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What Does It Mean to Be White?

Developing White Racial Literacy


Robin diAngelo

What does it mean to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless yet is deeply divided by race? In the face of pervasive racial inequality and segregation, most whites cannot answer that question. Robin DiAngelo argues that a number of factors make this question difficult for whites miseducation about what racism is; ideologies such as individualism and colorblindness; defensiveness; and a need to protect (rather than expand) our worldviews. These factors contribute to what she terms white racial illiteracy. Speaking as a white person to other white people, Dr. DiAngelo clearly and compellingly takes readers through an analysis of white socialization. She describes how race shapes the lives of white people, explains what makes racism so hard for whites to see, identifies common white racial patterns, and speaks back to popular white narratives that work to deny racism. Written as an accessible introduction to white identity from an anti-racist framework, What Does It Mean To Be White? is an invaluable resource for members of diversity and anti-racism programs and study groups and students of sociology, psychology, education, and other disciplines.