White Fragility: Behind the Worldview


Unraveling the contemporary critical theory behind White Fragility is key to deciphering its meaning.

In our 2019 Gospel Coalition article “The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity,” Dr. Pat Sawyer and I recommended that Christians read White Fragility because it was —and is —the most popular example of a book rooted in contemporary critical theory, an ideology which is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity.

In this essay, I won’t address the text of White Fragility itself. Many different authors [1] [2] [3] from all over the political and religious spectrum, myself included, have explained in detail why the book’s central thesis and supporting claims are false, contradictory, and harmful. Instead, I want to focus on the overarching framework on which it is based. I worry that many Christians, because they are unfamiliar with contemporary critical theory, are misunderstanding DiAngelo’s book. Worse still, Christians may be unconsciously absorbing elements of its worldview without realizing it.

A helpful analogy might be to a Christian reading a Mormon book on parenting. While there may indeed be selected insights that he can appreciate, a Christian who is unfamiliar with Mormonism is likely to misinterpret Mormon references to “grace” or “the fatherhood of God” or “the eternal importance of family.” In the same way, Christians who come away from White Fragility thinking that DiAngelo is merely calling us to “be humble when talking about race” don’t fully understand what she’s saying. Putting White Fragility in the context of DiAngelo’s other writing will help us interpret her accurately.

Interlocking systems of oppression

DiAngelo’s book Is Everyone Really Equal? most clearly explains her ideology, …

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