Writer and economist Jonathan Church examines the concept of implicit bias, and what researches have written about it. His book critiquing Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility theory will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in January of 2021. Jonathan’s articles about implicit bias and other topics have appeared in Quillette, Areo, Arc Digital, The Agonist Journal, Merion West, The Good Men Project, New Discourses, and The Federalist, among others.
by Christopher Paslay
Robin DiAngelo mistakenly ties the Civil Rights Movement to identity politics, when in fact the movement was based on universal human values.
Robin DiAngelo, who has made an estimated $2 million from her controversial bestseller White Fragility — and charges up to $40,000 for a half-day workshop — insists all social progress in America has come from identity politics.
“The term identity politics refers to the focus on the barriers specific groups face in their struggle for equality,” DiAngelo wrote in her author’s note to White Fragility. “We have yet to achieve our founding principle [in America], but any gains we have made thus far have come through identity politics. . . . All progress we have made in the realm of civil rights has been accomplished through identity politics.”
But just as DiAngelo mangles the story of Jackie Robison in White Fragility, she also misrepresents both the concept of identity politics, and the association of identity politics with the Civil Rights Movement. Her statement that “identity politics refers to the focus on the barriers specific groups face in their struggle for equality” is disingenuous because it’s only half of the equation. While identity politics does aim to remove barriers to marginalized groups, it also uses identity itself — race, religion, gender, and sexuality — as a source of power. In other words, it places membership in a social group over the character of the individual, thus turning MLK’s “dream” on its head.
DiAngelo, along with many anti-racists, insist the Civil Rights Movement was a form of identity politics because it advocated very explicitly for a certain identity group — it called for universal human rights, freedoms, and opportunities by focusing on the identity groups who lacked them. This advocacy, however, is not identity politics. It is what Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay call universal liberalism; in this case, “liberal” does not mean left of center on the political spectrum, but refers instead to a well-established philosophical and ethical position which focuses on individuality, liberty, and equal opportunity (conservatives, liberals, and libertarians all employ some forms of universal liberalism).
What is the difference between universal liberalism and identity politics? Both want to end inequality, but use very different approaches, as explained in the article “Identity Politics Does Not Continue the Work of the Civil Rights Movements,” published on the website New Discourses by Pluckrose and Lindsay. “Universal liberalism focuses on individuality and shared humanity and seeks to achieve a society in which every individual is equally able to access every right, freedom, and opportunity that our shared societies provide,” Pluckrose and Lindsay write. “Identity politics focuses explicitly on group identity and seeks political empowerment by promoting that group as a monolithic, marginalized entity distinct from and polarized against another group depicted as a monolithic privileged entity.”
In layman’s terms, universal liberalism seeks diversity, equity, and inclusion through individuals seeking a shared humanity at the personal level — practicing the kinds of core principles and values that transcend race and other identities; things like friendship, love, respect, and tolerance for diversity are the core building blocks that unite us and provide equal access to rights, freedoms, and opportunities. Identity politics, on the other hand, are rooted in social constructivism — the idea that “truth” and “knowledge” are constructed by hierarchies of power within society. In other words, universal values and shared humanity don’t exist, and do not transcend identity (race, religion, gender, sexuality). Therefore, civil rights can only be achieved through dismantling so-called power structures in society, which, according to an anti-racist framework, require the disruption and dismantling of things like “whiteness,” “toxic masculinity,” etc.
As Pluckrose and Lindsay write:
The problems with this kind of rationale are not only that it sets different identity groups in opposition to each other, makes communication difficult, and creates a moral economy that locates social power (immunity from legitimate accusations of bigotry) in perceptions of victimhood or oppression. It also reduces the ability to be able to genuinely empathize across identities if we are understood to have entirely different experiences, knowledges, and rules.
There are three core problems with identity politics, according to Pluckrose and Lindsay:
- Epistemological: It relies on highly dubious social constructivist theory and consequently produces heavily biased readings of situations.
- Psychological: Its sole focus on identity is divisive, reduces empathy between groups, and goes against core moral intuitions of fairness and reciprocity.
- Social: By failing to uphold principles of non-discrimination consistently, it threatens to damage or even undo social taboos against judging people by their race, gender, or sexuality.
Pluckrose and Lindsay also state:
It is generally a terrible idea to have different rules of behavior dependent on identity because it goes against the most common sense of fairness and reciprocity which seems to be pretty hardwired. It is also antithetical to universal liberalism and precisely the opposite of what civil rights movements fought to obtain. Identity politics which argues that prejudice against white people and men is acceptable while prejudice against people of color and women is not do still work on a sense of fairness, equality, and reciprocity but it is reparative. It attempts to restore a balance by “evening the score” a little, particularly thinking historically.
Despite disingenuous claims from DiAngelo, the Civil Rights Movement did not employ the use of identity politics. Instead, it used the values of universal human rights and the inherent worth of every individual, and did so regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexuality. If we truly care about diversity, equity, and inclusion in America, we must resist using polarizing identity politics, and instead choose an approach based on universal human values.
Schools, businesses, and government organizations need not be locked into the ridged tenets of modern anti-racism. An informed and respectful dialogue on alternatives can broaden perspectives on diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is a companion video to the article of the same name. Thanks for watching!
by Christopher Paslay
Schools, businesses, and government organizations need not be locked into the ridged tenets of modern anti-racism. An informed and respectful dialogue on alternatives can broaden perspectives on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
For the past three months, I’ve been producing videos and writing about some of the pitfalls and drawbacks of modern anti-racism and white fragility. A common misperception is that because I criticize these approaches, I somehow oppose the fight for racial justice — specifically, the quest for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). This could not be further from the truth.
As a Philadelphia public schoolteacher, certified counselor and coach, my very livelihood is centered around these goals. Each day I work to educate my students and athletes to become critical thinkers and informed members of society, modeling the kinds of principled behaviors I’d like to instill in them. With that said, there is more than one way to skin a cat — which is to say there are other ways to achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion outside of the current trendy anti-racist approach.
The core tenets of anti-racist scholarship-activism, when you study them closely, are not without controversy. They are as follows:
- Racism exists today in both traditional and modern forms.
- Racism is an institutionalized, multilayered, multilevel system that distributes unequal power and resources between white people and people of color, as socially identified, and disproportionately benefits whites.
- All members of society are socialized to participate in the system of racism, albeit in varied social locations.
- All white people benefit from racism regardless of intentions.
- No-one chose to be socialized into racism so no-one is bad, but no-one is neutral.
- To not act against racism is to support racism.
- Racism must be continually identified, analyzed and challenged. No-one is ever done.
- The question is not Did racism take place? but rather How did racism manifest in that situation?
- The racial status quo is comfortable for most whites. Therefore, anything that maintains white comfort is suspect.
- The racially oppressed have a more intimate insight via experiential knowledge into the system of race than their racial oppressors. However, white professors will be seen as having more legitimacy, thus positionality must be intentionally engaged.
- Resistance is a predictable reaction to anti-racist education and must be explicitly and strategically addressed.
The truth is, not everyone believes racism works this way, myself included. Anti-racism is simply a theory of the dynamics of racism in America, one that is subject to flaws like any other. Likewise, so-called “anti-racist” work is simply one method of achieving diversity, equity, and inclusion, and many people believe they should have the right to oppose racism from their own political, religious, or philosophical worldviews. Unfortunately, the anti-racist approach itself makes offering alternative solutions to racial justice nearly impossible, as any form of disagreement is itself evidence of so-called “aversive racism” or oppression.
However, as scholars Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay write in their article “How to Talk to Your Employers About Anti-Racism,” it is “possible to push back at authoritarian overreach in the names of ‘Social Justice’ or ‘anti-racism’ and persuade employers and coworkers to expand their scope to include a broader range of worldviews in their anti-discrimination initiatives.”
Pluckrose and Lindsay suggest writing a letter to your employer to address your concerns about anti-racist trainings, explaining that you are familiar with the main tenets of Critical Social Justice and are not coming from a place of ignorance; and that you fully support the fight for diversity, equality, and inclusion, and are not coming from a place of bigotry. Here are eight things to consider in your letter:
- Begin with acknowledgement of the issue and why your organization is making a response at all.
- Indicate concern in a broad sense, beginning with the concern for the underlying issue, need for dialogue and action, and then expressing broader concerns, especially that hasty decisions could create unintended problems.
- Demonstrate that this concern is well-founded by explaining your familiarity with the fundamental tenets of CSJ (see, for example, our forthcoming book, Cynical Theories, explaining this) and examples in which it has been put into practice (e.g., The Evergreen State College).
- Illustrate some specific problems with the proffered approach, both theoretically (e.g., contradictions, unfairness, kafkatraps, etc.) and in application; express concern about these damaging the organization and its mission.
- Acknowledge the underlying problem again and suggest/remind that there are other ways to approach it.
- Provide some examples from liberal, egalitarian principles, make suggestions for genuine leadership training or alternative approaches to engaging diversity successfully (i.e., IKEA effect exercises, antifragility models, and so on).
- Express plainly that you believe the current course of action is a mistake that, while it signifies intention to take on the problems of current concern, could exacerbate the issues or create other new ones.
- Close with a thank you and invitation to more discussion and a willingness to take leadership roles with regard to navigating the issue, if needed or appropriate.
Being tactful and exhibiting a professional tone is very important. Pluckrose and Lindsay also state:
That you demonstrate your competence with Critical Social Justice ideas is very important. The training session or whatever you are being compelled or strongly encouraged to attend works on the assumption that you have biases you are not even aware of and that you will need to be trained to see them. This is because the worldview at hand believes people with systemic power on their sides are socialized — literally brainwashed by the power dynamics of society — to believe that they earned their dominance and that it is appropriate and natural, thus invisible to them. The training will assume that you will be resistant and defensive because you are fragile or reactionary and won’t want to confront your racism. It will label you not just ignorant but willfully ignorant — you don’t know and you don’t want to know. This means that all disagreement can be dismissed or even turned against you.
Obviously, this is not the best way to have open, honest, and productive discussions on diversity, equity, and inclusion in schools or businesses. However, when you take an honest look at the underpinnings of modern anti-racism and whiteness studies, this is exactly how these things operate. Any administrator, supervisor, or manager genuinely open to racial equality should welcome alternative points of view as long as they are stated respectfully. And Pluckrose and Lindsay have offered a plethora of resources for doing just that.
In summary, disagreeing with a modern anti-racist approach to fighting racism doesn’t mean you’re against equity and racial justice. On the contrary, you’re forwarding the cause by broadening its scope.
by Christopher Paslay
According to an article in The Federalist, “Legions of ‘trainers’ holding up ‘White Fragility’ are indoctrinating government agencies, corporate workforces, and schools. People subjected to it may have good grounds for a lawsuit.”
Adam Mill, an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law in Kansas City, Missouri, recently wrote an article in The Federalist headlined, “Teaching Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility’ Will Get You Sued.” In it he writes of a typical White Fragility training session, where a person gets labeled a “racist” for trying to defend oneself:
How does one respond to this? Using erudite, academic words, a stranger has just accused you of being an “unconscious” racist. Worst of all, if you try to deny it, that’s just “white fragility” that “obstructs” the fight against racism. Denying you’re a racist is proof that you’re a racist.
Across the country, legions of these types of “trainers” are fanning out to indoctrinate in schools, government agencies, and corporate workforces. After a period of instruction, the trainers organize their students into small groups in which only one topic may be addressed: anecdotes of “racist” thoughts and deeds that reinforce the hypothesis. It’s like a giant group trial in which the accused is allowed to apologize but never allowed to defend herself.
Of course, nobody likes to be called a racist, particularly people who strive not to be one. It’s particularly galling to be assigned this malignant opinion by a stranger who knows nothing about the accused except the color of her skin.
. . . Truly, you have the right to object. Strangers do not have a right to assume your opinions based upon the circumstances of your birth. No, we don’t all have “unconscious biases” that make up a greater tapestry of “institutional racism.” That’s an unprovable hypothesis based upon a race-based stereotype.
In your workplace environment, it might not be prudent to speak up. It might cost you your job in an unfavorable labor market. . . . If the trainer persists, or you are disciplined for resisting this racial stereotype, file a discrimination complaint with Human Resources. It’s not legal to discriminate against any race or skin color—yes, even Caucasians. . . .
HR departments should tread very carefully when selecting training in the current environment. If management pushes training that assigns collective guilt to any race, religion, sex, or ethnicity, it may constitute direct evidence of discriminatory intent in a later lawsuit claiming discrimination.
Training based on the book White Fragility, if sponsored by decision-makers as a mandatory expression of corporate culture, will likely be heavily relied upon by future plaintiffs who suspect they were denied promotions, bonuses, and other opportunities due to their skin color.
Every American is entitled to equal treatment regardless of race. That is still the law — at least for the time being. But rights have a way of disappearing if nobody speaks up.
For the record, people have been speaking up. Calling out the discriminatory actions of New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in 2019 is a prime example. His use of anti-bias training to dismantle what he called “White Supremacy Culture” in schools sparked a major backlash, prompting administrators, teachers, and parents to call parts of the workshops “ugly and divisive.”
Specifically, teachers were told by diversity consultants to “focus on black children over white ones,” and one Jewish superintendent who described her family’s Holocaust tragedies “was scolded and humiliated.” Ultimately, four white New York City school district executives, who were demoted or stripped of duties under Carranza’s administrative reorganization, sued the city, insisting he had created “an environment which is hostile toward whites.”
There is a solution to all this madness, of course — stay clear of Robin DiAngelo’s toxic White Fragility. For those teachers looking for a positive, holistic and unifying approach to ending systemic oppression . . . you guessed it: classic multicultural education is your best bet.
Brittney Cooper, an African American associate professor at Rutgers University, insists time is “white.” The National Museum of African American History and Culture agrees — publishing a pamphlet which stated that following ridged time schedules is “white culture.” This video argues that time may indeed be relative, but that following “western” time serves to increase the quality and manageability of one’s life, and that this should not be attributed to “white culture.”
by Christopher Paslay
Although the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture recently retracted its pamphlet on “whiteness,” their mission to racialize every aspect of American life and society — from education to parenting — is still moving full speed ahead.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture wants everyone to talk about race — teachers, students, parents, children — everyone. And when they say “talk” about race, what they mean is for people to willfully accept the toxic tenets of modern anti-racist ideology, which teaches that America is an inherently racist society steeped in white supremacy culture, a country that is illegitimate because it was founded on slavery and murder.
“Talking” about race also means dividing entire groups of people into dualistic camps such as white oppressors/non-white oppressed, and stereotyping entire races of people as “privileged” or “targeted,” as being “anti-black” or suffering from “internalized dominance.” Those who identify as white are taught to confront their “whiteness,” because according to anti-racist dogma, whiteness is inherently racist, oppressive, and provides unearned privileges to whites at the expense of people of color.
According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s website:
Whiteness and white racialized identity refer to the way that white people, their customs, culture, and beliefs operate as the standard by which all other groups of are compared. Whiteness is also at the core of understanding race in America. Whiteness and the normalization of white racial identity throughout America’s history have created a culture where nonwhite persons are seen as inferior or abnormal.
This white-dominant culture also operates as a social mechanism that grants advantages to white people, since they can navigate society both by feeling normal and being viewed as normal. Persons who identify as white rarely have to think about their racial identity because they live within a culture where whiteness has been normalized.
According to anti-racist ideology, a white person’s “whiteness” must be confronted, disrupted, and dismantled. Up until several days ago, the National Museum of African American History and Culture had a pamphlet up on their website titled “Aspects & Assumptions of Whiteness: White Culture in the United States” (see above).
The pamphlet was so provocational and dripping with racial stereotypes, it could have been written by a white nationalist group. In fact, popular YouTube podcaster Benjamin Boyce did a segment on this titled “‘Anti-Racists’ Indistinguishable from White Supremacists,” which I urge everyone to watch; his witty interpretation and dramatic reading of the pamphlet is worth eight minutes of your time.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture recently removed the pamphlet after allowing it to remain on their website for several months, and issued the following half-apology on Twitter:
At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, we believe that any productive conversation on race must start with honesty, respect for others, and an openness to ideas and information that provide new perspectives.
So basically, it was a non-apology apology. As for the notion of “openness,” this doesn’t include discussing data on things like school violence, crime, and father-absenteeism; these topics are clearly off the table when it comes to anti-racism, as having a “tough” conversation on race only involves attacks on so-called “whiteness.”
Benjamin Boyce also covered the retraction of the pamphlet on YouTube in a podcast titled, “Racist-Anti-Racist Propaganda Retracted—But Not Really.” Boyce’s sharp, insightful exposure of the website’s counterproductive message is also worth watching, as he lays bare their flawed methods, conflicting positions, and all round use of logical fallacies.
In short, it’s best to stay clear of the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s “Talking About Race” webpage (or maybe give it a good read to prepare to defend yourself against such dogma when it pops up in your school — see recommended reading list of criticisms here), unless you want a lesson in how to demonize whiteness and racialize society, making sure the content of a person’s character gets further obscured by polarizing, dualistic and divisive identity politics.
For those teachers looking for a positive, holistic and unifying approach to ending systemic oppression, classic multicultural education is your best bet.
by Christopher Paslay
John McWhorter, a Columbia professor and native of Philadelphia, says Robin DiAngelo’s book is “dehumanizing” and “deeply condescending to all proud Black people.”
Dr. John H. McWhorter is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University, and a native of Philadelphia. A product of Friends Select School, his resume is quite impressive: he’s taught at Cornell University, the University of California, Berkeley, and has written for numerous publications, including Time, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, among others.
Recently, he published an article in The Atlantic titled, “The Dehumanizing Condescension of White Fragility.” He writes:
. . . DiAngelo has convinced university administrators, corporate human-resources offices, and no small part of the reading public that white Americans must embark on a self-critical project of looking inward to examine and work against racist biases that many have barely known they had.
I am not convinced. Rather, I have learned that one of America’s favorite advice books of the moment is actually a racist tract. Despite the sincere intentions of its author, the book diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us. This is unintentional, of course, like the racism DiAngelo sees in all whites. Still, the book is pernicious because of the authority that its author has been granted over the way innocent readers think.
Reading white fragility is rather like attending a diversity seminar. DiAngelo patiently lays out a rationale for white readers to engage in a self-examination that, she notes, will be awkward and painful. Her chapters are shortish, as if each were a 45-minute session. DiAngelo seeks to instruct.
She operates from the now-familiar concern with white privilege, aware of the unintentional racism ever lurking inside of her that was inculcated from birth by the white supremacy on which America was founded. To atone for this original sin, she is devoted to endlessly exploring, acknowledging, and seeking to undo whites’ “complicity with and investment in” racism. To DiAngelo, any failure to do this “work,” as adherents of this paradigm often put it, renders one racist.
As such, a major bugbear for DiAngelo is the white American, often of modest education, who makes statements like I don’t see color or asks questions like How dare you call me “racist”? Her assumption that all people have a racist bias is reasonable—science has demonstrated it. The problem is what DiAngelo thinks must follow as the result of it.
DiAngelo 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. DiAngelo is less a coach than a proselytizer.
When writers who are this sure of their convictions turn out to make a compelling case, it is genuinely exciting. This is sadly not one of those times, even though white guilt and politesse have apparently distracted many readers from the book’s numerous obvious flaws. . . .
For those interested in solid criticisms of White Fragility, McWhorter’s article is well worth reading, especially because it comes from the perspective of an African American (to continue reading, click here). Perhaps one day DiAngelo will debate McWhorter head-to-head, but I highly doubt it. I’m sure McWhorter would welcome the challenge. DiAngelo, on the other hand, probably wants to debate McWhorter as much as Joe Biden wants to debate President Trump.
Which is to say, he’d wipe the floor with her.
by Christopher Paslay
These 10 resources, written by conservatives and liberals alike, provide a toolkit for understanding — and debunking — Robin DiAngelo’s toxic concepts.
Robin DiAngelo, whose white fragility theory has become one of the most influential ideas about racism in America, is a scholar-activist who has openly called for academic “revolution” as a means of de-centering whiteness in America and stopping so-called white supremacy and institutional racism.
As she writes in her seminal paper on white fragility, “Whiteness Studies begin with the premise that racism and white privilege exist in both traditional and modern forms, and rather than work to prove its existence, work to reveal it,” making it clear she’s more interested in forwarding her narrative about the oppressive nature of whiteness than in using the scientific method to prove it. In her Author’s Note to her bestselling book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, DiAngelo admits that it’s “unapologetically rooted in identity politics,” and that we as Americans “have yet to achieve our founding principle, but any gains we have made thus far have come from identity politics.”
DiAngelo’s progressive activism is rooted in ideas that lack sufficient support from social science research, and as a scholar-activist, she tends to put politics over science, making her work more about ideological preferences than rational inquiry. Her work lacks rigorous hypothesis testing and quantitative measurement; makes sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people without backing these assertions with the use of statistical analysis; relies too heavily on anecdotal observations and flawed implicit bias research; and arrogantly presents her theories as settled science rather than hypotheses to be tested and further explored.
Below is a list of 10 resources which thoroughly critique DiAngelo’s theories and the concepts that underpin them.
1. Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s Schools, Rowman & Littlefield Publications, by Christopher Paslay. This book, due out in April of 2021, uses both existing research and anecdotal classroom observations to examine the effects whiteness studies is having on America’s schools. (Click here to pre-order.)
2. The Flaws in White Fragility Theory: A Primer, New Discourses, by Helen Pluckrose and Jonathan Church. The title is self-explanatory: it’s a primer for understanding the major flaws in white fragility theory. Specifically, it analyses DiAngelo’s concept of “whiteness,” “white fragility,” and the shaky underlying concept of “implicit bias.” The article closes by illustrating how DiAngelo has constructed a house of cards full of logical fallacies.
3. White Fragility Theory Is a Bullying Rhetorical Tactic, The Agonist, by Jonathan Church. Robin DiAngelo believes that whites must shut up and listen. This article highlights how she uses white fragility theory to shut down whites — and any and all conversation — when they try to question or offer alternative viewpoints.
4. How ‘White Fragility’ Theory Turns Classrooms Into Race-Charged Power Struggles, The Federalist, by Jonathan Church and Christopher Paslay, (discussed further on the Dan Proft radio show). This article, co-authored by Jonathan Church and myself, highlights the flaws in methodology in white fragility, as well as how the approach can provoke resentment among classroom teachers.
5. Psychology’s Favorite Tool for Measuring Racism Isn’t Up to the Job, The Cut, by Jesse Singal. This article exposes the fundamental flaws of the Implicit Association Test (IAT), and Harvard’s Project Implicit website, and how the IAT has both validity and reliability issues. Implicit bias, of course, is a concept that heavily underpins DiAngelo’s white fragility theory, as well as most approaches in the schools of whiteness studies and anti-racism.
6. Diversity Training Shouldn’t Be Based On Flawed Implicit Bias Research, Philadelphia Inquirer, by Christopher Paslay. This article highlights the problems with implicit bias research, and how mandatory implicit bias trainings can have unintended negative consequences on education and business, such as hurting teacher/manager morale and provoking resentment among faculty/colleagues.
7. The Theory of White Fragility: Scholarship or Proselytization? , Areo Magazine, by Jonathan Church. This article exposes the cult-like atmosphere surrounding DiAngelo and white fragility trainings, and how the workshops are based more in religious indoctrination than in education and rational inquiry.
8. The Intellectual Fraud of Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility,’ The Logical Liberal, by David Edward Burke. Liberal activist and attorney David Edward Burke’s criticism of DiAngelo’s white fragility proves her questionable use of research and science is not simply a partisan issue. His article exposes how “Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility is snake oil masquerading as insight.”
9. Are Micro-Aggressions Really A Thing ?, The Good Men Project, by Jonathan Church. This article analyzes the scientific legitimacy of “microaggressions,” which like implicit bias, underpins much of whiteness studies, anti-racism, and white fragility theory.
10. Whiteness Studies and the Theory of White Fragility Are Based on a Logical Fallacy, Areo Magazine, (discussed further in an interview and podcast with Benjamin Boyce), by Jonathan Church. This articles exposes DiAngelo’s flawed reasoning and the logical fallacies at the heart of white fragility theory and whiteness studies in general.
According to Robin DiAngelo, niceness is not anti-racism. Whites must be blunt and actively call out the oppressiveness of “whiteness” in order to stop systemic racism. To be “less white,” DiAngelo states, “is to be less oppressive racially. To be less arrogant. To be less certain. To be less defensive. To be less ignorant.” But is this zero-sum approach — disrupting and stereotyping one group in order to advance another — really the best way to go? Is an approach based on confrontation, provocation, and agitation the best way to bond with our students and colleagues? Is forgoing curtesy and “niceness” going to develop the kind of core principles and values our community needs to create an atmosphere of teamwork and synergy?