White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism (2018), by Robin DiAngelo
This book explores the facets of criticisms and the ingrained, bred-and-born mindset of white supremacist beliefs against racism. Raised not to see their people group as a race, those who identify as white have learned to view the world through colorblind lenses that hold two primary shades: individualism and objectivity. In their individualized and objective stance, it is hard for those who identify as white to witness the consequences of systemic racism and to personally identify as racist. The fragility explored here relents to the pushback of a commonly believed myth: to identify as a racist is to identify as a morally bad person. To identify as racist is a moral offense and henceforth unacceptable and intolerable.
DiAngelo pushes back against this with the proposal that people who identify as white must first change their “worldly sorrow” to a “godly sorrow” through repentance, recognize the dimensions of racial stress felt on a daily basis in others and themselves, and grow their understanding in how to address racism through colored lenses of intersectionality.
Straightforward and confrontational yet gracious, DiAngelo speaks with an authority that breaks down the myths and common pushbacks that assemble the minds of white fragility.
How to Be an Antiracist (2019) by Ibram X. Kendi
Ibram X. Kendi is the founding director of two antiracist centers, one at American University and one at Boston University, and is a leading voice of antiracism. How to Be an Antiracist definitively defines racism and what it means to be racist.
The color blindness instituted in our society through racist policies has spread like metastatic colon cancer, attacking beyond our “colon-ialized” individual battles in understanding how we ourselves can be racist into our polarized body of society. There is a fine line between being a racist and being an antiracist, with no middle ground.
To be an antiracist is not only to work toward instituting antiracist policies but also to work against color blindness: a racist technique that emphasizes racial neutrality to bring a superficial equity that only feeds racist policies and, consequently, systemic racism. To be an antiracist is to work toward policies that fight not only against Black and white racial disparities but also against disparities of all kinds: ageism, ableism, sexism, gender disparities, etc.
How to Be an Antiracist is woven together with a balanced discussion between the consequent disparities of instituted racist policies and Kendi’s own anecdotes. Kendi is able to write with a straightforward but intricate approach that breaks down the boundaries and blinding limitations of our overt and hidden racism regardless of our socioeconomic power status in correspondence to institutional racist power.