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

Welcome to the Ohio State University Libraries guide to "White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism."

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White Fragility Book Cover

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The Ohio State University Libraries provides access to a wide variety of resources. This page features resources that can help you explore themes in White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.

Author's Books

DiAngelo, Robin. What Does It Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy. Rev. NY: Peter Lang, 2012.

Sensoy, Özlem and DiAngelo, Robin. Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education. NY: Teachers College Press, 2012. 

DiAngelo, Robin. White Fragility:Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism. Boston:  Beacon Press, 2018.

About the Book

Welcome to The Ohio State University Libraries Guide to "White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism" by Robin DiAngelo, This guide offers resources for those who want to explore issues central to the book.


About the book

White Fragility:
Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism

Dr. Robin DiAngelo explores the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.  Antiracist educator, Professor Robin DiAngelo, describes the phenomenon of white fragility and the practice of racism. She explains the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, Dr. DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what we can do to engage more constructively.

How does White Fragility relate to my life experience?
You will find many themes and events in the book that relate to your life. During your lifetime, you will encounter new  communities, cultures, ideas, and relationships. 

  • equity
  • community activism
  • decision-making
  • economic injustice  
  • policing
  • implicit bias
  • anti-racism
  • white fragility 
  • mass incarceration
  • white privilege
  • social justice
  • institutional racism

Discussion Questions

Questions for readers (adapted fromWhite Fragility Reading Guide
We hope you enjoy reading "White Fragility."

  1. Identify a passage from chapter 1 that invokes any sense of discomfort. Highlight this passage and return to reading it periodically as you work through the book. What does this passage reveal about your socialization into the white racial frame? Does your discomfort shift over time? If so, what supported that shift?
  2. The author traces some of the specific ways that her life has been shaped by racism. Consider your own socialization. In what specific ways has your life been shaped by racism? (If you are white, try to answer this question without mentioning people of color).
  3. The author suggests that one of the most effective barriers to talking about racism with white
    people is the good/bad binary. How have you seen this binary underlying common white responses to charges of racism? How might you respond when the binary surfaces in discussions about racism? 
  4. Why are white people more receptive to other white people (rather than people of color) educating them on race? What does this say about the role white people must play in addressing systemic racism in society broadly and specifically in our homes, with our friends and family members, and in our workplaces with our colleagues?
  5. White women often assume a shared sisterhood with women of color. What is problematic about this assumption?
  6. The author presents a set of eleven “cardinal rules” (pp. 123-24) when giving feedback to white people regarding racist assumptions and patterns. For each rule of engagement, provide an example of the rule in action.
  7. In 2020, thousands of Ohioans participated in Black Lives Matter protests. How would you define the Black Lives Matter movement to a White person who feels threatened using White Fragility's antiracism framework?

White Fragility Reading Guide by Dr. Özlem Sensoy and Dr. Robin DiAngelo


African American & African Studies Librarian, Anthropology Librarian, and Comparative Studies Librarian




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