Robin DiAngelo is best known for her 2018 book titled, “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” which later became a New York Times bestseller, reaching the top spot on The New York Times list during the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020.
Since 2016, she has given regular workshops on the topic of “white fragility.” On Friday, a course offered by DiAngelo — available on LinkedIn Learning — titled, “Confronting Racism, with Robin DiAngelo,” started trending on Twitter, with many shocked to find the advice she was giving participants.
In one of the latter sections titled, “What you can do,” DiAngelo claims that she doesn’t “think white people really want to know what to do, unless it’s the most simplistic thing, which is just keep being friendly.”
“That question tends to function as a way to jump over the hard, personal work and just get to the answer or get to the solution. It’s a little bit arrogant for folks who have never in their life thought deeply about this and after an hour, they want to get the answer and go fix it,” DiAngelo continues. “At the same time, we can’t wait until we have it all figured out. And so I will offer a challenging question back. And then I will answer the what do we do?”
The questions DiAngelo poses are: “What about your life has allowed you to be a full functioning professional, educated adult and not know what to do about racism?” “How have you managed not to know?” and “Why is that your question?”
Later, DiAngelo states that part of the solution is to try “to be a little less white.”
“I’m really clear that I am not going to be free of my conditioning, and racism is not going to end in my lifetime,” DiAngelo admits. “The question I ask myself is, how do I do a little less harm? And how do I know, right? Am I in any given moment behaving in anti-racist ways?”
She then continues to explain what it means to be “less white”:
- Be less oppressive
- Be less arrogant
- Be less certain
- Be less defensive
- Be less ignorant
- Be more humble
- Break with apathy
- Break with white solidarity
The argument here, of course, is that to be more white would mean to be more oppressive, more arrogant, more certain, more defensive, more ignorant, less humble, not to listen, not to believe, to continue being apathetic, and to engage in white solidarity. In other words, “whiteness” is inherently connected to oppression, arrogance, certainty, defensiveness, ignorance, lack of humility, inability to listen, apathy, and racial solidarity.
Robin DiAngelo, who is white, is often paid large sums by corporations and institutions to provide training on coming “to grips with the critical questions of racism and inclusion.” In 2020, it was reported that UConn was paying DiAngelo $20,000 for a three-day retreat, and that “DiAngelo and other diversity lecturers often charge in the $10,000 to $15,000 dollar range for a few hours of work,” even charging “$320 per hour for a phone call.”
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