The Book Nook
Le Coin Lecture
Curl up and grab one of these books to help you navigate the work that's ahead.
This list is meant to help, challenge, and encourage discussions around DEI, Anti-Racism and Emerging Leadership practices.
June 1, 2022
Credit: MPR News
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
What's this about?
Formerly a tenured professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University and currently an affiliate associate professor of education at the University of Washington, DiAngelo walks her readers through the meaning of white fragility in all its manifestations through North-American and Western society, and gives us examples of her lived experiences as a DEI facilitator interacting. The book is meant to encourage white people to self-reflect and open up to meaningful conversations of race and racism.
DEI, Allyship, White Supremacy, Accountability, Binary Thinking
What We Liked
Although the author misses the mark on many occasions, we cannot say that there weren't learning moments in the book. More specifically, many of her anecdotes of facilitating workshops and having casual, yet racially-charged, conversations with friends and family depict moments that are incredibly relatable whether you're the intended white audience or a person of colour (non-Black). The book made us question similar conversations in our lives and ask ourselves how it would have gone differently and how we can take actions to change them the next time.
What this book is : First steps, dipping your toes into the topic and getting to dive into the rest of the research and learning process.
What this book isn't : a long-term plan. This book will not offer you new measurable action items to spark real change in a dynamic or scalable way, especially if you are Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Colour.
"The good/bad binary certainly obscures the structural nature of racism and it makes is difficult for us to see or understand. Equally problematic is the impact of such a worldview on our actions. Is, as a white person, I conceptualize racism as a binary and I place myself on the "not racist" side, what further action is required of me? No action is required, because I am not racist. Therefore, racism is not my problem; it doesn't concern me and there is nothing further I need to do. This worldview guarantees that I will not build my skills in thinking critically about racism or use my position to challenge racial inequality." - p.73, Chapter 5: The Good/Bad Binary
Get the Gist
Find her essay on this book on her Medium.
How does it fare?
"When writers who are this sure of their convictions turn out to make a compelling case, it is genuinely exciting. This is sadly not one of those times, even though white guilt and politesse have apparently distracted many readers from the book’s numerous obvious flaws."
- John Whorter, The Atlantic
"DiAngelo’s error is that she focuses excessively on interpersonal interactions between white people and people of color, and therefore sees fixing racism as more about perfecting those interactions rather than eliminating large-scale racial inequities like the Black-white wealth gap, the racial gap in school quality/healthcare, and mass incarceration."
- Nathan J. Robinson, Current Affaires