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Week Three — White Fragility


In her book, White Fragility, author Robin DiAngelo walks the reader through an understanding of how white people are the beneficiaries of racial separation and inequality; are separated from racial stress; and feel entitled to and deserving of our advantages.

DiAngelo contends that “given how seldom we experience racial discomfort in a society we dominate, we haven’t had to build our racial stamina” and as a result, racial stress is often intolerable for white people and triggers responses of “anger, fear, guilt, argumentation, silence, withdrawal, certitude, and other forms of pushback.”

She posits that racism is a system into which white people are socialized and that it is white fragility that holds racism in place.

But naming and seeing whiteness is different than disarming and disrupting it. To step out of whiteness, we must shift from awareness to action.

We disarm, dismantle, and disrupt racism when we:

  • minimize our defensiveness
  • demonstrate our vulnerability
  • show up with curiosity and humility
  • allow for growth
  • stretch our worldview
  • ensure action
  • demonstrate that we practice what we profess to value
  • build authentic relationships and trust
  • interrupt privilege-protecting comfort
  • interrupt internalized superiority


In Lauren Michele Jackson’s thoughtful essay in Slate, we are challenged to the delicate dance of both “turning towards and away” from our whiteness.  Both must happen.  It is not enough to see our whiteness; we must dismantle it.

Give careful consideration this week to the ways that you are looking at your own whiteness; how you see it manifesting in your interactions in the world; and how you are actively interrupting it and changing how you show up through new actions that are based in this awareness.  How are you vowing to be a disrupter of racism?  How are you holding yourself accountable to action? Bring these insights for our small group conversations.



White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo, article for the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (2011).  The book of the same title was written after this article.

4 Ways White People Can Process Their Emotions Without Bringing the White Tears by Jennifer Loubriel for Everyday Feminism

When the ‘White Tears’ Just Keep Coming by Leah Donnella for National Public Radio’s “Code Switch.”

What’s Missing from “White Fragility” by Lauren Michele Jackson for Slate

Whiteness is a Thing by Heather Mizeur for Medium



Robin DiAngelo is a guest on Layla Saad’s #GoodAncestor podcast to discuss White Fragility in Ep011 (1 hour 21 minutes)

Authors Resmaa Menakem and Robin DiAngelo discuss the topic of White Fragility during this In Conversation episode with Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast (51 minutes)

[FULL] Audio Book:  The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin read by Jesse L. Martin ( 2 hours 25 minutes)



For anyone working with the full text of the book, White Fragility, a guidebook with questions to consider as you work through each chapter and a worksheet on reimagining the white rules of engagement.