both?”).

My fellow (and now former) bridge club members, as I expected, invalidated me completely. I wrote that piece knowing that they would never ‘see me’ in what happened; they would only see themselves.
Of course, I had to endure “I am not a racist” credentials and then, “It is such a pity that you chose to publish this instead of understanding the situation. She was trying to be welcoming.”

One member of the group said it was a “so-called incident.” Quite outrageously, she denied my humanity further by saying that the lady, “merely tried to find something to chat about”. Another member was only worried that our club might not be invited to that card tournament again. I have saved these messages.

What I endured in that incident was one of the THOUSANDS of white microaggressions against my dignity over 50 years. And I am tired of having to grit my teeth and endure indignity and insult just to make other people comfortable.

Most white people do not like to hear these things; it makes them squirm. DiAngelo’s book discusses this point well. Explore your discomfort by reading this book.

White Fragility is an affirmation that my decision to claim my humanity even if it makes other people uncomfortable or angry is the right one.

Her book is an oxygen tank because I CAN’T BREATHE.

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