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Book Circles

Staff and Faculty Invited to Summer Book Club

“What Does it Mean to be White? Developing White Racial Literacy”
by Robin DiAngelo

The Gender Equity Center and the Center for Teaching and Learning invite 15 staff and faculty to participate in a summer book club. Apply here by July 2nd! Full participation in this book circle counts for two opportunities toward the BUILD Certificate Program. Find more information about BUILD here.

Why talk about whiteness?

Being white isn’t something our office usually talks much about–we want to change that.  As an office staffed primarily by white people, we recognize that we often experience our race as invisible and we don’t often reflect on what it means to be white.  Reflecting on our experiences, and privilege, however, is central in coming to better understand how we participate in and uphold racism in individual interactions, communities, organizations, and systems–whether or not we mean to.  

books in a circle image

This conversation on white privilege and what it means to be white is important, so we are turning to a book called, “What Does it Mean to be White:Developing White Racial Literacy”, which was written by Robin DiAngelo, one of the presenters at our Compassionate Communities conference last November (her presentation can be accessed at 47:30:

We, as staff at the Gender Equity Center and Center for Teaching and Learning, recognize this as an opportunity to take off our hats and leave our roles at the door, to be vulnerable and present with each other, and open and eager learners.  We want you to join us.

Who is this discussion group for?

The primary audience for this book is white people; folks of all identities who are interested in exploring concepts in this book are welcome to join this discussion group.  Please make sure you can attend all (or the majority) of the group discussions, as we want to be building trust and growing knowledge together, as a group.

What will our gatherings be like?

Each week the group members will read the designated chapters and come together to talk about them in more detail. This is an opportunity for us to continue to grow and learn together. This book has discussion questions at the close of each chapter that serve as a foundation to focus our discussion in a productive manner.

As we progress through the weeks, our goal is to rotate facilitators, and explore different methods of reflecting on content in the chapters, as they relate to our lives.  We invite participants to use the questions at the end of each chapter and to consider facilitating sessions based in journaling, art, storytelling, etc. More information on this will be shared at our first gathering and more details on what to read will be provided, following registration.

What is the book about?

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 world views. 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. What Does It Mean To Be White? is written an accessible introduction to white identity from an anti-racist framework.

ISBN: 9781433131103 1433131102

Is there a cost?

Participants will need to access a copy of the book to participate in discussion sessions.  The book is available on Amazon and through Interlibrary loan.  The first five people to sign up will receive a free copy of the book (courtesy of the Gender Equity Center and the Center for Teaching and Learning) and will be notified via email.

There are no additional costs associated with participating in the discussion.


We will gather on Wednesdays from 12 – 1:30 p.m. starting on Wednesday, July 11, location TBD. The group will begin with five meetings and we will together to assess how quickly to move through the book as identify well as future meeting locations and facilitators. Participants should be able to attend at least four of the first five meetings. The first five meeting dates are: 7/11, 7/18, 7/25, 8/1, 8/8.

How Do I sign up?

Find the application at this link. Apply by July 2nd.
Thank you!  We are eager to join up and begin this important journey together.  If you have any questions, please contact Csea Leonard at or 208-426-4259.