29 votes

The dehumanizing condescension of the book White Fragility

21 comments

  1. Turtle
    (edited )
    Link
    This whole concept reminds me of how certain conspiracy theories are perpetuated: strong opposition is taken as evidence of truth, and as a result it is literally impossible for it to be disproven...

    This whole concept reminds me of how certain conspiracy theories are perpetuated: strong opposition is taken as evidence of truth, and as a result it is literally impossible for it to be disproven to its proponents or meaningfully criticized (at least if you're white). Anyways, as someone who is not white, although I haven't read the book, just based on the wikipedia article I think I would tend to agree with the author here.

    15 votes
  2. [20]
    culturedleftfoot
    Link
    I haven't read the book myself, but I think some of the criticisms mentioned here echo concerns I've seen expressed in various conversations, so I'm curious how this resonates.

    I haven't read the book myself, but I think some of the criticisms mentioned here echo concerns I've seen expressed in various conversations, so I'm curious how this resonates.

    9 votes
    1. [14]
      kfwyre
      (edited )
      Link Parent
      I read the book. Twice. I am not saying this to brag. The opposite, really. It took me two reads to really get what the book was getting at, because my first read of it was inhibited by my own...
      • Exemplary

      I read the book. Twice.

      I am not saying this to brag. The opposite, really. It took me two reads to really get what the book was getting at, because my first read of it was inhibited by my own fragile response to the book's assertions.

      On my first read I found it... challenging. There were some parts that I really liked, but there were some parts that I really didn't. This is true of nearly every book I read, but White Fragility got under my skin in a way that other books didn't.

      Turns out, that's exactly what the book was identifying. On my first read, I didn't like the author's tone. It was pointed and uncompromising, sharp and incisive. I would have even called it arrogant in places. Also, there was a second piece to my response to the book that's hard to explain, both because it's hard to put into words and also because I don't like airing what it says about me. I noticed that when I found something that I disliked in the book, my gut feeling was to discard the whole thing rather than that just critiquing that particular element. More than this though (and this is the part it hurts to admit) there was a small but genuine contempt behind that. The book made me mildly angry -- I would even use the word "disgusted", as much as I don't like typing that out because it looks so harsh when I see it there, in writing, right in front of me. I read a lot of books with cultural commentary, and it's rare that I agree with every point every author makes. However, when I disagree with most books it tends to be with particular points and my emotional response is largely neutral, but with this one it provoked something deep within me, and I felt inclined to just angrily toss the whole thing.

      Why? Why was I doing that?

      One of the tenets of white fragility is that white people, like me, tend to center our own feelings in discussions of racism when we are often the least affected by it. Furthermore, we tend to have a sort of paternalistic insistence that things be argued on our terms otherwise we have the right to discard them.

      The book outright identified this to me on my first read, as I was experiencing it. Part of why I chose to re-read the book was because I wanted to deliberately read it without centering my feelings as the primary focus.

      It was very eye-opening, as I was much more amenable to the author's tone and points. It honestly read like a very different book the second time. I found myself wondering if I was really re-reading the same thing at certain parts. Furthermore, it was honestly liberating to not feel this sort of deep-seated righteous indignation when I felt that she was wrong. Instead, I could just sort of... disagree, simply -- the same way I would do with other authors.

      I don't think it's a perfect book, and I certainly have my criticisms. That said, I think it's easy to lose the forest for the trees on this one by taking the book as a whole and getting into a lot of its individual examples and assertions as representative of that whole. The framework of white fragility that DiAngelo introduces is actually a small part of the book, and she introduces it early on. It's fairly simple and straightforward and is, in my white opinion, the most important part of the book. I find it a useful framework for me, as much of it rings true about my own experiences and the experiences of people that I know.

      Furthermore, I find that "fragility" is a concept that has extensions beyond just racism and applies at large to situations where privilege convinces people that their voices and feelings are central on certain issues. An easy way to identify a common instance of fragility is whenever someone responds in visceral anger to something that clearly isn't about them. For example, I spent a decade of my life hiding being gay and literally making it the smallest of all possible deals out of necessity, all while wider society continued to make being gay a big deal through overt and aggressive homophobia. The dominant response after I came out? "Why do you need to make such a big deal of it?" / "Stop rubbing it in people's faces." I would merely mention it, in passing, with no fanfare or flamboyance, and I would still get the same response, despite my role being one of extreme minimization while speaking to people who had been acting with extreme maximization. I was being accused of something I was actively watching other people do. They'd say "faggots burn in hell" in one breath and then complain I was "making being gay a big deal" with the next.

      I was activating people's fragility, and it made this obvious contradiction completely invisible to them, because they had social forces on their side that protected and prioritized their feelings. It made them think my disclosure was about them and had anything to do with them. They felt that, when faced with this disclosure, their feelings regarding it were superior to mine. There were plenty of other ways they could have responded, including not at all, but their defaulting to a self-centered and assertive hostility was rooted in a framework that strongly advantaged them and disadvantaged me in the situation. This is worth examining and understanding.

      Despite having first-hand experience with the concept of fragility (though not a name for it until I read this book), my own fragility relative to race was invisible to me. I needed it pointed out, and I had to grapple with the discomfort it produced. Nobody likes to be made aware of their own fragility, as it's essentially a way of telling someone "your feelings aren't important" which can come across as incredibly dismissive and invalidating. Instead, I find it better to think about fragility as a sort of cognitive distortion -- an unfair and ultimately unproductive response we've been socialized to have and that we can override through conscious awareness.

      36 votes
      1. [13]
        vektor
        Link Parent
        Without having read the book, or even having the cultural context of american racism (I think Germany has a racism problem, but it is structured differently from the US. Even though some people...

        Without having read the book, or even having the cultural context of american racism (I think Germany has a racism problem, but it is structured differently from the US. Even though some people here try to import US discourse at all cost way too often, but that's somewhat beside the point)...

        Would you agree that the... displeasure of reading works like this gets in the way? Would you think the author should try to make their work a bit more accessible to those inclined to throw it away? My intuition would be "it probably helps in convincing, if someone engages with it. But less people will engage with the book as a result of it."

        I vaguely remember reading an article by a POC author about german racism. And the main thing I remember was being called an "alman"(turkish for german, I think), along with all other gerrmans - and being stereotyped based on that. Making people uncomfortable is a super easy way of making them not engage with your argument, imo.

        I guess my question is, do you think a book like the above could achieve it's purpose without invoking negative feelings to the point of losing a lot of its audience?

        9 votes
        1. [2]
          NaraVara
          Link Parent
          The discomfort is the point though, and I think this is what most White people just have trouble understanding. There is inherently a gap between White and non-White people because even well...

          Would you think the author should try to make their work a bit more accessible to those inclined to throw it away?

          The discomfort is the point though, and I think this is what most White people just have trouble understanding. There is inherently a gap between White and non-White people because even well meaning White folks have trouble understanding what the world looks like when it isn't structured to focus on them, center their needs and values, try to persuade and teach them in terms they can understand, etc.

          That gap in understanding is what gets in the way of developing any kind of true empathy for the experiences of people outside the White mainstream. That gap cannot be closed except by making people feel that discomfort. Trying to teach this without having people feel awkward or uncomfortable is a bit like asking someone to build up cardio without ever feeling out of breath. The two go hand-in-hand.

          It's a form of training that non-White people have gone through as a matter of course. We've all gone through life being misunderstood, misjudged, or had people talk about things like food or family in terms that make no sense to us. We have to cultivate a kind of dual-consciousness and multiple modes of speaking, one to make our behaviors and customs accessible or comprehensible to White people and another for just being among us. The awkwardness and misunderstandings and never really seeing yourself in anything you see or hear discussed without needing to do a bit of work to adapt and recontextualize things were just facts of life growing up.

          10 votes
          1. culturedleftfoot
            Link Parent
            A simple example of this - I recall reading a reddit post asking White folks what their biggest takeaways have been from being in interracial relationships. One White guy described going to his...

            A simple example of this - I recall reading a reddit post asking White folks what their biggest takeaways have been from being in interracial relationships. One White guy described going to his Black girlfriend's house for a cookout. At a certain point she checked in with him, and he admitted to her that while he was having a good time and everyone had treated him well, he still felt a little uncomfortable because he was the only White person in attendance among her extended family and friends. Her response was simply, "Well, welcome to how Black people feel 90% of the time."

            It was a eureka moment for him, as it sunk in that he'd never really had any substantial experience being a minority. Sadly, most White Americans have little to no experience being the only White person in the room and don't feel much incentive to endure the discomfort which will get them to the point where they can experience being comfortable as the only White person in the room, because there is no real consequence for them staying within their comfort zone avoiding those lessons in empathy. Of course, that kind of firsthand experience is not necessary to understand how to treat different people, but it's useful in helping expose the unspoken rules and norms we often take for granted.

            8 votes
        2. [6]
          culturedleftfoot
          (edited )
          Link Parent
          What you ask essentially boils down to, do we prioritize truth or comfort? The truth often hurts precisely because it's uncomfortable. You mention the context of American racism, which is...

          What you ask essentially boils down to, do we prioritize truth or comfort? The truth often hurts precisely because it's uncomfortable.

          You mention the context of American racism, which is important to point out because it often goes unsaid that practically all contemporary talk about racism (and by extension, whiteness) is indeed specific to the American context unless explicitly stated otherwise. In any case, you may or may not know the ins and outs of Martin Luther King Jr.'s story, but I will trust you've had some introduction; he raised the issue of this discomfort more than 50 years ago in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail:

          I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

          9 votes
          1. [5]
            vektor
            Link Parent
            I'm not asking to prioritize. I'm asking if we can have both. Because if you manage to educate people without making them uncomfortable, you're going to have an easier time educating more people....

            What you ask essentially boils down to, do we prioritize truth or comfort?

            I'm not asking to prioritize. I'm asking if we can have both. Because if you manage to educate people without making them uncomfortable, you're going to have an easier time educating more people.

            And I'm not fully buying into the "truth hurts" mantra. For one, I think what is uncomfortable is very subjective. It is also often a matter of delivery. You wouldn't disagree if I say that uncontroversial things can be delivered in a discomfort-inducing way. You'd probably also agree that some people can stomach more discomfort than others before they take evasive action.

            The question then is whether every uncomfortable truth has a tolerable core. Can we peel away the bitter layers of the onion to discover something better inside? (Yes, I came up with that myself. Yes, I am proud of it. No, it isn't that good after all.) I for one found Uncomfortable Truth - The Movie rather tolerable without immense cognitive dissonance. Maybe because I saw it at a young age, having accumulated little guilt about the way I treat the environment, and now that I have a bigger impact I act according to lessons internalized years ago? Or was it a presentation honed to be as palatable as possible?

            I dunno.... But if your best truth is so uncomfortable that people won't listen, you'd better be damn sure it's actually the best version of that truth... or try to refine it.

            Now, maybe I'm off base here because I have seen too much antagonisation of well-meaning, even active anti-racists just because they're uneducated or want clarification. I've seen discussions online where someone took offense at an anti-white slur, and people were jumping down his throat about "ohh, it's not racist because power + prejudice." Like, dude. If your definition of racism is that, then just because the power is missing doesn't mean the prejudice is ok. Nevermind that power can be very situational. Still grinds my gears. Thought that was a reasonable subreddit. But I digress. My point with that detour is that some things don't have to be uncomfortable, or at least less so.

            5 votes
            1. kfwyre
              Link Parent
              I already dropped a novel on you with my last response, but I wanted to address some of your concerns here since I think they're really important. I promise I'll keep this one short(er)! :) I've...

              I already dropped a novel on you with my last response, but I wanted to address some of your concerns here since I think they're really important. I promise I'll keep this one short(er)! :)

              I have seen too much antagonisation of well-meaning, even active anti-racists just because they're uneducated or want clarification.

              I've seen this too, and like you, I'm not a fan. The same goes for clearly prejudicial comments and anti-white rantings and whatnot. Hatred is hatred and it's not okay even if it's not backed by power.

              I say that as a preface because I do think these often happen for some very legitimate reasons.

              I'll start with the first example: people who are well-meaning. Many people who are actively prejudicial will intentionally piss in the pool of intentions by acting in bad faith. They'll present themselves as well-meaning or just wanting clarification, all the while masquerading hateful rhetoric under a performative innocence.

              It's a no-win situation, because if you engage them in good faith, you've taken the bait and they've got you on the hook. Your time and feelings are now theirs to waste away. If you instead engage them with hostility, you look like a bully, they look like a victim, and the wider internet will side with them over you, you monster!

              Bad faith actors erode our ability to engage well-meaning people by using their appearance as fronts. People who have spent enough time dealing with well-meaning-but-secretly-actually-awful people tend to lose patience for any sort of reaching and teaching because they've been burned enough that they're no longer willing to extend kindness. Even though I'm someone who believes that kindness should always be on the table, I can nevertheless understand how some people get to a place where it's gone from theirs.

              With regards to the second example -- anti-white slurs -- there are certainly some who defend them, but I am not one of those people. I think slurs are wrong. Period. I actually think most people agree on this.

              Where the conversation tends to go south is that things like anti-white slurs will be brought up not as legitimate concerns on their own but only as a counterbalance to racism. It's often a derailing tactic. The thinking goes that if we can show any sort of discrimination against white people, we can fundamentally undermine any discussion of racism. Not only does this sort of thing pull focus in a powerful way, but it's often used to create a false equivalency. This is a tactic commonly used by people trying to deny systemic racism, which is why people often respond with prejudice + power arguments.

              Proportionality and focus are key here. I believe anti-white slurs are wrong. Period. But, with this in mind, I don't believe their existence should be used as a rhetorical tool to negate the damage done by, say, anti-black slurs. I also think that, while neither are good, far more injustice occurs in the name of anti-black slurs and thus they deserve more of our focus. It doesn't mean that we can't address the wrongness of anti-white slurs, but it does mean we have to be vigilant to when such discussion imbalances this proportionality, or is used as a way of preventing the discussion from taking root in the first place.

              One final thing to keep in mind: there are some people who will legitimately use the language of justice to mask abusive conduct. Bullies operate under plausible deniability, so framing their abuse as a form of social justice (or any other framework) is a way of allowing themselves to act in a destructive manner while attempting to escape accountability. This is wrong, and I'm sure some of the people you've seen jumping down people's throats were actually just bullying people under the pretense of justice. The only thing I'll say here is that this isn't a social justice problem but a human one, as you can find bullies clinging to rationalizations no matter where they stand politically.

              7 votes
            2. culturedleftfoot
              Link Parent
              You weren't asking to prioritize, but in practice that is the question that usually needs to be answered, because of the very subjectivity in what various people are comfortable with. When you...

              You weren't asking to prioritize, but in practice that is the question that usually needs to be answered, because of the very subjectivity in what various people are comfortable with. When you throw in the wrinkle that some people's comfort might be actually dependent upon the discomfort/maltreatment of others, whose comfort is most important? We get back to the question, are we aiming for the absence of tension or the presence of justice?

              @viridian's link further down is tangentially related and worth considering as well.

              4 votes
            3. [2]
              mftrhu
              Link Parent
              Yes, but... Accusations of anti-white racism cannot be anything other than equivocation - because the "power" element in that equation is very, very important - and in my experience they are...

              I've seen discussions online where someone took offense at an anti-white slur, and people were jumping down his throat about "ohh, it's not racist because power + prejudice." Like, dude. If your definition of racism is that, then just because the power is missing doesn't mean the prejudice is ok.

              Yes, but...

              Accusations of anti-white racism cannot be anything other than equivocation - because the "power" element in that equation is very, very important - and in my experience they are seldom made in good faith.

              2 votes
              1. vektor
                (edited )
                Link Parent
                I mean, no, of course. I completely agree that anti-white slurs in a white society and anti black slurs in that same society are an entirely different order of magnitude of shit. And I'm not even...

                I mean, no, of course. I completely agree that anti-white slurs in a white society and anti black slurs in that same society are an entirely different order of magnitude of shit.

                And I'm not even saying that the person using those terms was necessarily being prejudiced, because I frankly don't know. But that doesn't make it ok. I wouldn't dare to use the N-word freely just because I'm in central Africa, no matter whether I have my first world privilege with me or not.

                It's just a really bad look and while I will be forgiving of in-the-moment transgressions, the instance I'm thinking of here was not that.

                I mean, all the discussion was about was "ehh, I don't like being called that". And the answers were "well, there's no power in that". Yeah, no. Fuck you. Still sucks. Don't do it.

                Is it really too much to ask that people acknowledge that that isn't cool?

                Something something infighting on the left.

                E: Ahhh shit, now I delved back into that semi-cesspool. Aaaargh! That's the kind of displeasure that could be avoided. People just being dicks because they refuse to engage. Shouldn't've.

                7 votes
        3. [4]
          kfwyre
          Link Parent
          This is a really great question. I wish I had a clear cut answer, but I don't. Here's a sort of scattershot of ideas that I couldn't really form into a cohesive whole: 1 I very much believe in...
          • Exemplary

          This is a really great question. I wish I had a clear cut answer, but I don't. Here's a sort of scattershot of ideas that I couldn't really form into a cohesive whole:

          1

          I very much believe in productive communication, and part of productive communication is tailoring what you say to your audience. We do this all the time, and it's far from an unjust imposition. For example, it's literally my job as a teacher to communicate with kids in a way that's meaningful for them, or when one of my friends is crying, I'm going to modify the manner and content of my communication as a result of their emotional state. I think that refusal to do this often erodes communication. With this in mind, I do think DiAngelo could modify what she wrote in order to reach a wider audience.

          2

          I also very much believe that it's possible for the above paradigm, when held as a sole ideal, to lock out vitally important disclosure and truths. For example, a few years ago I had a doctor give me some very difficult truths about a medical issue I have, and his disclosure was not at all aimed at maintaining my comfort. The truth of what he was saying was undeniably uncomfortable to me, but it was something I needed to hear. The discomfort itself was part of the message, and it conveyed the gravity of the situation. @NaraVara covers this concept well in their response.

          3

          I think that it's important to understand the sources of our discomfort, and I think it is very easy for us to misidentify these. When my doctor was direct with me, I could have resolved my discomfort by discrediting him, ignoring him, or finding some other reason to put the cause of the discomfort on him rather than on myself. It would have maintained my comfort, but it also would have been intellectually dishonest. There would be background damage to that decision, because it would allow the underlying issue to go unchecked and be made worse through my own actions.

          4

          In America in particular, I see our conversations about racism much like I see my example with the doctor. DiAngelo's book is an uncompromising diagnosis -- she's not trying to prioritize people's feelings, especially because she believes that the ongoing harms of racism don't deserve sugarcoating. I think many of the responses I've seen to it fall into resolving the discomfort by putting it on her, rather than acknowledging that the fundamental discomfort from racism is rooted in racism, not in pointing it out.

          5

          I've read a lot of books on race and racism, and not just in response to our recent protests. It's been a topic of interest for me for years now. As such, when the protests broke out, a lot of people I know turned to me for reading recommendations. For most of them, I have not recommended White Fragility not because I don't think it's valuable, but because I think many of the people who have asked me for recommendations are the type who are primed to dismiss its disclosure out of hand.

          6

          I see the book's role as valuable, but not as an introductory one. I think it's the kind of book where someone has to approach it first, on their own, and be ready for it. And even then it's challenging. I thought I was ready for it, and I had to go through it twice!

          7

          So, in a really long, drawn out answer to your question, I do think its messaging could be changed, but I think that would also fundamentally change the book's role. I see it as serving a specific purpose, and I feel that it generally fulfills that purpose.

          8

          A final thought. It doesn't really fit in anywhere else in what I was saying, but I thought of it while typing this up and wanted to make sure it was included:

          One of the things I've seen with White Fragility and in fact with many texts or individuals who speak about racism is that people often try to make the entirety of racism stand on a single pair of shoulders. As such, I've seen criticisms of White Fragility that aren't so much criticisms of DiAngelo as they are takedowns of racism as a whole by proxy of DiAngelo (the linked article does a little bit of this, IMO). The argument goes that if there are flaws in this one particular example, then the entire idea of systemic racism is bunk.

          I think it's important to remember that White Fragility is the product of a single voice speaking on a big, difficult, and complex topic. Even if we run with the idea that her book is complete garbage, all that does is invalidate her specific book and not the much larger framework it's trying to address.

          The reason I say this is because one of the ways I see fragility manifest is when one person creates discomfort for people regarding race, a common resolution for that discomfort is to discard racism in its entirety. This, I think, is ultimately the reason I have held back from recommending the book because I don't want to trigger that response in anyone. Ultimately though, I think that's an unfair response to have. The solution to that one lies in us, not in anything that specifically triggers it.

          5 votes
          1. [2]
            skybrian
            Link Parent
            I should probably read this book just based on your first post, but I'm wondering: to what extent would you say it's evidence-based, versus more theoretical?

            I should probably read this book just based on your first post, but I'm wondering: to what extent would you say it's evidence-based, versus more theoretical?

            2 votes
            1. kfwyre
              Link Parent
              It's definitely not evidence-based and is pretty much all theoretical.

              It's definitely not evidence-based and is pretty much all theoretical.

              1 vote
          2. ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            You did the numbered-list thing much better than I. I like your formatting.

            You did the numbered-list thing much better than I. I like your formatting.

            2 votes
    2. [2]
      Cycloneblaze
      Link Parent
      An acquaintance described it as "basically a sales pitch for corporate diversity training", which seems spot on

      An acquaintance described it as "basically a sales pitch for corporate diversity training", which seems spot on

      15 votes
      1. thundergolfer
        Link Parent
        This was a big part Chapo Trap House's take too. The author's answer to all relevant problems, even problems with diversity training itself, it more corporate diversity training.

        This was a big part Chapo Trap House's take too. The author's answer to all relevant problems, even problems with diversity training itself, it more corporate diversity training.

        8 votes
    3. [2]
      mftrhu
      Link Parent
      It smells like bullshit, it sounds like bullshit. I suppose the author of this article might have a point, somewhere, but it comes bundled with too many strawmen ("you can't ask black people, but...

      so I'm curious how this resonates.

      It smells like bullshit, it sounds like bullshit. I suppose the author of this article might have a point, somewhere, but it comes bundled with too many strawmen ("you can't ask black people, but you are also not supposed to do your own research!") and pointless gotchas for me to feel like digging for it.

      Di Angelo has spent a very long time conducting diversity seminars in which whites, exposed to her catechism, regularly tell her—many while crying, yelling, or storming toward the exit—that she’s insulting them and being reductionist. Yet none of this seems to have led her to look inward. Rather, she sees herself as the bearer of an exalted wisdom that these objectors fail to perceive, blinded by their inner racism. Di Angelo is less a coach than a proselytizer.

      I am not black, nor American, but as an LGBT+ person I am very familiar with this. I have lost count of how many times people have ranted about the LGBT+ community having "lost an ally" because some of us refused to spoonfeed them, asking them to do a bare minimum of research, or because they dislike the terminology being used. They have cried and yelled about not being "cis", because "cis" is a label that we are imposing on them, as they don't identify with their gender, they just are their gender!

      This is far from being compelling criticism of Di Angelo, and the article doesn't get better.

      An especially weird passage is where DiAngelo breezily decries the American higher-education system, in which, she says, no one ever talks about racism. [...] I am mystified that DiAngelo thinks this laughably antique depiction reflects any period after roughly 1985. For example, an education-school curriculum neglecting racism in our times would be about as common as a home unwired for electricity.

      That passage links to an article titled "The Propaganda in Our Ed Schools", and another titled "Who teaches the teachers", with pearls such as

      If you think it’s good for American democracy that leftist teachers are permitted to use public school classrooms to radicalize their students you will likely also love the tribute to Freire in last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education by Henry Giroux, an English professor at McMaster University in Canada and one of Freire’s leading disciples. If, by chance, you still believe in the quaint notion that compulsory public education should be pOLitICaLLY NEutrAL

       

      You’ll find yourself swimming in an ocean of hard-left ideology: “critical theory” that says there is no truth, only power; “intersectionality” that says you’re not allowed to be right about anything unless you’re right (that is, left) about everything; cheerleading for every fashionable left-leaning cause.

      Which is a load of hyperbolic bullshit, which makes me suspect that the author, and the resources he used, might be a wee bit biased towards the right - that is, not left - side of the current culture war.

      Refer to a “bad neighborhood,” and you’re using code for Black; call it a “Black neighborhood,” and you’re a racist; by DiAngelo’s logic, you are not to describe such neighborhoods at all, even in your own head. You must not ask Black people about their experiences and feelings, because it isn’t their responsibility to educate you. Instead, you must consult books and websites. Never mind that upon doing this you will be accused of holding actual Black people at a remove, reading the wrong sources, or drawing the wrong lessons from them. You must never cry in Black people’s presence as you explore racism, not even in sympathy, because then all the attention goes to you instead of Black people.

      This is an abridgment of a list DiAngelo offers in Chapter 9; its result is to silence people. Whites aren’t even allowed to say, “I don’t feel safe.” Only Black people can say that. If you are white, you are solely to listen as DiAngelo tars you as morally stained. [...] By the end, DiAngelo has white Americans muzzled, straitjacketed, tied down, and chloroformed for good measure—but for what?

      As he is continuing in a similar manner - all of these are "gotchas" I encounter often while discussing LGBT+ issues, as numbnuts tend to work off the same playbook - and as he apparently feels that

      [...] anti-racism has become as harmful a force in the United States as racism itself.[22][23] According to him, what is holding blacks back is "black attitudes" rather than white racism.[24]

      The opinion I formed when first skimming the linked article was only further cemented: bullshit, written to cater to the "moderates" by reassuring them that no, things are not really that bad, and it's actually those pesky skeleton justice warriors that are making them worse.

      13 votes
      1. daturkel
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I haven't read White Fragility, though I recently bought it and it's next on my list after I finish my current book. But I read this article and I shared it with a friend who'd just read the book....

        I haven't read White Fragility, though I recently bought it and it's next on my list after I finish my current book. But I read this article and I shared it with a friend who'd just read the book. I was pretty perplexed by some of the arguments the author made, especially towards the end when he transitions from talking directly about the text to speaking more generally about his own experience. My friend was also pretty bewildered by the article and she looked up the author (I'd just read the blurb at the bottom that said he's a linguistics professor at Columbia) and sent me the exact same excerpt from his Wikipedia article, and that explained quite a bit.

        If your worldview is predicated on how innocuous or inconsequential racism is in modern American life, then a critique of a book like this isn't a point-by-point appraisal of ideas so much as a wholesale dismissal of the entire premise. I think I read this expecting the author to be more willing to intellectually engage with the ideas in the book than he actually was.

        5 votes
    4. viridian
      Link Parent
      I've read snippets here and there, anecdotal stories taken from the book and the only real conclusion I could draw from them is that the narrator consistently seems to be living an emotionally...

      I've read snippets here and there, anecdotal stories taken from the book and the only real conclusion I could draw from them is that the narrator consistently seems to be living an emotionally exhausting life. I'm reminded of this article posted a few days ago here on tildes, because I think the book operates in a normative paradigm of culture B to the extreme:

      https://josephg.com/blog/war-over-being-nice/

      10 votes