by Anne Bailey
Among the books making the rounds on recent “must-read” book lists is White Fragility, by Robin DiAngelo. In her book, DiAngelo aims to teach white people how to identify their own racism, and about the variety of ways they resist acknowledging their racism. Essentially, her premise is that white people are unable to accept being accused of racism, and this “fragility” leads them to emotional denials of being called racists. In order to tear down systemic white supremacy, all white people must acknowledge their own inherent racism.
Rather than have an honest conversation about racism, DiAngelo has invented a new framework for what defines racism and white supremacy. This framework is not only illogical; it’s toxic, shallow, and destructive. Here are 5 reasons the book White Fragility should not be taken seriously.
1. It defies the principle of falsifiability
The principle of falsifiability instructs that for anything to be considered scientific, it must be able to be proven false. For example: We know the statement “all snakes are poisonous” is false because we can observe that some snakes are not poisonous. DiAngelo’s premise insists that when a person denies they are racist, this denial is actually proof of both racism and white fragility. This breaks the principle of falsifiability. It’s pseudo-science, and has no place in any serious and genuine conversation about race.
2. It fails to address individuals
DiAngelo asserts that “whiteness” isn’t just a skin color. It’s an entire system of oppression, and all white people are complicit in perpetuating this system. She also claims that non-white people can uphold white supremacy by participating in white culture or even “acting” white. Her sweeping definitions accuse nearly everyone of racism and white supremacy. This is by design. Her framework leaves no need for individual scrutiny. Addressing people as individuals would leave room for dissent, and dissent would destroy her argument. The more people who are condemned, the more disciples DiAngelo collects. Unless DiAngelo is omniscient, which is highly doubtful, her collective condemnation is flat out false. You simply cannot charge millions of individuals with racism using only their denial of guilt as proof of their guilt.
3. It’s emotionally manipulative
Most people shudder at the mere thought of being accused of racism. It’s an ugly accusation, and most logical people would be (understandably) defensive. Sinister accusations without any concrete evidence are…wrong. But, as we’ve discussed, DiAngelo insists that defensiveness is proof of both fragility and racism. DiAngelo’s pseudo-scientific premise locks well-meaning people into an impossible conundrum. If you refuse to admit you’re racist, that means you are both mentally and emotionally fragile, as well as racist. If you admit you’re racist, at least you aren’t fragile. Admission of racism is clearly the better of the two options, and in the pursuit of righteousness (and to avoid being labeled fragile), that’s what most readers will settle on. Once DiAngelo has successfully manipulated your emotions and forced you to admit you’re a racist (with no evidence), she’s now got you desperately searching for a solution…a way out of your racism.
4. It’s a money-making scheme
White Fragility forces its readers into a corner, convincing them that their racism runs so deep that even the tears of white women are an oppressive political act (this is an entire chapter in the book). Naturally, readers will want a solution to this unpleasant predicament. Where can atonement be found? You guessed it: Your atonement comes from the brain of Robin DiAngelo and the dollars you invest in her wisdom. DiAngelo teaches that you must work toward being antiracist. For a small fee of $10,000, Robin DiAngelo can help you atone for your evils at one of her seminars. These seminars will consist of more accusations of racism and how you are upholding the system of “whiteness” that infects every nook and cranny of society. You can never be fully free of racism, but you can dedicate your life to paying Robin DiAngelo more money to tell you that you’re racist, which somehow helps fight white supremacy.
5. It undermines healthy relationships
By accusing all white people of racism and upholding white supremacy, DiAngelo undermines healthy interracial relationships, and places them under unnecessary stress. Where there was once a normal relationship dynamic, there is now a dynamic of perceived oppression and deep-seated racism. It can also put strain on relationships between friends and family of the same race. When a husband or wife takes DiAngelo’s book as gospel, they will feel justified in accusing their spouse of being racist. When the accused spouse denies it, the other spouse — equipped with DiAngelo’s precepts — will claim they are perpetuating white supremacy and exhibiting white fragility. It is truly despicable to take thriving friendships and even marriages, and wreak havoc by introducing a deceitful moneymaking scheme under the guise of weeding out racism.
DiAngelo’s emotionally and financially manipulative manuscript for “racism education” should be soundly condemned by anyone who truly seeks to end racism and enjoy a unified and peaceable future.
This article was used with permission from Anne Bailey.