Robin DiAngelo Discusses “White Fragility”
Antiracist educator, Dr. Robin DiAngelo will be reading from “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.”
Antiracist educator Robin DiAngelo first coined the term “white fragility” in 2011, and since then it’s been invoked by critics from Samantha Bee to Charles Blow. As DiAngelo explains,”White people in North America live in a society that is deeply separate and unequal by race, and white people are the beneficiaries of that separation and inequality. As a result, white people within this society are protected and insulated from racial stress, while simultaneously feeling entitled to our advantage. Given how rare it is for white people to experience racial discomfort in a society we dominate, we haven’t had to build our racial stamina. Socialized into a deeply internalized and often unconscious sense of superiority, we become highly fragile in conversations about race. We experience a challenge to our racial worldviews as a challenge to our very identities as good, moral people. Thus, we perceive any attempt to connect us to the system of racism as a very unsettling and unfair moral offense. Even a minimal amount of racial stress is intolerable – the mere suggestion that being white has meaning often triggers a range of defensive responses. These responses include emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and withdrawal. The goal of these responses is to reinstate white equilibrium, repel the challenge, return our racial comfort, and maintain our dominance within the racial hierarchy. I conceptualize this process as white fragility. Though white fragility is triggered by discomfort and anxiety, it is born of superiority and entitlement. It is not weakness per se – in fact, it is a powerful means of white racial control and the protection of white advantage.” In this book, DiAngelo draws on examples from her work and scholarship, as well as from the culture at large, to address these fundamental questions: How does white fragility develop? What does it look like? How is it triggered? How does it function? How can white people develop their capacity to engage more constructively across race?
Library events and programs are free and everyone is welcome. Registration is not required.
This event is supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation, author series sponsor Gary Kunis, and media sponsor The Seattle Times and presented in partnership with University Book Store. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Parking in the Central Library garage will be available for $6 after 5 p.m.