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White Fragility Summary

White Fragility is a 2018 book by sociologist Robin DiAngelo. This book was written after DiAngelo spent decades learning about and teaching about race in academic and organizational settings and found a pattern that white people exhibit when confronted with discussions about race, racism, and white supremacy. White supremacy is defined as people who are identified as white benefiting from the privileges of racism, such as having more access to jobs, wealth, housing, and safety than people of color.

In chapter 1, "The Challenges of Talking to White People About Racism," DiAngelo discusses the concept of "individualism." Individualism is as a belief that is foundational to racist, US society and allows white people to believe that their opinions, feelings, and beliefs are purely individual and that, therefore, when confronted with race or racism, they have nothing to do with the structural system of white supremacy. Because white people are taught that they are individuals, when they are confronted with race issues, they distance themselves from the conversation in various ways, including becoming defensive.

In chapter 2, "Racism and White Supremacy," DiAngelo outlines what racism means, the differences between racial prejudice, racial discrimination, and racism, and what she calls the "white racial frame."

Chapter 3, "Racism after the Civil Rights Movement," outlines why white people do not know their racial history and how this contributes to racist attitudes such as "colorblindness." This attitude is often held by white progressives and liberals and, she says, "cause[s] the most daily harm to people of color."

In chapter 4, "How Does Race Shape the Lives of White People?," DiAngelo discusses the way that her life has been shaped by racism. She discusses "white racial belonging": messaging about whiteness and race, segregation, and an expectation of what she calls "white solidarity/racial silence" which allows whiteness to go unchallenged in white spaces and intensifies the discomfort and reactions that white people have when confronted with issues regarding race.

Chapter 5, "The Good/Bad Binary," outlines the ways that white people react to being called a racist and examines the binary of "good" and "bad" white people and how this undermines actual anti-racist solidarity with people of color.

Chapter 6, "Anti-Blackness," looks at the ways that Blackness and Black people are constructed as the "ultimate racial other."

"Triggers for White People" is chapter 7, and it looks at how "racial triggers," which can be anything from the term "wypipo" to being called out for racism, evoke “emotions such as anger, fear...

(The entire section is 629 words.)