Books

Book Review – White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People to Talk About Racism

white fragility
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Drift or Shift? (PTM 214)
Comments (3)
  1. Toviyah says:

    Hello Thomas W.,

    As the author stated, Dr. Robin DiAngelo is a white lady. You, however, are not a white lady. Now do the math !

    Peace and Love (Jude 1:2)

    Toviyah

    1. Thomas W. says:

      Why would her color and/or gender matter in the context of the argument she presents?

      I can easily find a black, female conservative that would reject the premise she posits.

      My comments are to the logic being used, not her personally. And her argument isn’t dependent on her color/gender.

  2. Thomas W. says:

    Tim,

    I appreciate the book review. I’m going to try keep this to a couple of points:

    1. If the effort is to not bash white people, then the term “White Fragility” is not very persuasive. This compounds how they may take this by being seen as weak in a variety of capacities. It will come across as an insult. (How does it sound if it were “Black Fragility”, as for instance if one attempts a point of argument regarding lack of black fatherhood in the demographics ?)

    As a part of this concept, did the book discuss how much of a two way street this can be? Was “black fragility” considered? How often do white people who do, or have attempted, to have a good conversation on the matter are met with an emotional response of anger, crying, or other as well? Or worse, would you not expect a white person to be upset, frustrated, and even unhelpful if he were receiving charges of being a racist or supremacist while in conversation, attempting to talk about these things (esp if the other person shares Dr. Diangelo’s definition)?
    How about a different subject where this occurs where race isn’t the issue? Ever seen a Christian vs Atheist conversation/debate? What’s the root of the responses? How does anyone take it when they are told they are “wrong”?

    Or in some ways, ever tried to fix a problem your wife brings you, esp one that’s deeply emotional?

    2. A major part of the tension arising is largely because we tend toward our own definitions, and then interpreting someone else’s response through our world view/definitions and not theirs. We often then challenge their character when there’s a lack of response, or we shut down, not willing to risk ourselves anymore, not out of apathy, but lack of equal consideration and value. This is the crux of how Dr. Di’angelo shifts the goal posts/context. But you can’t understand the actions of others by changing the context usually. It just becomes confirmation bias. However, their actions are a result of their definition, not someone else’s.

    So when she then uses current corporate and political racial demographics as supporting fact, it is by her terms, pulled through her lens. Thus, she assumes and mind reads a response like “apathy”.

    The white thought process in response to the demographics would be something along the following as an example:

    a. It’s true that many corporations and politicians are predominately white in leadership.
    b. However, no laws currently force that situation. Business is free.
    c. For politics, we can vote for anyone running, and anyone is free to run. Often minorities vote for white people all the same. Many whites and others elected a black president, many supported a Ben Carson, and many white conservatives would vote an Ivanka/Candace Owens presidency into office tomorrow.
    d. For sports, many of these are owned by generations of families, and corporations. They are sold rarely, but there is nothing in the laws that prevent anyone from purchasing if put on the market. Michael Jordan wasn’t blocked by law or by other owners, underhandedly. The NBA has forced out a racist owner.
    e. Most millionaires are over 50. You’re just now a couple of generations past civil rights acts. It takes time for most to build up wealth, and the wealth needed to purchase a NFL team or run for a major political office is substantial.
    f. There also has to be a desire for those things (politics, team ownership) from African Americans. It’s okay to have other interests in general.
    g. Any instance by which an African American has the opportunity, desire, and capability to purchase a team (or run for office) and is denied either by law or underhanded tactics is wrong, and the white person readily agrees should be corrected.
    h. As of 2013, millionaires were 76% white, 8% black, 8% asian, about 8% hispanic. By contrast, 12% of the country is african american. This means we should see the percentage that’s lagging go up as economic opportunity continues to grow for African Americans. And over time, it’s likely color disparity in politics and ownership will reflect national demographics.

    So the questions may become, “what do you want to do to shift this disparity that hasn’t already been done, or can this now be handled on a case by case basis when it occurs?”

    The reality, Tim, is that younger generations are further removed from the overt white supremacy and systemic racism it caused. The reality is that if we continue to perpetuate such accusations of blame, we will profit nothing but more division.
    “White fragility” and her definition of white supremacy are detrimental to forward progress.

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