From the VG Bookshelf: White Fragility
From the VG Bookshelf: White Fragility
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo is the “hot” book of the moment. Is this slim tome worth the sturm und drang, the breathless hallelujahs from the far-left in public and academia? Just by looking at the people promoting it, you may want to skip it. However, this novel-length Kafkatrap is important for one reason — that you learn the language of those who want to control you and destroy you.
First, understand that DiAngelo’s foundational assertion in White Fragility is that white people and everything they create are irredeemably racist, from infants to elderly, from arts to institutions. Second, if you at all argue the contrary that is proof of your racism. Now take your jaw off the floor and look at how she constructs her spiel. The language she uses is important because once you learn her code words, the sly and dishonest way she frames her arguments, the blatant contradictions in her examples, it will help you to counter such future arguments. The anger — the fragility — she is delighted to detail that come in reaction to her accusations appear to spring from 1) the inability of people to clearly articulate their dissent and 2) people tacitly accept DiAngelo’s own “moral” framework. The latter is what Ayn Rand identified as the sanction of the victim.
Plainly stated, Robin DiAngelo is a race-pimp. She makes her money speaking to groups, from academic to corporate settings. She is Professor Harold Hill without the charm, Bill Starbuck without the redemption. She obviously is not a stupid woman, but she is one without actual morals. As liberal Matt Taibbi states:
DiAngelo isn’t the first person to make a buck pushing tricked-up pseudo-intellectual horseshit as corporate wisdom, but she might be the first to do it selling Hitlerian race theory. White Fragility has a simple message: there is no such thing as a universal human experience, and we are defined not by our individual personalities or moral choices, but only by our racial category.
Reading White Fragility was also an exercise in déjà vu. In the first part of the book, as she’s explaining how white people are racist in every way living in a white racist system, I felt like I had heard this before.
DiAngelo shamelessly “borrows” from White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh.
DiAngelo in the chapter “Belonging”:
“As I move through my daily life, my race is unremarkable. I belong when I turn on the TV, read best-selling novels, and watch blockbuster movies. I belong when I walk past the magazine racks at the grocery store or drive past billboards.” (pg 67)
“I belong when I look at my teachers, counselors, and classmates” (pg 68)
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
12. I can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fi t with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser’s shop and find someone who can cut my hair.
Pay attention because this is the fundamental lie of “WHITE” privilege. Nothing, but absolutely nothing, about either DiAngelo’s pages-long screed or McIntosh’s singular list has anything to do with melanin-level. It is a function of majority. A Japanese person in Japan, a Filipino in the Philippines, a Kenyan in Kenya and an Icelander in Iceland is going to experience all the same privileges of being in the majority. America’s population is approximately 75% “white” and 16% “black”. Try being either a white or black person in Japan and see how silly it is to complain about not being able to “turn on the TV, read best-selling novels, and watch blockbuster movies” that aren’t Japanese.
Maybe silly is the wrong word because this book isn’t about just about browbeating “white” people into believing in their own inherent evilness, but of destroying the legitimacy of Western Civilization. The revisionist history DiAngelo tosses in as accepted facts is pervasive. From the easily debunked narrative that President Trump praised neo-Nazis at Charlottesville, the description of Michael Brown as exclusively “an unarmed black man shot by police in Ferguson” to the claim that the whole concept of “race” was invented by our evil Founding Fathers in order to keep the black man in chains.
Indeed, the most Western of principles … that we as individuals are ultimately responsible for our own choices and behaviors … is racism incarnate. As DiAngelo writes:
To challenge the ideologies of racism, such and individualism and color blindness, we as white people must suspend our perception of ourselves as unique and/or outside race. Exploring our collective racial identity interrupts a key privilege of dominance – the ability to see oneself only as an individual. We need to discuss white people as a group – even if doing so jars us – in order to disrupt our unracialized identities.
But we, as human beings going through our days, living our lives, don’t deal with others as a group. And that is where DiAngelo’s dishonesty in dismissing “color-blindness” as racist comes to the fore. No person who has stated “I don’t see color” is literally claiming a color-blindness any more than “I treat everyone equally” (RACIST!! she cries) means literal equality of result.
Let me explain. If I’m introduced to Joan for the first time, I mentally take a few notes on Joan — her height, weight, age, skin/eye/hair color, clothing, hair style, speaking voice, mannerisms — these are fast sketches to make Joan identifiable to me so the next time we meet I’ll remember (hopefully) her name. However, if Joan and I hit it off and become friends, the more all those details will start to fade from the top of my Joan-identity list. Everything unique to Joan, her experiences, her skills, her likes/dislikes, her dreams/fear — all of those become more important in what makes Joan than her mere physical appearance. If I were to say “I don’t see color”, it is no more than inelegant shorthand for saying “I see Joan”.
White Fragility is dedicated to destroying people’s relationships at the individual level. DiAngelo would forbid me saying “I see Joan” as that would be an act of [DiAngelo defined] white supremacy. I cannot be allowed to treat Joan, my friend, differently than any random stranger. Indeed, DiAngelo’s approach to race as definitive is to demonize “whites” and to fetishize “blacks”. It’s as if she is dedicated to keeping people divided.
Tucker Carlson rips "poisonous garbage" White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo:
"A book that claims to side with black people but instead patronizes and demeans them like they're children." pic.twitter.com/7CfLU5pSM0
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) June 25, 2020
The more I worked my way through the book, the more I came to believe that DiAngelo does not believe in what she is preaching. She is like the character of O’Brien in 1984. The reader realizes O’Brien is not a Big Brother True Believer™ as he’s torturing Winston. The absurdities, lies, contradictions that must be believed is the province of those outside the Party Elite. O’Brien knows 2+2=4 and always will be, but that is irrelevant (even counter productive) to gaining power for power’s sake.
DiAngelo is only too happy and delighted to recount stories of her intervening with fragile whites and making sure they really do see 5 fingers. It is up to you to find the language and the courage to reject her arguments from the get-go. If HR makes you sit through one of her struggle sessions, giggle, snicker and mock. Point out the contradictions, the fallacies. Never get angry, never take it seriously. Then watch who is really fragile.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Viktor Frankl:
There are only two races in the world, the decent and the indecent.
I think it’s easy to see what race Robin DiAngelo identifies with.
featured image, original composite by VG Darleen Click