Book Review: White Fragility

White Fragility

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People To Talk About Racism

Robin Diangelo

Beacon Press

Nonfiction

2018

978-0807047415

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Important Review

I had not read the book, but now have ordered it. The focus brought to mind the bravery and true genius of social work pioneers. To explain: When I was in grad school, the schools of social work were divided (quite bitterly!) between Diagnostic Freudian Schools and Functional Schools, based on the findings of Otto Rank. Rank, the father of time-limited interactive therapy, had been the youngest member (and the only non-physician) included in Freud's initial Viennese Circle. He was cruelly rejected by Freud (and banned from the Circle) after his publication of "The Trauma of Birth," as Freud viewed the Rankian premise of the pain of separation and individuation as hostile to the Freudian concentration on resolving the oedipal conflict in order to achieve a mature ability to love and work. My first year of graduate school was at Catholic U's diagnostic National Catholic School of Social Service. My second year was at the U of P's School of Social Work, now the School of Social Practice and Policy, or SP2, which had been the founding school of functional social work. Each school was superb, with a devoted faculty. At Penn, however, we were never taught to diagnose. Instead, we studied literature, biographies, and journals in order to understand an individual's "patterns and process" from birth to death. The focus was the necessity of seeing (and feeling!) the pain involved in life's chapters, in order to be astute social workers. I was a student at Penn in the early to mid years of the civil rights movement. At the height of the movement, under the deanship of Louise Shoemaker, Dr. Shoemaker changed academic focus to the examination of racism in each individual and this impact on our institutions -- and the pain this brings to our most vulnerable population, and this danger to the welfare of America. Students were expected to examine the racism within themselves, as well as examine the racism in each of their placement settings. You can imagine the impact of this insightful, brave, focus. Louise Shoemaker's emphasis was widely condemned, and yet she remained true to her prescient beliefs. Her work continues to develop, though usually without her recognition. She and so many others in our field are representative of our proud, brave roots and the many social work pioneers who, despite deep opposition, continue to strengthen and offer hope in the most challenging and complicated of times.

SaraKay Smullens 171 days ago

White Fragility Comments

Thank you for your thoughts and comments!

Lisa Eible 129 days ago

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