White Fragility

by Robin DiAngelo

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What are some strategies for positive change in White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo?

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DiAngelo writes that white people have built up many defensive strategies that help protect them from dismantling white superiority. These strategies protect whites from really engaging in racial change. For example, some white people claim that they are individuals and therefore are not personally racist, but they do not acknowledge that they are part of a larger racist system.

In addition, many whites contend that they are not racist if they do not commit violent acts of racism. However, this definition of racism does not acknowledge that other, less violent actions can also be racist. To carry out change, whites must acknowledge that racism can take many forms and that we are all subject to racism in our society. In addition, to change this situation and effect positive change, DiAngelo suggests that whites truly listen when they receive feedback about racism and that they even thank the person giving the feedback. She suggests that these moments are opportunities for learning and change.

The author believes that white people have to improve what she refers to as their "racial stamina" (128) to bring about change. That is, they cannot so easily become upset and defensive or demand to be in situations that they can trust. These types of demands serve to uphold white racial superiority and the coddling of whites during anti-racism training. White people instead need to receive and hear feedback and not always demand that the situation has to be pleasant and easy for them. Instead, they must accept that learning about race and effecting change can at times be difficult and destabilizing.

The author also suggests that whites do not always rely on people of color to speak about their experiences of race and to explain racism to whites. Instead, she suggests that whites start to do their own research through books, films, the historical record, and other sources. In addition, she thinks that white people should begin to ask for more courses on race in schools and colleges so that they can educate themselves about racism and the forms it takes in society.

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