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Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” Celebrates More Than 6 Months as a New York Times Bestseller

Robin DiAngelo and White Fragility
Author photo: Gabriel Solis

We’ve reached another milestone with Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, celebrating thirty-three weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List! It’s climbed as high as number two in the listing. And now, we’re excited to announce that we’re signing a second book with DiAngelo that will build on the conversation that started with White Fragility. The follow-up book will explore the need for white people to break with white solidarity in order to better support efforts toward racial equality. It is tentatively scheduled for release in late fall 2020 or spring 2021.

“We did not imagine that this book would become the fastest selling book in Beacon’s history,” our director Helene Atwan said. “It says so much about this moment in our nation, where we’ve heard repeatedly about a surge in white supremacist movements, that a book like Robin’s can serve as such a powerful counter to those ideologies and make such an impact. It gives me renewed hope that the arch of history is bending toward justice, no matter what we’ve witnessed in the last two years.”

DiAngelo has worked in the field of racial justice as an associate professor, sociologist, and educator for more than two decades. After coining the term “White Fragility” in 2011, she has become one of the most sought-after voices in the public conversation about whiteness and white reactions to the topic of race. Editor Rachael Marks notes that the book’s success makes clear that readers connected with the idea that white people need to start taking responsibility for their role in systemic racism, despite how difficult the task may seem. “The response has been incredible and heartening, because this isn’t an easy book, especially for white progressives,” she said. “Robin doesn’t peddle in white guilt or shame, but at the same time she doesn’t hold back any punches. It’s been incredible to see white readers acknowledge discomforting truths about the damage we often unintentionally inflict on people of color. Many report that they put down this book more prepared to upset the status quo, to come out of our racial comfort zones and do the hard work of looking in the mirror and begin chipping away at white supremacy.”

While on tour discussing her life’s work, DiAngelo draws in tens of thousands of people to events across the country, and more recently, across the globe. Having recently returned from a series of successful events in Australia earlier this winter, and with forthcoming stops planned in Canada and the UK, the message of White Fragility continues to inspire readers to reassess their role in their communities, workplaces, and society as a whole. Resources that will help readers understand and utilize the book more fully are also available. You can download our discussion guide and also one developed specifically for Unitarian Universalist communities. A guide for K-12 educators is also in development.

Despite the overwhelmingly positive response, there is still much work to be done. Not everyone has been open to the challenging message about learning to understand and overcome one’s own inherent racism. Negative reviews and hate mail continue to come through from readers who are offended by the book’s content. Meanwhile, our bus ads promoting the book were rejected by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (whose people in charge of approving ads may not have liked the cover and title—an example of peak white fragility if you ask us!) and by the Washington (DC) Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. But we did get to see them in Atlanta buses!

What is there to do until DiAngelo comes out with her next book? If you’re white and reading this post, continue to confront and challenge your white fragility. As she writes in her op-ed in the Guardian, that entails “acknowledging ourselves as racial beings with a particular and limited perspective on race.” This demands courage and constant work, and our discussion guide provides the structure for these difficult yet necessary conversations. If you’re looking for additional resources, DiAngelo has a selection listed on her website. Dismantling white supremacy starts here.