Robin DiAngelo has a brand new book

March 10, 2021 • 12:15 pm

Shoot me now! And I haven’t yet finished DiAngelo’s entire first book, White Fragility (it’s online at the U of C library, but I hate reading online, so I can only read bits at a time). I just finished Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, which was tolerable, but only with the concomitant consumption of a Family Pack of Mint Oreos (they were on sale). I have a feeling that White Fragility, read from beginning to end, will require something a bit more alcoholic.

The new book (below) is issued by my own publisher, Penguin Random House (I call them “Random Penguin”). Fortunately, we don’t have to deal with this book until June 29, the day when it hits the newsstands.

Here’s the summary from the publisher’s website:

In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explained how racism is a system into which all white people are socialized and challenged the belief that racism is a simple matter of good people versus bad. DiAngelo also made a provocative claim: white progressives cause the most daily harm to people of color. In Nice Racism, her follow-up work, she explains how they do so. Drawing on her background as a sociologist and over 25 years working as an anti-racist educator, she picks up where White Fragility left off and moves the conversation forward.

Writing directly to white people as a white person, DiAngelo identifies many common white racial patterns and breaks down how well-intentioned white people unknowingly perpetuate racial harm. These patterns include:

-rushing to prove that we are “not racist”;
-downplaying white advantage;
-romanticizing Black, Indigenous and other peoples of color (BIPOC);
-pretending white segregation “just happens”;
-expecting BIPOC people to teach us about racism;
-carefulness;
-and shame.

DiAngelo explains how spiritual white progressives seeking community by co-opting Indigenous and other groups’ rituals create separation, not connection. [JAC: DiAngelo LOVES separation: her whole fame and fortune is based on perpetuating racial discord, not connection.] She challenges the ideology of individualism and explains why it is OK to generalize about white people, and she demonstrates how white people who experience other oppressions still benefit from systemic racism. Writing candidly about her own missteps and struggles, she models a path forward, encouraging white readers to continually face their complicity and embrace courage, lifelong commitment, and accountability.

Nice Racism is an essential work for any white person who recognizes the existence of systemic racism and white supremacy and wants to take steps to align their values with their actual practice. BIPOC readers may also find the “insiders” perspective useful for navigating whiteness.

The list of how we perpetuate racial harm is familiar, even the first point (“rushing to prove that we are ‘not racist'”), which is the point that makes the whole Critical Race Theory unfalsifiable. (Note the pejorative word “rushing”, which implies guilt.) If you say you’re not racist, you are. In fact, all white people are racist, and there’s nothing you can do to disprove that. It is, as John McWhorter would say, not a testable empirical statement, but a religious dictum.

I’m not sure why “carefulness” does harm, but her notion that progressive antiracists are the most harmful of all white people surely can’t hold water. Are there data on that? I’m sure that Bernie Sanders would be shocked to discover that he’s more harmful to African-Americans than, say, Mitch McConnell or David Duke.

And it’s okay to generalize about white people? Is it okay to generalize about black people, too?  In fact, both kinds of stereotype are attacked by Ibram Kendi in his antiracist book: he goes after policies, and refuses to countenance generalizations about individuals of a given group.  Finally, what is this odious “ideology of individualism”?  Is she talking about Ayn Rand here, or saying that tribalism is essential for a well functioning society?

I will finish White Fragility, but I am not going to read DiAngelo’s new book—not only on the grounds that it seems to make no points I haven’t heard before, but also because it could harm my health. Our arteries can take only so much pressure, you know.

 

48 thoughts on “Robin DiAngelo has a brand new book

  1. “it is OK to generalize about white people”.
    That’s all I need to know to be sure that this is garbage.

  2. “I have a feeling that White Fragility, read from beginning to end, will require something a bit more alcoholic.” – yup, I hope that your wine cellar is as copious as it seems!

  3. DiAngelo is white. Her whiteness means she’s racist and the last person I should listen to on the subject.

    1. But she’s a woman and uses the male spelling of her name just so that her intersectional quotient is sufficiently high…!

    2. She even admitted to her racism in “White Fragility.” (She didn’t think school principals could be black!) Her book was nothing but projection, and inaccurate history, and logical fallacies.
      Of course she comes out with another book after closing down her website and clamming up after it came out all her millions (and she made millions) were not going to the charities she claimed she was donating to.
      What a corporate shill. She’s the last person who would want to live in an equal society, which of course she claims, in true Zeno’s Paradox form, can never be achieved anyway. The working class that she punches down on must perpetually flog themselves without forgiveness or salvation, while she rakes in more millions.
      This is beyond religion. It’s another form of Scientology.

      1. I would read White Fragility for the entertainment value, but wouldn’t want to put any money in DiAngelo’s pocket (even the modest amount for a library loan). Luckily, our host is reading it so I don’t have to.

        1. If you’ve read “The Courage to Heal” (I did because my housemate went full Recovered Memory Syndrome), you’ve essentially read “White Fragility,” anyway.

      2. “Of course she comes out with another book after closing down her website and clamming up after it came out all her millions (and she made millions) were not going to the charities she claimed she was donating to.”

        Your claim may not be true. If you go to her website you will find a long discussion about her finances, donations, tax bracket, and average fees by year, as well as information about attacks from the right (including doxing and attacks on her family). I’ll quote one paragraph:

        “I had listed out all the organizations that benefited financially from my fundraising and donations during 2019 and 2020, but the Washington Free Beacon journalist began to contact these organizations and ask them to verify my donations. I am a private citizen and organizations are not obligated to release who their donors are or how much they donate, and they declined to do so. Further, many of the donations from fund-raising events came through the sponsoring org – Education for Racial Equity – so my name would not be listed as the donor. Declining to reveal my name and amount of donations was used by this journalist to suggest that I was lying about my donations because organizations “did not confirm.”

        1. I found the article again and you’re right – sorry. She scrubbed the site several times, though, which rather reminded me of William Dembski’s former blog, taking down some of his more embarrassing claims (hair-splitting, yes). I do know I and others couldn’t access her site at the time. Incidentally, this was shared by a friend who is rather “woke” – he was appalled.
          https://freebeacon.com/culture/the-wages-of-woke-2/?fbclid=IwAR1TfQL59R41xt_2lJwuFlv57iGgstlGcx8INjn55f3icXXBEaO4I73BJDo

  4. In my view, this is a con. Anti-racism books are similar to Intelligent Design books. One after another, always the same assertions, always lacking supporting data. Just a con. The real message is “Buy this book!” The real purpose of the message is “Make me wealthy!”

    1. Not only Intelligent Design books: Dietary books, motivational books, it is almost always the same scheme.

      Someone was in the right place at the right time and publishes exactly the words to electrify an uncritical crowd that is then willing to spend a lot of money for little that makes sense. To keep the money flowing, a sequel is released soon after, ostensibly to bring further insight, but in reality just the same words in a new guise.

    2. Well, I’d classify them more as self-help books. “…she models a path forward, encouraging white readers to continually face their complicity and embrace courage, lifelong commitment, and accountability” seems like language straight from their playbook. But yeah, con, whatever section of the bookstore you put it in.

    3. Hi Kurt, it’s not only those things…..They follow the same pattern as methodology as bunch of 1950/60s on the evils of homosexuality.

      In fact, after reading excerpts from DiAngelo’s book, I immediately thought of it as a kind of racialized gay convertion therapy.

      But it’s being read all over the place , including prestigious private schools.

      1. An article on what specifically? And where can it be read?

        It can’t be on how much DiAngelo reminded me of Joe Nicolosi’s work (I think)……and much more than that, alot of psychology’s pathologizing discourse of homosexuality.

        A big insight occurred when I quickly realized that the books on homosexuality were invariably an analysis of effeminacy displaced onto homosexuality……a fear of womanliness at the same time that Feminism was making big strides. Nothing to see there, you see!

  5. “it is OK to generalize about white people”. Not merely OK, but very, very lucrative, when done through right-thinking (i.e. left-thinking) clichés.

  6. Ok, we’ve had the first book, and there’s a followup book on the way. I guess the ‘Nice Racism’ film is next, eventually followed by the ‘Nice Racism’ musical.

    Cynical, moi?

  7. I don’t know what it means for her to write “to white people as a white person,” as I don’t feel there is a commonality to Caucasians based on skin color. It says something that she, or her publisher, do.

    1. I don’t get it either. She seems to think that whites are inherently racist, which keeps them from seeing “the truth”. But then she would also be suffering from this same condition and therefore anything she says about the matter is suspect.

      The parallels of her sermons to those of a Catholic priest about our original sin and resulting depraved state (for which we must beg for forgiveness) are too close for comfort for me.

  8. I’m making a belated New Year’s resolution. I won’t read any book or paper that uses the phrase “navigating whiteness” unless it’s in a derogatory manner.

  9. I’m so frustrated with progressive left and their half-baked attempts at defining racism. They don’t seem to get to the heart of why racism is wrong. It’s not just a matter of opinion…it should be clearly explained why racism is objectively incorrect, and then we can proceed to its harmful effects. I fear that post-modernism, with its apparent fear of objectivity, has performed a sort of a lobotomy on many leftist academics. Or, more cynically, these new definitions were devised as a way to excoriate white people for racist behavior, while giving non-whites a pass for the same type of behavior.

    What follows is a discussion of why I think racism is wrong, and it is heavily informed by my (albeit lay person level) understanding of biology. It is also testable and falsifiable.

    Racism is an error in assessing reality. The error lies in incorrectly dividing homo sapiens into discrete racial groups and consists of the following flawed concepts. First, it is assumed that a given racial group exhibits certain physical, behavioral, and cultural traits and capacities that are largely uniform within the group; in other words, there is low variability within each group. Second, the traits that define each group are largely exclusive to each group; there is little overlap between the groups.

    The practical result of these errors is that a racist assumes that an individual will automatically have certain traits and not others, simply based on that person’s race.

    This view is an error because it does not reflect the reality of homo sapiens for the vast majority of traits or characteristics used to describe our species. Even if we use “race” as a rough proxy for the more biologically sound concept of “population”, we see that a) variability within each “race” for many traits, particularly mental and behavioral, is in fact high and b) for most traits, in particular mental and behavioral, there is significant overlap between the groups.

    Therefore, if you try to assume a given set of traits about a person just based on their racial classification, particularly those of a cognitive and behavioral nature, you will very likely be making an error! For example, since musical ability is distributed equally among the races as far as we know, and is highly variable, simply knowing a given person’s race won’t help you much in predicting their musical proficiency. You would need a lot more information about that person to make that prediction.

    Note that this description of racism makes no reference to “power dynamics” when we are discussing the fundamental error. A black homeless man who makes assumptions about the character of a white woman merely based on her skin color is engaging in racism. Due to their different positions in life, his racism might not be very harmful to her, but it is still racism. I see no need to try to define away black-on-white or black-on-Asian racism by inserting power dynamics into the definition.

    If you commit the fundamental errors of dividing humanity into discrete, uniform, and non-overlapping groups, and use that to arrive at snap judgements of people, you’re a racist!

    One final note. Using this model, we can see now why racism sometimes finds traction even among good people. Certain physical traits might skew towards certain populations and not others. And, since culture determines so much of our behavior, and racial groups and sub-groups often have distinct cultures, there may be times when knowing a person’s race gives semi-reliable indicators of their culture, which could then be used to make predictions about their behavior or background even you don’t know anything else about them.

    But despite these confounding matters, it is still the case that racism is a fundamentally incorrect view of human nature that will tend to lead to errors in assessing the character and capabilities of your fellow humans. The alternative, viewing people as individuals and not making snap assumptions based on their race, is objectively superior as it will lead to more accurate assessments of people.

    1. I agree with your points, but I’d argue you are describing prejudice rather than racism, much as I’d argue that much of the discourse around racism would more accurately describe prejudice.

      But I submit that the distinction may be fine. I don’t think it helps that the word “racism” has become so overused to have lost a coherent meaning.

        1. These are my “folk” definitions, and by no means authoritative:

          Prejudice suggests pre-judging someone based on some identifiable characteristic. That could be race, it could be disability, it could be any characteristic to which stereotypes are often applied. (Examples: “I don’t want that guy on my team, he looks like a nerd.” “With three Black employees in this training seminar, we should order fried chicken instead of sushi for lunch.”

          Racism implies either:
          a) a belief that some racial/ethic groups are inherently superior to others
          b) a belief that all members of a racial/ethnic background share the same characteristics (neglecting the normal distribution of traits, essentially).

          It does get tricky when we combine prejudice with a racial component, and it can be hard to tease out the difference. Assuming a tall black man plays basketball is prejudice, not racism, but what about crossing the street to avoid two black men? Is that prejudice (if you’re a woman, it could be quite logical to cross the street because they’re men) or racism (assigning violent tendencies to the category of “black men”)?

          Regardless, I believe a lot of what is called racism today is merely prejudice. Most of what would be categorized as a “microagression” for example.

  10. I’m pretty sure the guy down the block who has a confederate flag sticker on his bumper is a lot more racist than me. But sure, blame me.

  11. It’s nice to learn that Kendi speaks against stereotyping/generalizing about groups. Perhaps I’ll consider reading his book at some point.

    The trouble with all these matters is that they just tend to fuel my own strong tendency toward generalized misanthropy and pro-mortalism, and leave me hoping for a new mountain-sized asteroid impact* to enact another KT-style reset…mere climate change is just not certain enough.

    Thankfully, that tendency is strongly countered by coming here and reading PCC(E)’s words and the words of the other commenters, and listening to people like McWhorter and Loury. But there always seem to be so many more sources of disgust than reassurance.

    *It’s a good thing I don’t have Elon Musk’s billions and budding space program, or I might just go try to engineer such an impact myself.

    1. Perhaps it would reassure(!) you if you treated the Wokerati as if they were a very slow moving mountain-sized asteroid impact? There’s an argument that too many ‘elites’ are chasing too few ‘elite jobs’ so we are trending towards social unrest and a social reset (which may or may not leave an impact crater).

      🙂

  12. I just finished Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, which was tolerable, but only with the concomitant consumption of a Family Pack of Mint Oreos (they were on sale). I have a feeling that White Fragility, read from beginning to end, will require something a bit more alcoholic.

    You could always wash those Mint Oreos down with a swig of bourbon, be the next best thing to that staple of Kentucky Derby Day, the mint julep.

  13. “I just finished Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, which was tolerable, but only with the concomitant consumption of a Family Pack of Mint Oreos (they were on sale). I have a feeling that White Fragility, read from beginning to end, will require something a bit more alcoholic.”

    Everclear ???

  14. I get a ton of pushback from FB friends (some of whom are actual friends).
    (“You need to be better!!” (along with “mansplaining”). “There are ways to define racism that make all white people racist.”)

    I stated (among other things):

    Any statement of the form: “All X people are Y” is either trivial or wrong.
    You can’t make up new definitions of words to suit your argument or politics.
    You don’t get to “define” yourself as winning the argument. You have to make your argument and support it with reason and evidence.

    1. Quite so. One of the victims of polarised debate is the assertion that one effect has a single cause. We know that most effects have many causes, most people have many characteristics and experiences, and much of what we ‘know’ is incomplete or wrong.

      Much of the debate about racism or white fragility etc. is carried out with a very broad brush handled while wearing boxing gloves and for the emotional delectation of the audience.

  15. I think that when DiAngelo is said to challenge individualism, it means she is challenging individualistic culture (BAD), in contrast to a collectivist culture (GOOD).

  16. Hi Jerry, I really hope that you will post summaries and critiques of both Kendi’s book and DiAngelo’s first book. I shudder at the thought of being lectured to and having a literary finger wagged at me relentlessy for a whole book. (Please spare us the pain! 🙂 )

  17. -rushing to prove that we are “not racist”;
    -downplaying white advantage;
    -romanticizing Black, Indigenous and other peoples of color (BIPOC);
    -pretending white segregation “just happens”;
    -expecting BIPOC people to teach us about racism;
    -carefulness;
    -and shame.

    ________________________

    It seems like the definition of “racism” keeps expanding, including more and more “white” behaviors. Now, well-meaning but clumsy attempts to fight racism are considered racist. With all the potential pitfalls involved in becoming an ally, some white people have understandably decided to act with “carefulness,” but—surprise!—that is racist too! And they’re not allowed to ask people of color for advice, because that’s also racist! (Although it’s not racist to ask Robin DiAngelo, who is happy to charge you money to learn the correct behaviors.) I’m tempted to ask, “Is there any white behavior that is *not* racist?” The range of acceptable white behaviors keeps getting narrow and narrower.

    I often hear people on the progressive left use the term “gaslighting” (i.e. to manipulate someone by psychological means into questioning their own sanity). Who exactly is doing the gaslighting here? I get the impression that DiAngelo is playing mind games with her readers, most of whom are desperately eager to avoid being labeled as racists. Ironically, their desire to be seen as *good* white people makes them vulnerable to that kind of psychological manipulation. It’s like playing a game of Simon Says—one person just arbitrarily issuing orders while everyone jumps and hops on cue. Hopefully, more people will stand up and say, “That’s enough! I’m not playing along anymore.”

    1. “It seems like the definition of “racism” keeps expanding, including more and more “white” behaviors.”

      That’s not a bug; that’s a feature.

      The point of woke ideology, as far as I can tell, is to induce guilt. Guilty people are easy to control – just convince them that the only way to atone for their original sin/toxic whiteness is to do as you say. So of course the purveyors of woke ideology want us white people to feel that we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. Speaking carefully about race is racist according to DiAngelo’s new book, but if we speak carelessly we are sure to inadvertently say something racist, and if we stay silent on the topic of race, we are shoring up our white fragility and innocence, thereby proving we’re racist.

      1. What of those who are biracial or are perceived to be? Do they need to get a DNA to figure out or prove which side they should be on? (I’m only 8% non-white fragile, but what about those who closer to 50/50?).

        Since treating all people with basic good manners clearly isn’t an option anymore, how’s that supposed to work?

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