Acutely Relevant


White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Diangelo
Beacon Pres, June 26, 2018

“Interrupting racism takes courage and intentionality,” says Dr. Robin Diangelo in White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. As Diangelo argues, however, for white people, such courage and intentionality is often overwhelmed by their own defensiveness and fragility when they are implicated in white supremacy. White fragility, which Diangelo defines as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves,” is inextricably tied to a particular aspect of white privilege – namely, that white people believe they are unique individuals who transcend generalization, resulting in their inability to see themselves in racial terms. “When pressed to do so,” says Diangelo, “[white people] refuse to engage further.” Diangelo, who has a Ph.D in Multicultural Education and has spent over two decades leading diversity and cultural competency trainings for companies and other institutions, steadies much of her focus on white liberals (like herself): “To the degree that white progressives think we have arrived, we will put our energy into making sure that others see us as having arrived.” The consequences of this behavior, Diangelo asserts, are deeply damaging. To be sure, how white privilege is explored and engaged is acutely relevant and important within independent schools, and this book – particularly its final chapter, “Where Do We Go From Here?” – should be required reading.

Submitted By: Jessica Flaxman, Admission Counselor, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

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