Article: White Fragility


[One of the suggested readings from my class White People Challenging Racism was a bit longer and more academic than the other readings, many of which are personal stories. This stood out to me in part for its familiarity — an academic text on race similar to those I read in college. But also because of the message: “White racism is ultimately a white problem and the burden for interrupting it belongs to white people,” which is one of the themes of the course. Furthermore, it charts specifically the ways in which whites, even (and perhaps especially) well-meaning white liberals, fail to address their racial identity and privilege, and engage in meaningful anti-racist work. I think this is critical work for coalition building. DiAngelo has written an piece that requires returning to for self-reflection.]

White Fragility 

By Robin DiAngelo

White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This paper explicates the dynamics of White Fragility. 

I am a white woman. I am standing beside a black woman. We are facing a group of white people who are seated in front of us. We are in their workplace, and have been hired by their employer to lead them in a dialogue about race

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