Three Books to Help You Understand White Privilege & Fragility

It only takes one look at the comments section of any #BlackLivesMatter post to see just how uneducated some White folks are about issues of racial injustice and police brutality. On the one hand, and as a White person, I understand that it is easy to be uninformed on these topics, because we simply do not experience it daily or in every aspect of our lives. But, on the other hand, it is 2020 folks. Technology has placed information literally at your fingertips. So, let us take a break from playing Stardew Valley, let us switch off Netflix for once, and let us try to understand our own privilege and learn how to best support Black people and people of colour in their struggle towards racial liberation. 

In this article, I explore three best-seller books for you to read as a start to understanding the vast racial inequalities in our societies and our outrage:

Encountering Apartheid’s Ghosts (by Leon Wessels) – This recently released gem is an inspiring journey from the depths of Apartheid to where we are now. Written by an Afrikaner lawyer whose education was rooted in ideas of white superiority, his tale shows how one can overcome your conservative and biased background of being White. His book revisits our historical milestones and explores the gruesome legacies of Apartheid. His story as a courageous politician, a progressive lawyer, and an activist is an inspiration of how white people can change their mindset and contribute to combatting racial inequalities.

White Fragility – Why it is so hard for white people to talk about racism (by Robin DiAngelo) – An international best-seller, and my favourite must-read book. It addresses one integral part of racism: “White people do not want to talk about race." White fragility describes the defensiveness that White people exhibit when their ideas about race and racism are challenged or when they feel implicated in ideas of white supremacy. DiAngelo explores how our still segregated society insulates White people from racial discomfort, which makes them fall apart when they are confronted. She explains why we are so offended by racial triggers like, “Dear White People” on Netflix or #BlackLivesMatter. This is an excellent read to make yourself and others around you aware how problematic our immediate defensiveness can be. 

The Black and the Blue: A cop reveals the crimes, racism and injustice in America’s law enforcement (by Matthew Horace and Ron Harris) – The murder of yet another Black man, George Floyd, by cops in Minneapolis, has made this book more relevant than ever. This book is not for the faint-hearted. It contains gut-wrenching personal accounts from interviews with law enforcement officials that will show you the brutal and violent racism perpetuated by those we task with protecting our lives. This book unpacks some of America’s most horrifying police shootings, based on race, which will open your eyes to the oppression of Black people and people of colour in a way that you can never again turn a blind eye.

It is time for White folks like us to take a stance. We need to stand by our friends and family who are Black or people of colour. We need to do this even when it is not comfortable or convenient, even when we face backlash, even when we lose things dear to us. We can no longer stay silent; we can no longer not choose sides. It is time to join in the fight.

I will leave you with the words of Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”