White Fragility Discussion Questions: 9 Exercises

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "White Fragility" by Robin J. DiAngelo. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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Do you need White Fragility discussion questions? How can a White Fragility discussion guide help you delve further into the themes of White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo?

These White Fragility discussion questions highlight meritocracy and how to challenge racism. Use this White Fragility discussion guide to better understand the book.

Read on for nine exercises on the list of White Fragility discussion questions.

White Fragility Discussion Questions

White fragility is the phenomenon by which white people become angry, defensive, or hostile when confronted with the idea that they are complicit in systemic racism. In White Fragility, author Robin DiAngelo examines its origins in the failure of white society to understand the structural nature of racism, explores the history of the existing racial hierarchy, and makes a powerful case for why it is incumbent upon white people to accept their individual and collective responsibility for white supremacy—and to do the difficult work of challenging it.

Question Meritocracy

Explore the fairness of outcomes in society with these White Fragility book club questions.

  • Do you believe that America is a meritocracy? Why or why not?
  • What accomplishments do you believe you’ve “earned”? Choose one accomplishment to examine more closely.
  • What aspects other than your own intelligence, motivation, and hard work might have contributed to this success?

Challenge Racism

Think about how you can push back against racist social conditioning.

  • Have you ever engaged in “race talk”? If so, briefly describe what was discussed and how discussions like these contribute to the reinforcement of the racial hierarchy.
  • Have you ruled out living in certain areas because of bad schools or declining property values? Do you think your concerns were warranted? Explain why or why not.
  • Whether or not you think your concerns were warranted, how do you think your actions, and the similar actions of other white people, have impacted the racial makeup of the communities you’ve ruled out?

Understand White Fragility

Explore the main takeaways from the book with these White Fragility book club questions.

  • If you feel threatened by someone suggesting you’ve made a racist comment, what is threatening about that suggestion? In other words, how does it pose a threat to you?
  • If you feel threatened, how can you fortify your own racial stamina?
  • What steps can you take to become more anti-racist?

These White Fragility discussion questions can help you unpack issues of race and the major themes in the book.

White Fragility Discussion Questions: 9 Exercises

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Robin J. DiAngelo's "White Fragility" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full White Fragility summary:

  • Why white people become defensive when confronted with the idea of racism
  • How today's racial hiearchy began in roots centuries ago
  • How we as society can gradually overcome our deep racial divides

Rina Shah

An avid reader for as long as she can remember, Rina’s love for books began with The Boxcar Children. Her penchant for always having a book nearby has never faded, though her reading tastes have since evolved. Rina reads around 100 books every year, with a fairly even split between fiction and non-fiction. Her favorite genres are memoirs, public health, and locked room mysteries. As an attorney, Rina can’t help analyzing and deconstructing arguments in any book she reads.

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