Book Review: White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism


This is a rare examination of the concept of White supremacy. The book explores the notions and underlying beliefs which are perpetuated by the white people and the ideologies that serve to perpetuate racism. The author looks into the defensive moves assumed by white people when encountered by racism such as silence, anger, and guilt. The anti-racism educator further discusses measures that can be taken to reduce racism in the society.  The book is a bit discomfiting for white people but it is also very informative. This book White Fragility is necessary because it stirs racial humility in the reader.

The authors boldly dissect the complex racial dilemma that is faced by White people in the United States and elsewhere. The author acknowledges that White people face some challenges that make the fragile to racism. They were raised in environment where they are not taught about racism and being exposed to racial discomfort that comes with being identified with one’s color. The other challenge highlighted by the authors is that every white person has an opinion about racism but the opinion is mostly misinformed. The authors claim that white people do not understand socialisation and its role in one’s success. They claim that the western ideologies of individualism and objectivity are usually great obstacles in exploring racism in the society. Individualism exhorts people to focus on their capabilities and uniqueness and holds that group factors such as race play no role in influencing the opportunities accessible to the individuals.  Individualism claims that failure is a result of individual choice and not a factor of social structures within the society. According to individualism, race is irrelevant to one’s success. Based on this, the author argues that most people in western countries have a simplistic view and understanding of racism.

The authors debunk the concept of racism and explain that race is a product of racism. Racism is mostly a concept of exploitation and discrimination of people. Exploitation occurs first before explanations about color. It is exploitation that precedes the race based explanations on why exploitation happened.  Race is an evolving social idea. The term white first appeared in 1600. For instance, in 1922 the Supreme Court of United States claimed that Japanese could not be classified as White because they were scientifically categorized as Mongoloid. Therefore, racism is an embedded institutional power that promotes race based discrimination and cannot change direction just because some few people of color have excelled. This is because whiteness is a position of status that comes with the legal, economic, political and social privileges that are denied to others. The author further shows that white supremacy acts as if it is the norm. While all other forms of social stratification are studied and explained extensively, there are no studies that are wholly dedicated to the examination of white supremacy. White supremacy is never recognized or acknowledged.

The authors acknowledge that tackling racism is an ongoing process which does not happen at once. The authors emphatically stress that anti-racism is not about niceness and smiling at people of different races. It takes more than that. It entails having most discourses about racism and how it is embedded in the all aspects of the society and the steps that can be taken to minimize racism. The book is an eye opener on issues of racism and helps one to appreciate the effort being put by different groups to overcome racism.

The book is a good read in the wake of George Floyd killing which sparked a wave of protests in the United States. You can have get this book from Amazon by clicking the image below.

Published by Samuel Ng'ang'a Mwangi

One day I had too much to tell but there was no one to tell the story. I had to write articles, print them and then give them out to anyone who cared to read. Author of "So You Want To Get Into Courtship?" A Guide To Purposeful Christian Courtship. I write and rewrite on my blog www.mwelisa.com.

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