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The Problem with ‘White Fragility’ Theory

If you are conversant with the vocabulary of progressive discourse on racism, you have probably heard of the term ‘white fragility.’ The brainchild of sociologist Dr. Robin DiAngelo, ‘white fragility’ has gained much currency in academic and progressive circles in recent years as a concept that goes a long way in ostensibly explaining why it’s so hard to talk to white people about racism.

According to DiAngelo, white people have been “[s]ocialized” to live with “a deeply internalized sense of superiority and entitlement” but they aren’t consciously aware of it. As a result, they experience “race-based stress” when faced with a challenge to their “racial worldview” because they perceive it to be an affront to their “identities as good, moral people”—an “unfair moral offense,” as well as an attack on their “rightful place in the hierarchy.” This makes it hard to talk to white people about how their attitudes and beliefs make them complicit in the perpetuation of “institutional racism.”

In other words, white people don’t want to be called racists. Of course, the idea that white people don’t like to be called racists is not an especially unique or compelling insight. Psychological defense mechanisms are commonplace in human nature. But DiAngelo wants to convince white people to let down their guard by claiming that their sensitivity is produced by a misunderstanding of the nature of racism. Racism, she claims, is not so much about explicit beliefs white people consciously hold about people of color, but about implicit—or unconscious—biases that sustain institutional inequities in the distribution of societal resources across different racial groups.

I can appreciate the difficulty of presenting social science research to a general audience unschooled in the data that have been examined and the techniques employed to examine the data to arrive at systematic results. The scientific method is demanding and is not readily accessible to everyone. For a social scientist, it is critical to the integrity of one’s work. But for a general audience unaccustomed to the rigorous and methodological nature of scientific inquiry, it can run up against long-held preconceptions about a topic, creating a degree of cognitive dissonance that impedes receptivity to new ideas and insights, especially about sensitive topics like race and racism.

But while conservatism bias is common among general audiences who are unacquainted with Bayesian reasoning (i.e. the updating of beliefs about the probability of events based on the receipt of new information), it is not always a one-way street. Scientists themselves can become so wedded to their theories that they give short shrift to reasonable objections that may arise from their audience, especially audiences not trained in their discipline. In fact, it appears that DiAngelo and her disciples have become so focused on white ‘illiteracy’ in the conversation about race that they are prepared to sacrifice the scientific method on the altar of fighting ‘institutional racism.’

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I first came across the notion of ‘white fragility’ when I began raising concerns that, in many cases, progressive activism is inspired by ideas that lack sufficient support from social science research.

For example, elsewhere I have questioned whether confirmation bias affects the judgment of social justice activists. I have lamented how progressives such as Claudia Rankine have turned the Emmy-award-winning show Breaking Bad into a paradigm of ‘whiteness’ by misinterpreting the motives that drove Walter White to become a modern Macbeth (failing, I might add, to see the irony that Walter White’s final act is the murder of white supremacists). I have questioned whether micro-aggressions really are a thing, drawing attention to a devastating critique of the micro-aggression research paradigm (MRP) written by eminent Emory University psychologist Scott O. Lilienfeld in his review of the psychological literature published in January 2017, in which he writes that the MRP “is far too underdeveloped on the conceptual and methodological fronts to warrant real-world application.” I have pointed out empirical limitations and conceptual complications in the notion of ‘white privilege.’

Finally, I have come across serious critiques of the Implicit Association Test (IAT), which is credited by many, as Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard has quipped, with “divining hidden racial attitudes, or what the trade calls ‘implicit bias’.” For example, in a 2008 paper, Gregory Mitchell of the University of Virginia and Philip Tetlock of the University of Pennsylvania highlight “psychometric flaws” in the research underlying “the elusive construct of unconscious prejudice.” In a paper entitled “Popularity as a Poor Proxy for Utility,” Mitchell and Tetlock summarize the literature on IAT as follows:

On issue after issue, there is little evidence of positive impacts from IAT research: theories and understandings of prejudice have not converged as a result of the IAT research; bold claims about the superior predictive validity of the IAT over explicit measures have been falsified; IAT scores have been found to add practically no explanatory power in studies of discriminatory behavior; and IAT research has not led to new practical solutions to discrimination.

If the science on ‘unconscious prejudice’ and the IAT is unsound, then there may be something amiss in DiAngelo’s insistence that the implicit biases of white people are a central force in perpetuating systemic inequities in the distribution of societal resources—what she calls “institutional racism.” In raising these objections with progressive friends and family, however, I have often been ignored, or met with skepticism. In essence, I have been asked, explicitly or implicitly: why are you so uptight? Why do you have a problem with the pursuit of social justice? Why do you get defensive about white privilege? I am then directed to the work of Dr. Robin DiAngelo on ‘white fragility.’

As a career economist with an undergraduate degree in philosophy, I have found myself distraught by this unwillingness to engage in debate about the merits of progressive ideas and the social science research that underlies them. I am not interested in what DiAngelo might call “protecting white feelings.” As someone whose first allegiance is to the scientific method, I consider everything fair game when the truth is at stake. ‘White solidarity’ should not get in the way when it comes to thinking critically about the hows and whys of social and economic outcomes. Thus, I do not experience any discomfort acknowledging that racial inequities still prevail in our society. I might be inclined to avoid the racism treadmill and highlight the progress we’ve made, but the data on social and economic outcomes across racial groups are clear. White people, on average, by a number of measures, fare better than ethnic and racial minorities.

While a sampling of data makes the racial divide clear, it is not clear what should be done about it. Hence, the policy debates that drive news cycles, motivate social science research, and galvanize the tirades rampant on social media. This is to be expected in a large and diverse society. But what has become regrettable—intolerable, even—is the fervor with which progressives claim the moral high ground even when confronted with social science research which should make them pause and reconsider their convictions.

The notion of ‘white fragility’ is an unambiguous example of the slippery slope that can ensue. Invoking ‘white fragility’ when presented with serious critiques of the conceptual and methodological underpinnings of the IAT, the micro-aggression research paradigm, white privilege, and other progressive ideas, is like hearing someone blithely dismiss a rigorous critique of communism as ‘bourgeois.’ One does not have to invoke communism’s worst abuses to appreciate the hostility to scientific inquiry of those who wave away objections by attributing them to a white ‘racialized’ perspective (to use DiAngelo’s word). Socialization and acculturation are powerful forces in the development of one’s capacity to think critically about social, political, and economic issues, but they do not make it impossible. To believe otherwise is to replace the scientific method (ironically enough) with a reactionary reflexive need to categorize any objections—reasonable or otherwise—as manifestations of ‘white fragility.’ In other words, ‘white fragility’ becomes an Orwellian device to dismiss objections from white people in the same way that ‘bourgeois’ was a semantic weapon to dismiss the objections of ‘capitalists’ to communist doctrine.

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DiAngelo is intent on disrupting the ‘comfort’ that white people have allegedly come to expect in their daily lives. Whether going about their business or engaging in normal conversation, she perceives them as people steeped in the privilege of the dominant social group. As someone with years of experience in the study of race and racism, and in the practice of confronting white people about the nature of racism, DiAngelo has encountered many emotional reactions in her years running diversity-training workshops. For example, she writes: “In this position, I have observed countless enactments of white fragility. One of the most common is outrage: ‘How dare you suggest that I could have said or done something racist!’”

As DiAngelo emphasizes, “implicit bias” is the where the fault line erupts. It does not matter to her that numerous problems have been discovered in the social science research that underlies the idea that implicit bias is a driving force is systemic racial inequality. Though her approach has apparently become more conciliatory over time, DiAngelo remains determined to demonstrate to “red-faced” white people that they have been socialized into a “racialized” worldview. In her stubborn persistence, invoking ‘white fragility’ elevates a banal observation about universal defense mechanisms into an old Marxist storyline about ‘false consciousness’ as a central force in the perpetuation of systemic exploitation.

As I have argued elsewhere, the specter of Marxism haunts the contemporary social justice movement. The Frankfurt School of German philosophers, writing in the aftermath of World War II, theorized that ‘false consciousness’ is a condition in which “[t]here is no visceral consciousness given to the inherent justice of the social order in which the material conditions of life are enjoyed.” They were concerned with capitalist exploitation, but the same paradigm perfectly applies to DiAngelo’s preoccupation with racial privilege and injustice.

There is, however, a supreme arrogance in presuming to have unlocked the secret of “self-imposed immaturity” (Immanuel Kant’s definition of being ‘unenlightened’) hidden in a psychological vault of ‘false consciousness.’ If arrogance were the end of it, however, I’d be content to ignore the pious divinity of this kind of social justice activism. But there is something more insidious at work. DiAngelo wants to confront white people with their complicity in the perpetuation of institutional racism. She insists that “systemic and institutional control allows those of us who are white in North America to live in a social environment that protects and insulates us from race-based stress.” In a bullet point list of examples, Dr. DiAngelo’s first example of a challenge “that trigger(s) racial stress for white people” is “that a white person’s viewpoint comes from a racialized frame of reference,” which is interpreted as a “challenge to (their presumption of) objectivity.”

I will be the first to admit that I am skeptical when presented with the suggestion that my viewpoint comes from a “racialized frame of reference.” This is not because I believe myself omniscient, invariably objective, or immune to cognitive and emotional biases. It is because I believe in the scientific method. The suggestion that a viewpoint comes from a “racialized frame of reference” is, in fact, an expression of doubt about my ability to be objective. Of course, objectivity demands that I question my claim of objectivity. In keeping with the scientific method, however, introspection should lead to testable hypotheses about whether my thoughts stem from a subjective or objective frame of reference. I have done this many times in my career as an economist.

The inconvenient truth is that the available social science research does not currently provide support for the ‘implicit bias’ hypothesis, so DiAngelo should reconsider her assumptions about the nature of racism, as well as her claims about the role of ‘white fragility’ in its perpetuation. She does not, however, appear keen to do so, despite being a trained social scientist with a PhD. For anyone who cares about the scientific method, that is both unfortunate and indicative of a willingness to subordinate facts and data to ideology.

This kind of thinking has a tendency to transform education into indoctrination. When the scientific method is subordinated to the eradication of ‘racialized’ perspectives, we cease to learn about the hows and whys of social and economic disparities across racial groups and instead become immersed in the propagation of ideas that lack support from social science research. At which point it becomes difficult to dismiss concerns that progressive activism is not about social justice at all, but about ideological intolerance and conformity, driven by agendas reminiscent of Marxist thought and activism. ‘White fragility’ has become the new ‘bourgeois’—an accusation sufficient to invalidate any heterodox opinion at a stroke.

 

Jonathan Church is an economist who specializes in inflation and a contributor to the Good Men Project. He has been published in the Washington Examiner, Providence Journal, and a few literary publications. You can find his publications at www.jonathandavidchurch.com. He does not spend much time on social media, but you can follow him on Twitter @jondavidchurch

178 Comments

  1. People should be proud of their fragility. Being sensitive to the attempts of others to control the narrative in a way that is demeaning and potentially tyrannical is a virtue that everyone should practice.

    Think about it. If Africans has been more “fragile” they wouldn’t have ended up as slaves. Being fragile to the attempts of cultural fascists to advance an anti-white political agenda insures that potential oppressors know you will choose death over slavery.

    I’m proudly “fragile.”

    • African slaves were sold primary by other Africans, and that includes those who transported over land and those over ships. Which African should have been fragile, the captured person to be sold into slavery, or the capturing person who sold them?

  2. Oliver says

    This is nothing more than a bullying tactic. The identitarian Left believes that words equal violence, uses the worst imaginable words to attack, dehumanize and demonize white people (more specifically, lower class white people, as well as white Europeans) in order to cause them real harm and provoke reaction, then proceeds to mock their victims’ reaction – that’s what the term “white fragility” is for.

  3. A friend recently recommended that I read “White Fragility.” I haven’t read it yet, and I don’t know if I could stomach reading it.

    When I first encountered “whiteness studies” and the “white privilege” discourse, they both seemed like reasonable and necessary approaches to how white people in the United States, on average, have better outcomes in terms of health, income, et cetera than most other racial and ethnic groups (though some data I’ve seen recently seem to show that Asian Americans actually have better outcomes than white people in some of these categories – correct me if I’m wrong).

    As a political Leftist who is committed to seeing those outcome gaps closed but also seeing inequalities addressed demographic categories, it has been disheartening to see that this does not seem to be the aim/goal of “whiteness studies.” The overarching theme of this discipline seems to be the equation “whiteness”/”white privilege” with “original sin” and/or “pathology.” It feels dehumanizing to me.

    I’ve written other comments on Quillette about my experiences with this ideological prison, so I will not go into elaborate detail. Let me just say that you can only hear this messaging so often until you begin believing that your own existence is the problem and that white people are the problem and should thus be eliminated. This is the arc of my own thoughts on an almost daily basis, and it could probably be accurately characterized as an obsession. This is a body of “scholarship” I wish I had never been exposed to; I wish I could erase it from my memory.

    It is comforting to see people calling this paradigm into question, though I don’t know if it’s enough to offset the very loud voices that continue to uncritically promote it.

    • Wentworth Horton says

      A few years back I met a guy selling parenting packages. Some kind of digital package, I guess. Anyway he’d never been a parent, had no interest in children or parenting, just a guy who couldn’t cut it in the real world looking for a short cut up the financial/status ladder. Cultural memes come and go, bullying last year, dog whistling this, parenting may be poised for a comeback but global warming keeps knocking it of the perch, but nothing holds the crown like race. My point is this, the subject doesn’t matter, if it’s current every manner of charleston, thief, embezzler and lowlife will attach like parasites to the various degrees, certifications and programs behind it. Race has absolutely nothing to do with it, opportunism does. Twas ever thus.

    • Daniel says

      BFF, thanks for sharing. I can appreciate how compelling a narrative that must be. I suspect it resonates more because human beings have a visceral need to be able to take action in a situation. This is why when presented with an unfortunate situation so many people would rather feel guilty (or at least, feel the strong urge to help) than feel helpless. Sounds counter-intuitive, but the human mind is a complicated place.

      Erasing a narrative is impossible. Replacing a narrative is not. Hoping you find one that takes justice seriously, but without the piles of BS guilt.

    • Oliver says

      It seems to me, the vast majority of people promoting this narrative are upper class white people, who use this messaging as a weapon in a class war with lower class white people, and it has barely anything to do with actual people of color of queer people and their concerns. However, since using the word “class” seems taboo in American society, white elites instead resort to describing working class whites as “deplorables”, “racists”, “homophobes”, etc. It’s most ironic that the people accusing struggling working-class whites of having “white privilege” and the ones with the most power and privilege in American society.
      So, BFF, you’re not the target audience for this messaging, and you should not take it seriously. The question is, whose side are you on? Struggling lower class Americans of all stripes whose concerns are ultimately ignored, or mainly white elites attempting to shit focus away from themselves as oppressors to all white people most of whom are just as powerless as everyone else is?

        • Stephen says

          We’re tripping over them. They’re everywhere.

      • Stewie Griffith says

        Bingo – a manufactured sense of guilt via the invention of “white privilege” and “white fragility” is the cudgel that our elites use to beat down any opposition to economic policies based around immigration, that surprise, surprise, generally deliver most of the economic benefits to the migrants AND the elites who fleece them like a farmer fleeces his sheep.

        It is the lower classes who end up wearing most of the social costs of high immigration – such as additional housing stress and increased competition for wages and social services, and any connection to immigration policies are immediately beaten down with cries of racism or xenophobia.

        The language of ‘white privilege’ is all about dis-empowering and disenfranchising the existing population of mainly lower working class white people, from the ability to participate in the economy and political discourse. Above all else, it is a form of class warfare.

    • Glitter Afresh says

      This is what I don’t understand — the “original sin” part. That’s absolute rubbish — and I have heard leftists say that — like how only whiteness leads to slavery, etc. Okay — can we agree that that’s really stupid, but also agree that for whatever reason, in some societies, white people benefit from white supremacy as sociological/hierarchical phenomenon and that, in some situations, white privilege is real? Because to deny that, to me, is just as stupid as saying that whites have original sin.

      This is why I don’t trust the Quillette crowd. It’s like the only reaction is an opposite reaction — not one that’s more measured — which is why I think this whole “center” and “left-center” claim is a lie. I think that you’re little feels got crinkled and you hopped right over anything being centrist and now you see the entire left as pimping for white elimination. So, the obvious answer is completely deny white privilege or inherent bias or start splitting hairs about whether physcial or verbal violence is worse. Please — this is all just a diversion — we just need to back off all the crazy and look at common sense.

      • Jeremy H says

        It’s not that “white” privilege isn’t real it’s that it’s a meaningless (and vindictive) distinction since privilege is a phenomenon that transcends race. All societies, regardless of their skin colours have forms of privilege and social hierarchy; sometimes this involves the subjection of peoples of a different race, but in most cases it’s subjection within a race. The concept of “white” privilege is bogus because the vast majority of victims of oppression within white societies have been other whites. It also deliberately confuses the advantages enjoyed by majorities in all societies as being some kind of pathology unique only to whites.

        The analogy of “white” privilege to original sin is pretty straight forward: you are born with an inherent moral flaw which you are not capable of perceiving, or correcting, without due instruction from self-appointed gurus of truth (formerly known as priests.) As it was then, so it is now: a tool for social control via the manipulation of shame and guilt.

      • Peter Whale says

        In the fifties I grew up in the east end of London where everyone was predominantly poor and white. Where was the privilege?

        • Stephanie says

          Very occasionally in Britain we hear of the over 100K children in the country who are accommodated in B&B and have been for months or years. Every six weeks or so they must up stick and move to another B&B and these seem to be mainly in the outer regions of the country. Their schooling is chaotic to say the least and they seem to come largely from an unemployed drifting poor white population who are seen to be fairly useless.

          At the time of the terrible Grenfell Tower disaster the roll call of tenant’s names afterwards were mostly of ethnic origin – immigrant families housed in the desirable parts of London and who are now vociferously calling to be rehoused in the same area after months and possibly years of temporary expensive hotel accommodation..

          The talk of white supremacy has much in common with accusations of racism…..for how does one prove that one is not racist, or suffers from white fragility? ? Such theories are easy to propound when they are almost impossible to disprove.

      • peanut gallery says

        They use the term “Original Sin” in the sense that you are born guilty of being the wrong race. In that aspect, it is a correct thing to say. There is a lot of religious thinking in progressive ideology and I think it’s ironic to describe them as prescribing the Original Sin view of the world. YMMV.

    • YES. This. When I first started reading about White privilege back in 2013, I thought it was a brilliant insight. But in the past year or so, I’ve come to hate it. It’s become– as many others have said– a bullying tactic.

  4. Enough is enough says

    That’s a lot of words where just two would have sufficed.

    Strawman argument.

    The concept of “white fragility” is false. It is a lie. It is designed to misrepresent another person’s position, and thus give an attacker an easy way to dismiss them.

  5. Europeans got a head start with the industrial revolution and social development, Victorian values etc. There is a guilt complex and the worst critics of whiteness seems to come from white society. The reality is everyone is catching up, lets focus on promoting equal opportunity. Being of British decent, I am proud of the fact that democracy, industrialisation and modern institutions mainly originated from Britain.

  6. The author uses a lot of words to make the observation that Implicit Racism doesn’t cut it vis-a vis the scientific method. Pretty sure we all got that memo. But, tragically he’s got the cart before the horse. Implicit Racism (toxic masculinity, equity, hate speech, take your pick) doesn’t avoid the scientific method in order to establish fact. The real purpose of Implicit Racism (etc), is to attack scientific method itself. You can’t force your own truth without first destroying the existing one. The issue, in this case implicit racism, and the particular individuals profiteering from it are merely the fruiting bodies of a fungus who’s mycelium is running throughout gov’t, education and media. Gazing at those fruiting bodies, all rotting and reeking, doesn’t tell us where the mycelium is or what its nutrients are. Find it, cut off its nutrients.

  7. Benjamin Perez says

    The harder to the Left one leans, the deeper into “white privilege” one sinks; the harder to the Right one leans, the deeper into “white genocide” one sinks – both are interpretive sinkholes at best, identitarian “Gods of the gap” at worst. (Both are hyperbole at best, lunacy at worst.) (Both are kernels of truth that each camp mistakenly—as well as religiously—believes are wheatfields of insight.) Everyone, Left and Right alike, needs to (re)read Susan Sontag’s classic essay “Against Interpretation” and apply her insights on art to life.

    PS: Below is something I wrote and posted to a YouTube discussion that I participated in; I thought it would go well with this Quillette discussion, too.

    Once upon a time, progressives argued against collectivist, essentialist, and especially racialist modes of categorizing (of otherizing). Similar to “Black Pathology” (which past progressives were right to critique and reject), “White Privilege” isn’t a legitimate social science concept (put another way: legitimate social scientists don’t employ that nomenclature, only social justice ideologues, equity activists, and “allies” do); similarly, “White Fragility” isn’t a legitimate psychological science concept (legitimate psychologists don’t employ that nomenclature, again, only social justice ideologues, equity activists, and “allies” do). “White Privilege” is the 21st-century—indeed, postmodern—equivalent of older Marxist (and especially Maoist) anti-“elite” jargon; as seemingly “well-meaning” as it is potentially mass-murderous. And “White Fragility” is the 21st-century—again, postmodern—equivalent of the older Marxist (and especially Maoist) bullshit notion of “false consciousness”; which, similar to Freud’s bullshit notion of “repression” (where Freud or a Freudian could dismiss any disagreement with him as “evidence” of “repression”), is pure petitio principii. Anyway, if one wants to see how the logic of collectivist, essentialist ideology plays out, then research Mao’s cultural revolution (where millions didn’t just die, but were murdered); and if one wants to see how the logic of collectivist, racialist ideology plays out, then research the Rwandan genocide – indeed, so many Hutu were so goddamn “Woke” that they made goddamn sure that hundreds of thousands of “privileged” Tutsi never woke up again. Collectivist, essentialist, and racialist thinking isn’t progressive, it’s regressive, it’s dehumanizing, it’s anti-individual dignity, it’s pro-scapegoating, it’s thinking that not only rationalizes but idealizes killing fields.

  8. Farris says

    At times what passes for scholarship can be depressing. The notions of White privilege, White fragility and institutional racism all have a central commonality, the believers can not empirically prove it but continually claim to know it when they see it. Claiming to know what is in the hearts and minds of an entire race is closer to mysticism than science. Of course there was once a time where prejudices were tolerated and on display but what the purveyors of white privilege refuse to acknowledge is those past discriminatory attitudes are today’s taboos. What are we to make of whites who were biased against white Catholics, Irish or Italians? If all whites are biased toward other races, why do some whites intermarry? Are the children of these unions half privileged? Try telling gay white men they grew up privileged. To those who insist upon believing that whites or any one for that matter spends time being much concerned about others I offer one anecdotal story: Years ago I coached my son’s little league team. Most of the players’ parents were friends of mine. I am prone to episodes of gout. During a game a particularly painful gout flare up occurred in my left foot. Each movement became more painful than the last. By the end of the game I was wondering if I could walk to the car. The game ended and I along with the players greeted the parents. The group began the long march to their cars. I limping badly lagged behind with my concerned son. No one noticed or inquired. These were and in most cases still are my friends. I guess I could have felt slighted but I realized most people are too concerned with their own lives and problems to have time for the issues of others. To those who think whites are overly threatened or concerned by you, you are wrong. Don’t flatter yourself, most just simply don’t have the time or inclination.

  9. Daniel says

    Sadly, DiAngelo is the racist here. In the guise of “helping” black people, she goes after the dominant culture. That’s all well and good, but some aspects of the dominant culture exist because they allow for unfettered, riotous success. (I base this on the assumption that 1) people come from different cultures — even those that live in close proximity to each other, 2) cultures have traditions that are advantageous or disadvantageous to success, 3) no culture is wholly dysfunctional, nor is any culture perfect, 4) what DiAngelo is describing is not skin color, but the cultures that in general accompany skin color.)
    Notice that rather than focusing on how minorities can also get in on the success, she is attributing every difference between “black” and “white” culture to be because of oppression. (I’d like to hear how music preference is oppressive, but maybe that can be one of her future studies.) Let’s take the cultural value of saving. I’m told that there is a demographic difference in saving: white families are more likely to find ways to save than black families. (If you take issue with this, that’s fine. Let me know more accurate numbers. But let’s at least assume this for the sake of argument.) Saving a little bit is possible, and becomes more possible with time. There are myriad benefits to the habit of saving that help develop that nebulous-but-critical trait: “good with money.”
    I submit that any discussion of this particular difference in black and white culture that focuses on racism/implicit bias/oppression instead of facilitating higher rates of black saving is not solving any problem. What do you call someone who devotes their life to exacerbating racial differences, as DiAngelo is doing (maybe unconsciously — just like white people’s bias)? I vote we call them racists.

    • Glitter Afresh says

      To some extent, I agree with you — taking the time to do all this navel gazing is the worst product of the left — when some action or planning, as a substitute, would be much more useful — but I’m not following you with your whole “encourage them to save like white people!” thing. Part of the reason that they haven’t saved as much and are less likely, do stem from systemic oppression.

      Obviously, for one, their ancestors are slaves from three generations ago, Jim Crowe from ONE — so, duh. They have also been discriminated against in housing and by banks — so not able to have the exposure to the same kinds of financial instruments that engender savings. Also, just having a job with enough money to save predisposes one to saving.

      So, yes, solutions, but to target solutions, you have to be able to diagnose the problem, and there are far too many here who would love to forget everything else and just lay it at the feet of “black culture.” That may be a small percentage, but it’s not the whole picture.

      • Unfortunately, you’re wasting your time here Glitter Afresh. Your second and third paragraph seems to be things the Quillette crowd simply does not want to acknowledge. Really, everything is the fault of those lazy, uneducated blacks! Most of the black people born in America in the 50s and 60s were born to parents whose mother and father were ex-slaves. And then, those born in the 80s and 90s were born to parents who grew up during Jim Crow/ at the height of segregation. Do they not far behind black people in the US lag behind literally everybody else?

        And please don’t bother with the slaves were better/ as well off as poor whites. Honestly, if the importance of freedom needs to be explained to you, I don’t see why you’re even on Quillette.

        • Oliver says

          I do not think I have ever encountered a comment on Quillette that would imply or explicitly state that “everything is the fault of those lazy, uneducated blacks”, with the exception of a prolific liberal troll with a conservative persona that assumes a few identities here, as well as whatever “ga gamba” has to say.

          • ga gamba says

            … as well as whatever “ga gamba” has to say.

            You assert, but you’re obliged to substantiate too. Your task is to prove I think “everything is the fault of those lazy, uneducated blacks”; you may use my words in any comment to demonstrate this.

            If you fail to do so I’ll conclude your assertion is groundless.

          • ga gamba says

            @Oliver, today is 1 September and you’ve been unable to substantiate your accusation. I’ve concluded you’re a liar.

        • ccscientist says

          Yes, it is true that there are legacy effects. It takes time to overcome historical events. But I do not want to be blamed now for Jim Crow laws 70 yrs ago. I wasn’t alive then.
          The flip side of this however is that many policies especially in big cities do not help minorities. Chicago has waged war on sidewalk merchants and food trucks for decades. Hole in the wall restaurants are harassed by health inspectors. In many big cities it is impossible to build new housing, which makes the price rise. In San Fran a large portion of the black community has had to move out.

          • Glitter Afresh says

            Why do you equate “being blamed” to “recognizing the problem?” And “being aware of how you don’t have to deal with that shit?” Can you suss out no difference?

        • Evan says

          I’m hoping you’re well versed in the works of Thomas Sowell? Blacks were much better off in the 60s than they are today courtesy of the welfare state. Despite billions in affirmative action etc etc.

          • Stephanie says

            I thought that he rather blamed the affirmative action for the decline, in that welfare removed the impetus to better oneself ?

        • Alistair says

          Sarah,

          The social and economic effects of historical adversity dissipate rapidly across generations, rather than accumulate. Explaining contemporary black failure by reference to slavery / Jim crow is profoundly unsatisfying from a scientific perspective.

          Why are immigrant blacks more successful that native blacks? What about Chinese and South Asians, from a background of even greater poverty or oppression? (Or the Latinos, for that matter). Why no difference between Southern and Northern blacks? Why do blacks under-achieve in Mexico and Canada? Why do black / white poverty rates and wage data narrow through the middle of the 20th century….and then widen AFTER 1960? What about the persistent SAT score differences across ethnicities? Why the lack of blacks at impeccably liberal academic institutions? Why the failure of black majority polities? Why don’t blacks do comparatively better in liberal California than the “racist” deep south? Why do SES models predict life outcomes so much better than vague appeals to historical racism?

          So many natural experiments falsify the “historical consequences of racism” model.

          The writers here at Quillete and the IDW have not ignored your argument. People trained to a high level of statistics and economics have considered and rejected it. Nearly every quantitative prediction your model makes is simply falsified by the data. If your model is falsified by data. It is wrong. Find a better one.

        • Beauzie says

          @sarahh26 Your math is way off! The black folk of the US born in the 1950’s and 1960’s likely had parents born in the 1930’s and 1940’s, and their parents 20-25 years prior to that. Slavery ended in 1865. Nevertheless, the years following Reconstruction up to the Civil Rights Act were ugly and racist, no doubt about it. That was systemic racism, bolstered by downright terrorism (lynchings). The Civil Rights Act was a watershed era in that EVERYONE’s rights were encoded in law. Black people are free to choose their own destiny. And, I believe, there are far more white people today (than 50+ years ago) who are gladdened to see black people take their rightful place as successful and fulfilled Americans.

      • Peter from Oz says

        GA

        It is true that we have to recognise the problem. But you seem to wish to wallow in it. Slavery endend in 1865. SO it would be impssoble for people born in the 1950s to have had parents.who had been slaves.
        The problem is tha many black people need help. So how does society and government best supply that help? It certainly doesn’t do it by allowing black activists to cry ”racism”. The only people that heps are the activists and the white enablers.
        The irony is that white do-gooders caused the real problem underlying black poverty and underachievement. By offering government money to women with children but no live-in father, the Government caused the breakdown of black families and removed the positive male role-model from black communities.
        But of course that suited the leftists just fine. They need a fatherless group, constantly clenched on the teat of the government purse, so as to ensure they have a permanent reason for an ever-growing State.

  10. Shank says

    The funniest thing about all this ‘White fragility’ nonsense is that the people who harp on about it the most are also obsessed with microaggressions. I mean, can you get any more fragile than throwing a hissy fit because someone asked you where you’re from?

    • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

      Yes. Did anyone ever asked you were you were from as if you had to justify your presence in the country where you were born?

      • Peter Kriens says

        1) How do you know what was on their minds?
        2) Who cares what is on their minds?
        3) Yes, since I’ve lived abroad for the last 25 years

        How simple can your life be if something like this can get your knickers twisted … 🙁

        • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

          1) I know there is something about me that makes them question my origins

          2) I care as much as they care about my origins

          3) You were a foreigner, not a native asked where he’s from

          Arguing from ignorance as usual. Whites literally can’t put themselves in a non-white person’s shoes.

          • J milla says

            I’m far from PC, but I tend to agree with you about this. The other poster could have picked a much better example of a silly microagression. I dated a girl who’s parents were from the Phillipines al l through high school and I saw how much it bothered her the few times people asked her that question in m presence. I take her hurt seriously precisely because she was rarely offended at anything.

            Sort of ironically my wife feels the same sort of annoyance when Latinos assume she speaks spanish. Her mom is from Africa and her dad white, but she ended up lookingretty ambiguous and a lot of Latinos assume she’s one of them so she probably speaks spa ish. Ironically she’s a fluent French speaker with a bachelor’s degree in French (before she came to her senses and went to grad school for something profitable.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            No microaggression is silly though. Microaggressions are just instances when someone’s implicit bias shows.

            Of course not everybody is equally sensitive to microaggressions and yes some people may see hostility where there isn’t. But the whole thing remains valid.

            Whites are also victims of microaggressions, it’s not something that was made up to claim all whites are inescapably evil.

          • Glitter Afresh says

            I agree with you, Afrosapiens — Peter is being very obtuse. When he gets made about it — then it will be the perfect example of white fragility.

          • James Lee says

            @Afrosapiens,

            I agree humans can be rude and insensitive, and some people may be acting in an insensitive manner when they ask you, “where are you from?”

            However, many humans are simply curious. They like to meet people from other countries (and even different parts of the same country). They have zero intention of asking you to justify your presence in that country.

            The problem with the whole concept of microaggressions is that it teaches people (generally young people) to automatically assume the worst of intentions, and that they should feel bad and insulted by a wide range of social interactions.

            So many times in life, we just don’t know someone’s intentions. We can adopt a charitable stance and assume the best until proven otherwise, or we can adopt a negative and suspicious stance that assumes the worst regardless.

            Forget about politics, the charitable stance is simply a healthier way to live. Even if a person happens to be a jerk, it is still a healthier way to live.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            I am not paranoid, I’m decently good at reading people. Some people are just curious and are genuinely interested in my personal story, and in some other cases it’s not the case. The assessment is always subjective. However, I very seldom feel the need to know whether a white person’s ancestors are from Germany, Italy or Ireland. You know what I mean, white people seldom get asked about where they’re from.

          • RadixLecti says

            Get over it. If your problem has the prefix “micro” it literally isn’t a problem at all.

            I’m brown and leftist, btw, since you love identities so much.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            So, microeconomics is irrelevant because of the “micro” prefix.

            Microaggressions are real and not without consequences. They surely don’t cause insufferable psychological distress but they perpetuate a climate of distrust and misunderstanding.

            So it’s perfectly legitimate to study them.

          • Paul Ellis says

            “However, I very seldom feel the need to know whether a white person’s ancestors are from Germany, Italy or Ireland. You know what I mean, white people seldom get asked about where they’re from.”

            I’m white, and I quite often ask white people where they’re from. This is because I’m interested in voices, dialects, and accents. I usually ask where a person’s *accent* is from, not where *they* are from. I’ve never had a negative response; I’ve usually had pleasant conversations; and I’ve learned a lot.

            Many people remain proud of ‘where they’re from’ and are pleased to be asked. I’ve never been accused of ‘microagression’ merely by taking an interest in the way someone speaks.

          • Indie Wifey says

            Yes they can.
            I’m first gen American and was in college before a teacher/prof could pronounce my last name
            as kid/young adult to see or speak my last name (Ukrainian) resulted in 1) dumbfounded silence 2) chronic incorrectness (unwillingness to try. It’s not that difficult) and 3) ridicule (as kid)
            So funny – I’m glad “micro aggression” didn’t exist as term or trend to further mire me in what I saw as simple ignorance

      • I’m 1/2 Black & 1/2 Mexican, and appear to look like neither. People often ask me where I’m from or what my last name is. They are curious as to my ethnic mix. I don’t sense any harm or malice in the question, just curiosity.

        • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

          I’m black with Asian eyes, I am not mixed. People ask what’s my background sometimes and I don’t usually take offence. It all depends on context, sometimes it is offensive other times it is not. Social interactions are complex, it’s not a reason to deny the reality of microagressions.

          • Glitter Afresh says

            I think it’s, specifically, asking someone where they’re “from” in the US or Europe, who is nonwhite. You actually have to be kind of an asshole or literally ignorant to do that — it’s literally a manifestation of your inability to understand that just because someone isn’t white doesn’t mean they’re “from” somewhere else. And there are plenty of people who ACTUALLY believe that the USA is a white nation and should be that way — so continuing to do that really shows you have your head in the sand.

            And why should one take offense if told their question is insensitive? Just learn and find another way to ask it — I think it’s fine to be curious about someone’s heritage, but to implicitly assume that the US (UK, Europe, AUS, Canada) isn’t their country of origin is common rudeness at this point.

            Degrees do make a difference and ignorance has some culpability, whether the intent was there — at least, insofar to accept the “punishment” of humility and learning.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            As a matter of fact, the “where are you from” question is not the most offensive microaggression, the most offensive are those that relate to abilities and behavior.

            As far as I remember, the only time being asked where I’m from really shook me was during a job interview, a context that is already stressful in and of itself.

            Otherwise, I accept that people make mistakes as long as they realize it and try not to repeat it. The denialist and unapologetic stance of the right makes my blood boil though.

          • ccscientist says

            I am white and am constantly asked where I’m from. Perhaps my accent is nonstandard since I lived in N, S and West. But many people have traveled and lived all over the US or the world and “where” is a way of connecting.

          • Paul Ellis says

            “I don’t usually take offence. It all depends on context, sometimes it is offensive other times it is not.”

            And I’m supposed to be able to read that faultlessly, without ever making a mistake? And if I make a mistake, am I never to be forgiven for it, despite the fact that all I have perpetrated is an unintended insult?

            This is why, although I often ask white people where their accent is from, I rarely do the same with POC. I fear they’re likely to be primed to take my innocent enquiry the wrong way. (The exception is yellow people. They’re fine, and not touchy at all.) Once bitten, twice shy. And, sadly, both our losses.

        • dirk says

          I recognize that James, but think it’s quite different where you live. In the NL, small country with a language that only the Dutch speak, in summer you are very often served by waiters that don’t speak our language, because they are from Estonia, Hungary or Poland to make some money as a waiter in their holiday. Old people are disturbed by that English, and often just go to another terrace to order. I am always curious, and ask (if they are not too busy)
          – Where are you from-
          I really never have had, that they then looked disturbed, but mostly they are happy to tell something about their country, the city, the language there (Hungarian, very strange language). Never, never felt that it was not proper to ask.
          In the US maybe this is different. There, everybody is just only a US citizen (if we may believe Obama).

      • Jenny says

        I love to ask where people are from because I’m truly curious about another person’s experience and interested in different cultural perspectives. It can be helpful to understand where someone is from (or what culure they grew up in) because cultural experience and frame of reference is important to know when you are relating to someone who has a different experience from yours – I also like to find the similarities between different cultures and experiences. I don’t ask because I am questioning their ‘belonging’ or right to be there. I find it insulting that my intention and motives are suspect when I look to connect with someone in this basic way. Most people feel good when someone is interested in their story.

        Inevitably some people will use speech to degrade or put down another – but ANY words can be abusive in this way when the intent is there. I think it’s sad that the narrative is now that we are looking for insults in everything and poised to attack the most tenuous of connections to the meanings of words or their origins or the possibility of bad intentions.

        Have you considered that you may have a *belief* that you NEED to “justify your presence” and are therefore projecting that intention onto others? I’m not saying you haven’t experienced abuse or rudeness at times with some using your accent or color or place of origin – but so have I based on any number of other characteristics or preconceived notions about me or purely malicious need to put me down.

        • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

          Hey I’m definitely not saying anyone who asks people about their background do it with bad intentions. But sometimes it is, and even when it’s genuine curiosity, it is just tiresome in the long run.

          Just like when people touch my hair and say it’s wool. It’s more dumb than offensive, and I know they’re not meaning I’m a weird animal. I’m not saying it causes me psychological distress but I’d be just fine without it. Also, all of this comes on top of explicit racist incidents. It’s not “the media” or “the academia” that creates the sentiment of hostility, life experience does it.

          • Jenny says

            the problem is, though, that the political landscape has made that the assumed meaning. and anyone who asks, regardless of intent, is accused of racism, etc. instead of making intent at issue, we’ve decided to weaponize the policing of speech. So, because ‘sometimes’ it happens we’ve decided to criminalize that behavior? Actually, not only the behavior, but criminalize and demonize the person. that’s a problem.

            I’m sorry that it is tiresome to hear certain questions about yourself over and over – but what makes you think that others with different particularities about their physical appearance or background aren’t also subject to ‘tiresome’ comments that they hear over and over (and maybe also internalize to negative effect?) Sorry, that’s the human condition – our characteristics are what people notice about us; it’s not particular to your racial experience – your racial experience is just where that shows up for you as opposed to any number of other ways that is manifested for different people. Btw, I am a Jew and have a ‘jew-fro’ and have people ask to touch my hair as well (I’ve also had issues in the workplace and accused of having ‘unkempt’ hair and cited for it as a result – but I’m ‘white’ so I guess I don’t get to know anything about, nor have it acknowledged when prejudice, bias or bullying happens to me)

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            No, the political landscape is Donald Trump’s hatred-mongering, torrents of racial slurs all around social media, the normalization of prejudice and intolerance.

            What criminalization are you talking about? Who is dead or in jail for saying something racist today? Who is saying microaggressions should be criminalized? It’s already tough enough to get justice for blatant discrimination and abuse that nobody in their right mind can hope to do anything about microaggressions.

            What we just want is that people acknowledge that they sometimes hurt people without the conscious intent to do so. It happens with various topics and in various contexts, why wouldn’t it apply to race relations?

            Now you say you’ve been through those experiences too and just conclude that it’s the human condition. Good for you. But by saying this, you acknowledge the reality of microaggressions but you serve it to me with the typical “get over it” that conservatives like so much. Unfortunately, not everybody is able to get over it and blaming the victim doesn’t help.

            Why is it such an issue to ask people a simple introspection effort? There is no criminalization or whatever. We just want people to realize that some behaviors are hurtful and that they might think twice before acting in certain ways. That’s it.

          • Jenny says

            Now you are picking and choosing and taking out of the context of this discussion what I mean when I say ‘the political landscape’ and creating a strawman to accuse me of something I am not saying. I am referring to the Left political culture which is what this article is referring to – the context of the discussion here. And it is very much a mob-rule mentality where you are publicly criminalized and accused, again, what this article is speaking to. This is another tactic of the identitarian Left: switching up the intent and context of the argument to make a point and accuse the other person of not getting it or worse (being an uncaring racist.)

            I am also not at all saying to just ‘get over it’ – I’m pointing out that we need to recognize what is and isn’t racism or a microaggression, or at least not assume that everything is; and to also recognize that not only certain groups are subject to it, which is very much what the political narrative on the Left IS saying now – that ONLY some groups can claim harm by bad behavior and if you are white you can’t possibly understand it. NOWHERE IN MY COMMENT did I say racism doesn’t exist, that it’s not a serious problem or to get over it. I was talking about how more and more behaviors that aren’t necessarily racist are being treated as being so; as a general assumption – as a new ‘rule’.

            “Why is it such an issue to ask people a simple introspection effort? There is no criminalization or whatever. We just want people to realize that some behaviors are hurtful and that they might think twice before acting in certain ways. That’s it.”

            – and that’s the same thing I’m asking, but I’m asking you to consider that it’s something that happens to many people who don’t ‘qualify’ under the new rules of the Left. I would like you to realize that I’m a human being too, and subject to the same effects, so being treated like I can’t possibly understand is insulting; and with blanket accusations of ‘white fragility’ (the subject of the article this discussion centers around, which is a form of automatic social criminalization) somehow that these things happen to others is overlooked or ignored.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            No, I’m not creating a strawman, I’m reminding you in which era we are living. An era that is very far from the speech policing and self-censorship culture you describe. If you didn’t know, there are entire sections of the internet that are simply unreadable for a black person. The media still relays a lot of stereotypes that make us uncomfortable and political discourse is just vitriolic. The political culture of the left rather seems like a trivial issue before what I have mentioned before.

            What is their wrong? They exert their freedom to express disapproval, why would you have a problem with it? Then you talk about mob-mentality, it’s well known that the left has a more elaborate culture of activism than the right. It’s normal, left-wing ideologies are rooted in system-challenging whereas the right wing is rooted in system-justification, so the former is more experienced in collective action. But again, they violate no law. Some individual people may send death threats or use other intimidation tactics but it’s not just the left that does it, in fact I suspect it is more frequently the right wing that commits such offenses, judging from the cases of online harassment that I’m aware of. Either way, the number of incidents probably pale in comparison with the 6000+ hate crime incidents reported by the FBI last year.

            I don’t think your feeling of persecution is justified. I’m even tempted to say “get over it”, carry on, social disapproval isn’t a death sentence.

            Same with racism, you make a grave distortion. Pointing to some forms of racism doesn’t mean arguing that everything is racist. As for who is the victim of racism, nobody says whites can’t be the targets. Or at least I don’t agree with the minority who think so.

            But there are a few problems with racial victimization when it comes to whites:

            the first problem is that whites are overwhelmingly dismissive and derisive of racism and it is hard to make them feel concerned about it, which indicates that it is not a major aspect of their lived experience.

            Secondly, those whites who claim to be victims of racism are actually racists pushing things like “white genocide” or criticizing affirmative action. So we know their victimization discourse is pure sophistry.

          • Jenny says

            … and btw, I have been extremely harmed by some of the experiences I’ve had. I don’t think I should ‘just get over it’, and neither should you when actions are coming from ill intent or prejudice. I’m just saying to attribute everything as racism and then also maintaining that white people can’t experience similar prejudices is a problem in the dialogue. One that has caused serious problems and backlash which makes it harder to get many people to take the time for introspection.

          • Andrew_W says

            I’ve got a couple of kids with very blond hair, several times Asian tourists, on spotting the kids have become quite excited about the kids hair, wanting to touch it and get selfies with them, on one or two occasions I’ve felt it’s gotten a bit out of hand with the kids feeling intimidated by the crowding.
            I wouldn’t call the people “dumb” and it’s not offensive either, but could get tiresome.

          • Jenny says

            Interesting that you make a point of saying my experience of persecution isn’t justified when you have no idea of what my experiences have been (save one example I gave that was similar to one you brought up) How convenient that you can make such a sweeping statement about my experience? You know almost nothing about me, or what other prejudices I’ve been subject to. Isn’t that the point, that making sweeping statements about another person based on nothing more than our own assumptions is problematic?

            Yes, you did make a strawman and decided that the context of political culture is only that of Donald Trump, rather than the context of this article’s, and that therefore it is the only context I could possibly be referring to; and refuse to recognize in what context my argument lies, shifting it to suit your own argument. This is the problem. You are unwilling to acknowledge my point in any context. You then say that you, personally, don’t agree that white people can’t be recipients of racism; however the critical race theory that the racism narrative revolves around now absolutely, unequivocally insists on this fact. The political landscape isn’t dictated by your personal beliefs – and what is up for discussion here is that over-arching narrative and the environment it creates. I’m glad you are able to acknowledge that it is possible to have prejudice toward any person. I hope you would agree that power dynamics are relative to the context and that there are many other contexts that one might find themselves where the ‘white culture’ isn’t so relevant?

            You then state that social disapproval isn’t a death sentence; however, it is, in fact scientifically proven to be the cause of severe psychological distress and results in morbidity and premature mortality. This is an important point in the case for historical trauma within minority groups, so it’s strange that you seek to dismiss it if someone else is the victim who doesn’t belong to an (acknowledged) historically oppressed group. I never told you to ‘get over it’; however you feel completely justified in telling me my pain is meaningless. wow.

            You say: “Same with racism, you make a grave distortion. Pointing to some forms of racism doesn’t mean arguing that everything is racist.” – I am not making a distortion, this is actually the point I was arguing, that the Left’s current ‘diversity’ narrative IS that everything coming from a white person is racist. That every possible misstep is racist and comes from bias. That’s not the same thing at all as saying that there isn’t racism and it’s not a distortion of racism unless you are an adherent of critical race theory. In which context then, yes, I am ‘guilty’ of ‘white fragility’ and a racist.

            I’d accept many of your points as true and relevant to a discussion about racism; however since you are unwilling to argue in good faith with me here in the context the argument I’ve made, and insist on using those as a way to tell me why I don’t deserve the same considerations as you, I will end my comments here.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            I’m referring to your feelings of persecution from the left when I say get over it. And yes, social disapproval isn’t a death sentence, freedom of speech doesn’t imply freedom from consequences. Your analogy with racism is misplaced. Being rejected for things you say or do is not the same as being rejected for something you are and that you can’t change.

            What you call the left’s oppressive tactics is in fact only you not being able to deal with the criticism that inevitably arises when someone expresses unpopular ideas. What else would you expect? Do you think conservatives were more tolerant when they had entire control over society’s value system?

          • Jenny says

            I really dislike having my words twisted. I was not making an ‘analogy with racism’ with my invoking the harm of social disapproval; merely making the point that the harm of racism has one of its main tenants based in the fact that there is, in fact, harm from social disapproval. And it is scientifically proven that it is indeed harmful. Your insistence that this isn’t so undermines the arguments about the harm of racism; that’s a different thing entirely than comparing it. I am not making an ‘analogy’ that the disapproval tactics of the Left are the same as racism. But thanks for once again conflating my arguments in a way that enables you to accuse me of not understanding racism or making it somehow less than it is.

            I also did not state that ‘persecution’ from the Left (which I consider myself a part of) is what I was referring to as the prejudice and rejection that I have experienced, but again, you decided to conflate my words to make it seem like that was what I was talking about. Those were two different points. And, btw, the prejudice that I have experienced has been analogous to racism in that it also based on unchangeable characteristics and things that I do not have a ‘choice’ in, not my political beliefs or where I stand politically, but I guess it’s convenient to make it seem like that was what I was saying to make your point and to discredit me.

            additionally, making the comment that conservatives are worse is not relevant to the discussion. Who ever said I liked conservatives or their tactics?? I’m commenting on assumptions of the Left, which stand on their own. It’s like when the Trumpists bring up Hillary if you criticize them… same tactic. Please review my comments again in the same self reflective way that you wish people would consider the issues of racism.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            Social disapproval in the form of being criticized for holding unpopular views is not a death sentence. I stand by that. Some on the right actually enjoy “triggering” liberals.

            And sorry but when you accuse the left of ideological persecution of opponents, it literally sounds like persecution delirium. They do nothing wrong in my opinion. And yes it is important to put things in perspective and to remember that the right wing is incredibly more intolerant of other points of view and much more dogmatic in mindset. So it is not appropriate to single out liberals just because you disagree with them on the issue of what is racism and who is targeted.

      • @Afrosapiens
        If someone at an American college asks you where you’re from:
        1). If you have an accent that isn’t a regional American one then it’s a fair assumption that no matter the color of your skin, you’re likely an international student. In which case the question should be a valid one.

        2.) If you don’t have an accent and you are still asked where your from then how do you know they’re not just referring to what STATE your from?
        It is very likely in a college, located in the US that at least 15% of those students are likely international.

        It seems to me that equality between the races has improved so much that, what constitutes racism has to keep growing broader and broader in scope.
        The closer one is to equality, the more intolerable any differences become.

        There is a shortage of true racist in the U.S. today so the racist grievance market has to invent new ones.

        More importantly than all of this, is that the Diversity trainings ect…. have been shown not to work and in some cases backfire. This is another instance in the leftist experimentation of social engineering that has unintended consequences. (Other examples include, Socialism / Communism, The French Revolution, forced School Bussing programs ect…. )

        • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

          Put the “where are you from” question aside and just acknowledge that there are many social incidents that whites rarely experience but are common in the life of non-whites. We call them microagressions because they are not consciously thought to be hurtful by the perpetrators, yet they cause discomfort to the victims. You probably had non-whites implicitly assuming various things based on your race, maybe you cared, maybe you didn’t, it’s a matter of personality.

          But you can’t simply dismiss microagressions by telling people to “get over it”. This “get over it” thing that comes so easily in the mouth of white conservatives is the worst thing to hear.

          • @Afrosapiens
            Actually, wouldn’t it be better for non-whites (here in america) to develope an inner resilience of strength? That way no matter what words were said to or against you (not in the legal case just everyday words) you could learn to shrug them off. I’m not saying it would be easy and that it wouldn’t take some serious mental health help towards achieving this, but it seems much more anti-fragile to go this route.
            That way, no matter where you go in the world you could take this inner resilience with you, like a turtle shell that you carry around. As it stands, the whole notion of “White Fragility” relies on “re-educating and taming” a target population (specifically whites in Western societies) to watch every word they say around all non-whites. And even if you tell them, “it just means being mindful of the privelage you hold and of the eternal, seemingly never ending oppression of non-whites”, this will still have the effect of white people avoiding non-whites altogether so as not to cause harm or offense.

            Here’s a thought experiment, let’s say that everyone in America is now trained in Whiteness studies and all white people are very aware of their privilege and all micro-aggressions and macro-aggressions are a thing of the past. Now, let’s say a non-white (say, a black person) travels overseas somewhere, like, China, Japan, Greece or Hungry or wherever, and this black person is instantly hit with not only micro-aggressions but outright bigotry and true classical racism. How does one deal with that? Back home, the majority had to restrain themselves to walk on eggshells around black people and pander to them but the rest of the world DOESN’T give to $hites!! They have no historic guilt and they haven’t been inundated with whiteness studies. You’re not going to have tools to deal with this, because the whole world has racism and bigotry it’s not just the West or America.

            It seems a better use of resources to arm blacks and all non-whites with cognitive behavioral therapy tools so that each individual could take this with them wherever they went into the world. It would be a struggle but seems so much more worth it to me. Inner strength, inner grit is a lifetime investment that no one can take from you. It’s not dependent on the outside world. It’s something the individual themselves have control of.

            Let’s face it, Micro-aggressions are really just self esteem issues in the mind of the person effected by them. Micro, by its definition is small and not intended to be harmful. I’m sure it is caused by the centuries of oppression and abuse no doubt. But after the laws are changed and actions are put in place to help minorities and discrimination is outlawed then what comes next is inner work on your part.

            What role do non-whites have in helping themselves live in a society filled with a lot of white people? Same with gays in a world filled with straight? We owe you tolerance and that’s it.

          • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

            Sorry that I can only reply to this long and elaborate post by a very short and plain answer: blacks and other non-whites are VERY resilient already .

            Racism doesn’t make us depressive, but things like microagressions need to be studied and prevented if possible.

      • Shank says

        I’m afraid today’s regressive leftists regard even a friendly inquiry into one’s heritage as a microaggression. Over the course of my life I’ve received many such enquiries and have never once felt even the slightest bit victimised.

        • Shank says

          Actually, I can go farther than that. I’m a native Irish citizen. I spend much of my life in Ireland. However, my father is German and from his side of the family I have inherited slightly slanted eyes and unusually high cheek bones, making me look vaguely Asiatic in appearance. Over the course of my life, I have been asked COUNTLESS times whether or not I was Chinese, and on many occasions my denials were disbelieved! I never once felt as though they were questioning whether I ‘belonged’ in Ireland. Like, that thought literally never occurred to me.

          But that was before the age of microaggression theory, when people weren’t encouraged to overthink everything by a society which confers social stature on self-identified ‘victims’.

      • ccscientist says

        “as if you had to justify your presence” no actually many people use it as a conversation starter. When I ask a Chinese person what part of China I then say where I traveled in China. Pretty hostile, eh?

    • “blacks and other non-whites are VERY resilient already . ”

      Thinks that simply asking someone where they are from constitutes an agression.

      Sure.

  11. A local newspaper article describes a discussion of “white fragility” and leaves me asking: who is the “fragile” one here?

    “Marblehead [MA] Residents Discuss White Fragility At Abbot Library.”

    June 21, 2017 (Tribune News Service) – On Monday, 36 people gathered at the Abbot Library to have an open conversation about implicit bias and white fragility in the second installment of the Marblehead Racial Justice Team’s “Conversations on Race,” discussion series. The evening was facilitated by Racial Justice Team members. “We have conversations, we have dialogue,” said one team member. “It’s not a place for debate.”

    Team member Ms. Moore gave an example to illustrate white fragility, which is “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves,” according to Dr. Robin DiAngelo.

    Moore gave a scenario in which she walks through Abbot Hall and tells her white friend that the pictures of white men make her uncomfortable. The friend might react defensively, saying things like, “I didn’t do that” or “my ancestors weren’t slave masters.”

    So, “pictures of white men [in a Massachusetts public library] make her, [an adult black female] uncomfortable.” Who is the truly fragile one in this example?

    • ga gamba says

      “We have conversations, we have dialogue,” said one team member. “It’s not a place for debate.”

      No disagreement allowed presumably. Listen to your accuser and believe.

      The neck of these adherents is truly astounding. Actually, since they’ve constructed a Kafka trap where denial is taken as further evidence the accusation is true, I think the tactic qualifies as evil. From start to finish the ideologues’ interaction, the discourse, is malevolent. Justice is twisted into a spiteful, horrifying parody of itself and serves only those in charge who permit themselves the luxury of avoiding evidence and reasoned arguments upon which the truth rests.

      Oh silly me, there is no truth. Carry on.

    • Imagine a black woman walking through the halls at Morehouse with a white friend. The white friend says “These portraits of black men are making me really uncomfortable.” The black woman says “WTF?”

  12. sorethumb says

    Isn’t DiAngelo misinterpreting ethnocentrism? In other words ethnocentrism is a two way street where the underdog finds a way to de-value the upper dog? A nasal spray of oxytocin invokes stronger feelings for the ingroup – outgroup?

  13. Nowhere to submit errors. As DiAngelo emphasizes, “implicit bias” is the where the fault line erupts.

  14. dirk says

    If confronted with white fragility,supremacy or privilege, I always must think on a scene in a Chaplin film. The small, fragile Charley against a giant street fighter. Charley hits him from behind on the head with a club, and the giant senses something is troubling him, sticks a finger in his ear, as if an insect is the trouble maker.

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  16. Nanda says

    All good stuff. I did stumble on the author’s “I believe in scientific method.” Use of scientific method surely isn’t any more a matter of belief than use of a hammer. He risks introducing a belief equivalence with reading the entrails of a sacrificed chicken. Believers in the cult of identity politics urge and will latch onto such equivalence (just as in ‘atheism is just another belief’). Beliefs are just that. There are no beliefs in science.

    • The author is using the term ‘believe’ as a synonym for ‘accepting’ the scientific method, not suggesting that the scientific method is merely a belief system.

      There’s no way anybody who read the entire article could reasonably interpret it’s usage the way you did.

    • dirk says

      You are very right here Nanda, scientific methods to strengthen your value arguments? Like Marx did? Or maybe Hitler even? It’s too ridiculous, but it’s tried again and again, even often here on Quillette. But I wonder if any genuine academic would ever dare to come forward with such nonsense!

    • peanut gallery says

      The scientific method was invented by white people and is thus racist. Check. Mate.

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  18. Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

    All your social science research is irrelevant when neuroscience shows very clearly how implicit bias works in the brain.

    • Northern Observer. says

      As if the promptings of neuroscience can’t be measured by human actions. Try Again.

      • Afrosapiens 🇫🇷🇪🇺 says

        Please elaborate on how neuroscience research on racism isn’t legitimate and violates the scientific method.

        • ga gamba says

          That what’s asserted without evidence may be disputed without evidence. You can’t return with the demand for what you have refused to provide yourself in your first comment. I’ll cut you a break because I’ve learnt you’ve experienced trauma by being asked, “Where are you from?” and this may have knocked you off your rocker. For the microagression you suffered you have my microsympathy.

          To my current understanding, the EEGs used by neuroscientists don’t measure bias, implicit or not. They use electrical neuroimaging to see which parts of the brain are activated in response to the stimulus. The stimuli often comes from some type of implicit bias test that’s used whilst brain activity is measured.

          Psychological researchers do not simply assume that their measures work. Instead, they conduct research to show that they work. If they cannot show that they work, they stop using them. To show they work the results need to be valid and reliable. They need to be reproducible.

          A test has strong test-retest reliability when a user retakes it and gets a roughly similar score. Perfect reliability is scored as a 1, and defined as when a group of people repeatedly take the same test and their scores are always ranked in the exact same order. This rarely happens. The coefficient of reliability is important. A psychological test is considered strong if it has a test-retest reliability of at least 0.8 and it’s good if 0.7. A split-half correlation of .80 or greater is generally considered strong internal consistency; that coefficient is also true for Cronbach’s α.

          Race IAT is found to have a test-retest reliability of 0.44. (Source: www(dot)researchgate(dot)net/publication/309563293_Temporal_Stability_of_Implicit_and_Explicit_Measures_A_Longitudinal_Analysis) The IAT’s overall test-retest reliability is about 0.5. (Source: www(dot)faculty(dot)washington(dot)edu/agg/pdf/Lane%20et%20al.UUIAT4.OCR.2007.pdf).

          Though 0.44 is significantly higher than 0, it is also much more significantly less than 1.

          So, the foundation (the IAT) on which the your claims of neuroscientific proof rest is suspect, if not flawed. Some papers argue the IAT does not measure truly unconscious thought. (Source: www(dot)bertramgawronski(dot)com/documents/GHW2006CC.pdf). Another problem in the IAT is only two dichotomous concepts can be paired. Further, it relies on the switching of blocks which establish a pattern and then toss in incongruence. The respondent had already learned, or at least experienced, one set of responses, and has to unlearn, or disassociate himself, from the earlier experience, and re-learn the new responses in the second block. A delay is deemed evidence of implicit bias. This strikes me as a bit of stretch given the replicability problem. There is also the issue of extrapersonal information, which you can read about www(dot)ncbi(dot)nlm(dot)nih(dot)gov/pmc/articles/PMC2853807/.

          Now, you may find a test-retest replicability of 0.44 to 0.5 to be strong; that’s your choice. Frankly, if someone is mucking about in my noggin and drawing conclusions about me I expect the test to be valid and reliable above that. Perhaps you’ve heard of the replicability crisis in psychology? In not, here’s good account of it. This statement, “[In] over a century of psychology publications. . . just 1% of papers attempted to replicate past findings,” is astonishing.

          I can understand why the IAT is popular amongst some. In the near absence of macro aggressively behaviour and people socialised to say (or not say) certain things, compelling evidence of isms is infrequent. We can concoct micro- and nanoaggressions, but many find them laughably absurd, which likely results in a (pico)aggression experienced. How can we keep the public fixated on the issue of isms? IAT may be the solution. It certainly has created a number of well-paid consultants running around to and fro conducting training sessions that are found to not stick, but that’s another issue. “Here’s the problem, here’s the training based on its identified cause, and it doesn’t work” suggests to me the problem hasn’t been identified or has been incompletely so.

          Ultimately I’m looking at behaviour, and if an ism is rarely expressed because it been socially suppressed or learnt away, then that’s sufficient enough to me. I don’t need to get into one’s mind to determine whether it’s pristine or not.

    • RadixLecti says

      Have you tried the implicit bias tests yourself? They’re publicly available. I have and I have got different results each time. I’m biased towards and against fat people, towards and against black people, towards and against women… I’m sure if I tried the others I would get similarly non-repeatable results.

      • ga gamba says

        I have.

        Aside from the replicability problem, which I experienced too, my other objection is the dichotomous orientation. When we are interacting with people we are dealing with more than just a two-dimensional image. We’re taking in stimuli from not only the person, but the environment and context of the interaction. Further, if non-verbal communication is 93% of communication as claimed by may researchers, I’m taking in haptics, proxemics, gestures, etc. Within the verbal part, aside from the words themselves, there is vocalics, tone, etc. And don’t even get me started about how I feel about and experience an interaction if I really need a cup of tea. Human relations are even more complex than what the IAT can measure.

        As I wrote earlier, ultimately it’s behaviour. Even then, when the interaction goes slightly sideways, many are quick to ascribe the worst in others as the reason for it. I’ve yet to be provided proof that they can read minds.

  19. Erica Ramon says

    These are cultural challenges that will be with us until reasonable people on the left accept the fact that their prejudices FOR any group that superficially appears to be oppressed is indeed being oppressed by their very prejudices.

    The article says that by any standard measure, whites fare better than blacks in society. What’s not said is that Asians fare better than whites. In truth, any demographic group or sub-group does better in society when that group or sub-group applies social pressure towards two parent families.

    As a white person, I don’t buy into the claptrap about how I won the parent lottery. That’s B.S. and trying to make me feel guilty for my parents having the integrity and foresight to understand that 4 eyes on a group of teenagers was better than 2 eyes.

    Just because your culture or sub-culture doesn’t appreciate the responsibilities that come with raising a family doesn’t mean my culture is at fault.

    Therein lies the challenge of today. By creating multitudes of identities for the Left to intersect, you’ve essentially nullified the power of coming together as one nation with one common purpose. This is a trick played by the left to subvert the traditional institutions that have created the safe spaces these Leftists now want to claim as their own. Yet, in truth…these spaces belong to each of us. We built this country. We the People run this country and any group demonizing another group for oppressing anyone else (unless it’s obvious) needs to head to any number of foreign countries where true oppression is taking place.

    • Glitter Afresh says

      Hi, Erica — this is like the perfect example of white fragility.

      • Joe Bob says

        @glitter

        Well said, comrade. I could also smell the bourgeois in her first sentence and hence stopped reading, so as not to permit non-orthodox thoughts to enter my mind.

      • @Glitter
        So…. Bringing up the FACT that children with 2 parents in the household, on aggregate tend to do much better than single parent households is “white fragility”?

        How about you go and actually try and help the minority populations you supposedly care about. The one single thing that will turn their whole populations around is not having kids outside of marriage. Statistics are overwhelming on this. There is no valid refutation of this.

        Also, maybe you should explore the equally interesting concept of “White Savior Complex”. This is the dominate neurosis of the Left today.

      • ga gamba says

        And yours is like the perfect example of the Kafka trap. Have you always been evil or did you pay for it to read gender studies?

    • Do you realise that your last paragraph goes against everything else you’ve written? Or rather that before your last paragraph you were as sectarian and virtue-signalling as any radical leftist you’re lambasting?

    • But it’s taboo to bring attention to the crushing weight of data showing the correlation between single-parent upbringings and bad social outcomes. Even though this is not strictly a racial issue, as enduring pair bonds are collapsing among the white working class now as well, with similar dire consequences as it has for blacks.

      The neglect of this issue – no, the deliberate suppression of it – only demonstrates that people who style themselves social justice advocates today are not serious people. They have no use for tangible improvements to the lives of others brought about by utilitarian means. They’re thralls to dogma, cant, and the unrelenting and conspicuous demonstration of their own piety and virtue. At the least the Victorian Christians, who they so strongly resemble, dedicated some of their energies to tangible charity for the misfortunate. Today’s identarian champions concern themselves with the gender and race of superheroes rather than grapple with the dire consequences of children raised in fatherless homes.

  20. It seems “white fragility” can be used as a “Kafkatrap”, in that any objections anyone might have to such a characterization are seen as proof that it is correct.

    • James Lee says

      @dantobias,

      That is exactly what it is. And like other forms of social justice tactics, it is presented in a motte and bailey format.

      The bailey is where they get to discard any reasoned argument you make if you are white. When you point that out, they retreat to the motte, which is “white people don’t like being called racist.”

      The Identitarian left claims to love diversity and multiculturalism, but it is impossible to have a cohesive and peaceful multicultural society that instantiates such tactics.

  21. D Bruce says

    I dunno whenever I “confront” racism Colin Flaherty videos keep getting in the way.

  22. Glitter Afresh says

    I am sorry that you cannot see the forest for the trees. If you take a centemeter’s step back and look at some of the concepts that you’re coming out against, literal common sense tells us this is true — even people in the out-group internalize bias in favor of the in-group — a micro-aggression is usually nothing more than the subtle and continual reinforcement of the bias.

    If you claim there’s no value placed, in society, on youth, whiteness, thinness, ability, heterosexuality, wealth, white pronunciation, white decorum, Christianity, etc. — I’m going to laugh you back into your hole. If you claim that these have not been established as a sort of baseline normality and virtuous “good,” I’m also going to laugh you back into that hole.

    If you further insist that these biases do not manifest themselves in discrimination, I’m going to shit myself laughing. If you claim that micro-aggressions do not play a role in this — I don’t know what. My stomach muscles can’t handle it.

    White fragility is this, exactly — it’s not just white — but the fragility that any person, when confronted with the fact that they 1. benefit from privilege and 2. have a blind spot when it comes to the experience of others and 3. might be unable to fully grasp the psychological weight that the “other” has to deal with, therefore 4. Probably should not talk out of their ass on the matter or act like they have fully baptized themselves into purity.

    It’s not really science — it’s just “get over yourself.”

    • D Bruce says

      Glitter – I’m never going to be persuaded that the “privilege” I gain from being born into a successful society is something to be guilty for. I’m grateful for it and honour all of the people who contributed to it.

      • Glitter Afresh says

        I don’t think you should feel guilty. And I think there’s a difference between being born into a successful society vs. being privileged within that society — that’s two different spheres. But what type of philosophy have you chased down that would cause you to have to feel indignant or superior to a starving child in another country, or a struggling family in your own?

        All I ask in exchange for your privilege is for you to recognize it — same with me — as I am privileged. The proper reaction is gratitude — not guilt. Guilt assumes that you did something wrong. Gratitude assumes that you have something valuable, that other people don’t — and there’s a humility in it. Any truly grateful person would seek to alleviate the suffering of others, in my opinion. Or at least not walk around preening one’s feathers as if that’s all to the story.

        • ga gamba says

          All I ask in exchange for your privilege is for you to recognize it — same with me — as I am privileged.

          And who exactly are you to demand compliance to your thoughts and beliefs, your royal highness?

          Wouldn’t a truly humble person work on fixing herself rather than fixate on the perceived “preening” by others? Yet here you are, like a Victorian busybody, telling people how they ought to express gratitude and thus not spending your time alleviating the suffering of others. Go forth is minister the masses.

          It really is a cult.

          • James Lee says

            @ga gamba-

            Absolutely. It is essentially a fundamentalist religion, just like Bolshevism. Bertrand Russell met Lenin and other influential Communists in 1920, and despite being initially sympathetic to their cause, came to see them as religious fanatics.

            Russell on Lenin: “His strength comes, I imagine, from his honesty, courage, and unwavering faith — religious faith in the Marxian gospel, which takes the place of the Christian martyr’s hopes of Paradise…”

            Social Justice has become a major religion for elite Western whites. Fascinatingly, they have even adopted Christian elements (original sin of whiteness, confession of white privilege).

            Perhaps the most obvious tactical parallel between Social Justice and Communism is “false consciousness”. Accusing a person of being bourgeois completely dismissed that person, without the bother of having to actually argue with reason and evidence.

            The question is how much farther can this new religion spread. It appears to be taking over the Democratic party in the US, and it certainly has taken over the Labour party in the UK.

          • @ James Lee

            I’m astonished anyone can fail to see the religious nature of identarian progressivism. It’s surely no coincidence that it has taken root among the demographic least likely to be traditionally religious – educated, upper-middle-class whites. The movement offers a clear moral paradigm for those otherwise lacking one, while affording its adherents no end of opportunities to broadcast their own piety and virtue. Just as their great-grandparents made a public show of wearing their finest clothes to church and sitting at the front pew every Sunday, singing psalms, while doing their best to shame anyone in town who turned away from God’s good graces, identarians carry out modern analogues to their behaviour by policing language in social media and enthusiastically taking part in shaming transgressors into ostracization.

          • James Lee says

            @Rob

            Very well said. I wish someone with more time and talent than myself would write a book detailing the religious meta structure of social justice ideology. It has grown to a level where it merits that kind of analysis.

    • Glitter:
      If I move to China, the majority (over 90%) is going to be Hun Chinese. They are the dominate culture of that society so, in living there, I know that I would have to adapt to there way of life as much as is possible for me. This is the way of all societies everywhere. There are no exceptions to the rule. Dominate culture becomes dominate for a reason. I realize that the left are marking the end of all whites daily off their calendars but nonetheless, they are still the majority.

      If you can find a successful (or any) society that normalizes celebration of all minorities while demonizing the majority (other than pre-apartheid South Africa), normalizes homosexuals, transgendered, disabled (or any X category of new leftist victims) while demonizing heyerosexuals, the mentally stable, married people with families than please fill me in on this mythical utopia.

      Having a tolerant society is a laudable goal but it should come at the expense of the majority. And you’re biting the hand that feeds you. No society today (or ever) has or would tolerate the complete excesses of todays Left. As the left itself acknowledges, the West was built by MEN, (even though women played an amazing supporting role) who happened to largely be WHITE. These same categories also made room for others to join, but equality of opportunity is not enough, it seems that now the formerly oppressed are itching to become the oppressor. But not by any kind of superior dominance or intellect, instead they plan to try and legislate (with the white mans laws) their was to the top. Neat trick, if you can pull it off.

    • ccscientist says

      Yes it is true that dressing sharply, speaking clearly, being polite (white decorum–is there no black decorum?), and being honest (Christianity) DO help one succeed. And is there anything stopping any person at all from manifesting these attributes?

    • RadixLecti says

      FFS. I’m brown and living in a brown country, but I work with Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans. I too bought into this “everything is racist” nonsense until I found out about Hanlon’s Razor.

      If that doesn’t work for you, then just learn to stop worrying and love the bomb.

    • You’re omitting the privileges which outrank all others – affluence and education. One might wonder if that omission is deliberate. Because recognizing affluence and education as powerful privileges would make it impossible to sustain the fiction that a young lower-middle-class white man working at Staples has privilege over a tenured professors, the daughter of other educate professionals, who earns $100k a year. One might even speculate that the privilege stack is little more than a way for educated women who were schooled in a dogma that grants virtue to the oppressed and shame to the oppressor to blot out their affluence and privilege in order to cast themselves as virtuous victims. As a bonus, it also gives the white upper-middle-class license to hold the white working class in contempt, while dispensing with any guilt they might have over their affluence and privilege. All they have to do is recognize their white privilege (which really, costs them nothing), and they can ignore the enormous advantages they have over the despised white trash who make up most of the poor.

    • “they 1. benefit from privilege and 2. have a blind spot when it comes to the experience of others and 3. might be unable to fully grasp the psychological weight that the “other” has to deal with, therefore 4. Probably should not talk out of their ass on the matter or act like they have fully baptized themselves into purity.”

      Wow! You just described Ta-Sneezy Coates!

    • Paul Ellis says

      “but the fragility that any person, when confronted with the fact that they 1. benefit from privilege and 2. have a blind spot when it comes to the experience of others and 3. might be unable to fully grasp the psychological weight that the “other” has to deal with, therefore 4. Probably should not talk out of their ass on the matter or act like they have fully baptized themselves into purity.”

      – which pretty much describes the position of every member of the human race. And you presume to understand me, and what motivates me? A story concerning motes and planks comes to mind.

      I’m sick and tired of hearing about what people *are*, or think they are, or identify as. Let’s see what you can actually *do*. I know what I can do, and have done. I know what I need the people around me to be able to do. It is far more important than what they *are*.

      What can you actually do? And of what use is it?

    • Alistair says

      Is there any way this theory of “white fragility” can be measured, or falsified? How do you know if it’s effects are not insignificant in magnitude? Or, indeed, non-existent?

      “white fragility” is not falsifiable, nor science Why on earth should we take it seriously?

      And whilst we’re at it, let me point out that your list of desirable cultural characteristics commits the classic logical error (quite common in anthropologists, but much less so in evolutionary psychologists and biologists), that “white” culture somehow defined desirable (i.e. fitness generating) things, rather than “white” culture simply being well-adapted to generating desirable things.

      Politics is downstream of culture which is downstream of genetics and ecology. You’ve simply put the cart before the horse. I recommend more basic reading of biology and economics.

  23. Martin28 says

    I’ll bet my bottom dollar that Robin DiAngelo is a feminist. White feminists seem to be the main generators of such ideas, ala Peggy McIntosh and “white privilege.” This is just an observation, but I think that “third wave” feminism is the source of a good deal of the intellectual rot that is infecting our intellectual culture and institutes of higher learning. They are determined to bring down the western Patriarchy, and race is a powerful lever to do that. Divide and conquer—so they needed to divide males and particularly isolate white males. As a bonus for feminists, a preoccupation with race takes the focus off of feminism.

    • Glitter Afresh says

      The Western patriarchy should be brought down. What’s the problem with that?

      • Glitter;
        After the Patriarchy, then what? And what about non-western societies (basically the rest of the world other than Western Europe, Australia & Canada)? How is the new “non-patriarchal” feminized West going to deal with the extremely masculine, misogynistic, patriarchal culturals of the Middle East, Asia, (some) of Eastern Europe, Latin America and all of Africa?

        If the feminists succeed in overthrowing the West, as is their stated intention, with the tools and privileges afforded them by the West, (i.e. Institutions, the rule of law, equality before the law, property rights (intellectual and otherwise), freedom of speech and association, and many others) then how are you going to deal with societies that don’t care about women or minority rights what-so-ever?

        What good is bringing down the patriarchy in the very small part of the world called the West when a dominate culture from another part of the globe will just turn around and muzzle or more likely, kill you?

        What’s really really ironic, is that in our globalized society, where everyone knows what’s happening everywhere, other countries are whatching us and noting the toxic ideologies coming out of our universities. In return, countries like Japan and more recently Hungry are taking measures to squelch these in the university before the metastasize like we’re seeing here. Indeed Hungry just took measures to close down all gender studies in the university. A lot of us would call that authoritarian but I’m beginning to see the value of this. Ideally, in a free society, everything should be able to be taught and discussed, but Feminism, Gender Studies, Critical studies ect… have proven to sow extreme division, hate, intolerance and is basically planting the seeds of demise for the culture and society that allowed it to flourish.

        This is quote proves applicable:
        “When it comes time to hang the capitalists, they will vie with each other for the rope contract.” Vladimir Lenin

        Except, in this case, the taxpayers are subsidizing the very ideologies that want to tear up the constitution and destroy our very way of life.

      • Martin28 says

        Why Western patriarchy, Glitter? Why not every society on the face of the Earth? Because every society ever studied has been run by men—and that includes tribal societies that were extremely primitive, indicating that men have been in leadership positions for a very long time, perhaps forever. In fact the MOST patriarchal societies today are not Western. So, you must want the leadership of every society dismantled, including African, Middle Eastern, Asian, Pacific Islander, Native American, etc. Right?

        • @Martin28
          I think Gender and Race Studies should start incorporating Geo-Political and International Politics into their courses. This would have the benefit of injecting a healthy dose of reality into their Matriarchal world view.

          • The omission of any critique of non-Western cultures is a dead giveaway that this movement is lead by people who are either largely ignorant of human history, or deliberately ignore it in order to preach a narrow and destructive revolutionary ideology.

            The first group are almost childishly naive, believing humans are naturally good and egalitarian, and it’s only European colonial patriarchy, the snake in Eden, that’s responsible for the evils of the world. There’s some hope we can deflate their delusions through education and teaching a broader understanding of human history, where oppression and hierarchy are endemic to all societies, and it’s only through painful and gradual progress carried about the inheritors of the European Enlightenment that we’ve been able to mitigate the worst of human nature.

            The second group are bad actors, and need to be challenged openly about their ultimate agenda. For as much as the Brahmin left have proven themselves cowards only too eager to abandon all principle in exchange for burnishing their own superficial virtue, I don’t think most really want to see all our values and institutions overturned and replaced with a new paradigm.

      • Oliver says

        @Glitter Afresh

        “The Western patriarchy should be brought down. What’s the problem with that?”

        You are fully aware that one could write a book detailing all the problems with that sentence and the mindset that makes someone utter a sentence like this.

        One should instead write an essay about trolling techniques that we all should be aware of, one of which you’re haplessly employing.

        • Glitter Afresh says

          Hapless means “unlucky,” not “careless.” Rookie mistake.

          • Oliver says

            @Glitter

            English is a foreign language for me. I’ve come to expect to see you attack your opponent’s character instead of addressing their argument. Apparently, you would also much rather attack their vocabulary.

  24. ludlow says

    The idea of white fragility seems more like a schoolyard tactic (calling someone a wuss, wimp, chicken, etc. if they don’t comply) than a scientific term.

    • ga gamba says

      It’s about as sophisticated as “I’m rubber and you’re glue,” which, if memory serves me right, I last played on a schoolyard.

  25. Martin28 says

    The clever idea of “white fragility” is that it predicts the behavior that proves the theory for those who buy into the ideology. The objection proves the charge. If you object to charges of racism, then you a exhibiting “white fragility,” or racism denial. So you are not only a racist, but you are also a racism denier, which is worse. You are guilty either way and more guilty if you resist. This reminds me of the old drowning test for witches—the theory that only witches will survive. And then you are burned. There must be a names category for such theories, and leftist social justice thinking is plagued by them. Another one is the theory that only white people can be racists. Therefore the search for racists can only find white people, and that proves the theory. What is the name for such theories?

    • Caligula says

      A term sometimes used for such theories (i.e., If you admit to the accusation then you must be guilty, but if you do not then you are “in denial” and thus are not only guilty but are failing to recognize and admit to your guilt) is “Kafka Trap,” after the author’s most famous work, “The Trial.”

  26. Burlats de Montaigne says

    The problem is that ‘social science’ isn’t really a science. It is the polar opposite of science. It is the study of angels dancing on the head of a pin. It is a candle in the sunlight.

    • @Burlats de Montaigne
      Indeed, it has much in common with String Theory. Or studying multidimensions in physics, where we can never experience the other dimensions, they just remain theoretical. Neither “Social Justice” studies or String Theory is falsifiable.

  27. Philip Carl Salzman says

    Author Church says, “The scientific method is demanding and is not readily accessible to everyone. For a social scientist, it is critical to the integrity of one’s work. …the rigorous and methodological nature of scientific inquiry.”
    Gosh, that characterization of social science sounds very quaint to me. After postmodern epistemology, or nihilism if you prefer, most social scientists no longer believe in “facts,” only in “interpretations.” They say, and tell their students, that there is no such thing as “Truth,” but rather that each person and each culture has his or her or its own truth. Science has been rejected and replaced by a new “paradigm,” the postmodern paradigm.
    For years I tried to get my Department in an elite Ph.D. granting university to teach methods, but we never established a methods course.
    But most social sciences (and humanities, education, social work, and law) today do have rigorous criteria for success. But they are political, examining people and their works for their dedication to “social justice,” to overthrowing the oppressors and uplifting the oppressed, all defined by census categories of identity.

  28. It was western (white) nations that introduced the global notion of liberty and equal protection; slavery existed long before western nations were created, but the western nations were the ones to end the practice and police the slave trading routes over land and sea.
    It was whites who ended American slavery.
    It was whites who fought a war with racist, southern rednecks to ensure slavery ended.
    It was whites who created the US Constitution and nation.
    It was whites who ended segregation, another southern redneck tyranny.
    And if whites have implicit, yet also institutional bias, designed to ensure their supremacy, how is it that Asians and Jews tend to dominate economically and educationally? I guess they are so fragile that they couldn’t even keep power over historically hated groups.
    What rednecks of any color should focus on is education, hard work and entrepreneurship.

  29. Double Bind says

    DiAngelo coined a term to explain why some of the attendants at the mandatory workplace training events she facilitated sometimes rolled their eyes or otherwise indicated skepticism to her message. She needed a more academic way to say “don’t be such a big baby, take your medicine!”

    The term she came up with caught on and now for a reasonable speaking fee she will come to your organization and lead a workshop on it.

  30. Andrew_W says

    Regarding implicit bias, for hundreds of millions of years animals evolution has trained animals including us to assume that creatures and other things in our environment that have similar outward appearances to have other similar traits, if it looks like an apple, smells like an apple it probably tastes like an apple and can be consumed, if it looks like a lion, moves like a lion it probably acts like a lion and should be avoided.

    This evolutionary tool to categorize extends to the judgments we make of other people; if it looks like a young women or young man we make initial evaluations and act on those evaluations, if it looks like an old person we act on that evaluation, etc.

    So is it fair to say that we evaluate people not just on things like age, attire, build, hair style but also race, certainly, do we act differently towards people based on those characteristics? Certainly there is good evidence of bias based on hight so it’s seems likely that bias based on race also exists.

    However, while I think implicit bias does have an influence on how we treat others I think there’s a far larger unseen contributor towards racial disparities in the form of how we allow our perceptions of societies view of us to impact our own character and development, perhaps if you’re white you might think of yourself as better than other racial groups and this confidence might cause you to be more successful in your endeavors, but if your black and subconsciously buy into the stereotype that you’re a member of a lessor race, how do you think that’s going to influence your self confidence, your perceptions of your chances of succeeding in a mostly white country and ultimately the levels of success that you actually achieve.

    There’s an accumulating pile of data that shows that black children born in mostly black countries are more academically successful when they come to America than black American children, and that when such children move to Britain and other white countries they compete very well with their white class mates.

    So on balance I think that black self perceptions (both individually and as a group) are a far bigger contributor to relatively poor black academic success that white unconscious bias.

    • “There’s an accumulating pile of data that shows that black children born in mostly black countries are more academically successful when they come to America than black American children, and that when such children move to Britain and other white countries they compete very well with their white class mates.”

      There’s a fairly straightforward explanation for this: Immigrants are a self-selected group who tend to have social traits that correlate to success. People who pick up stakes and move to another country are more aspirational and energetic than those who stay behind. It’s not hard to see how those traits, passed on to their children (either genetically or through socialization), would contribute to higher success in education.

      • Alistair says

        Bingo. Immigrants have higher IQ’s and motivation than the source population.

        The higher the barrier to immigration, the higher the quality of immigrant who overcomes it. There are strong selection effects.

  31. dirk says

    I had never heard of Robin DiAngelo and her white fragility, but know about the book White Innocence, of Dutch Gloria Wekker. She often appears on Dutch TV and her philosophy is about the same as that of DiAngelo, so, I suspect she just copied her, not unusual with Dutch activists. What also struck me, that both professors are white or almost white, but with raven black curly or dreadlock hair, I wonder whether that also can be part of the philosophy, or extension message.

  32. This whole notion of White Fragility, Implicit bias ect… is all built around the notion that even after changing the laws to make discrimination illegal, Affirmative Action and the (literally) thousands of policies put in place to help POC since 1965 that it is still WHOLLY and 100% up to white people to make sure POC are ok and aren’t getting their feelings hurt.
    How is Robin DiAngelo any different than the benevolent slave holder who argued in the Anti-Bellum era that blacks could not make it on their own and needed the white man to survive? The whole thing reeks of paternalism. It basically says that, “whites are superior and are born in the highest caste so it’s up to us to make sure that POC are ok and that their feelings aren’t hurt. They can’t possibly make it in a white society on their own merit so WE (the benevolent superior whites of society) must make sure and police the language of everyone else.” That’s straight up aristocratic noblesse oblige’! I thought we threw that out with King George and the British flag! Stupid me!

    Erghhhh!!! If I were a POC this whole paternalistic crap would pi$$ me off to no end. First of all other than non discrimination and equal rights under the law society owes no one ANYTHING!!! Nothing! Rights are only given by the laws that us who live in society choose and agree to. It’s not perfect and we try and fix things as we go.
    What Whiteness studies perpetuate is that POC still need whites to survive. Condescending, paternalistic and racist!

  33. Also, if DiAngelo were sincere and not making money and being a parasite on the backs of black suffering than she would step down and let a POC takeover the antiracist lecture circuit. Who’s making 100X thousands of dollars doing these workshops and lectures?? Is it blacks or Robin DiAngelo & Tim Wise, who are as white as snow!!
    I may listen to a black person lecture me on oppression and it may even somewhat effect me, but I’m not going to listen to privelaged upper middle class white liberals lecture me on antiracism when they are the ones profiting of this whole sham.

  34. Martin J Kelly Jr says

    Terrific article. But it is diluted a bit by the hackneyed use of “the scientific method.” Given that there is no particular “scientific method,” but only a focus on proceeding without defying rationality and evidence. The Scientific Method is easily criticized by the jargon monsters the article analyzes.

  35. Martin28 says

    White fragility is an example of both begging the question and circular reasoning. The question that is begged is whether any particular white person is a racist or oppressor. The circular reasoning is as follows; White people are fragile because they object to being accused of racism. They object to being accused of racism because they are fragile.

    • Exactly. The fact that otherwise intelligent people fail to recognize the rhetorical dishonesty of these tactics makes me despair for humanity – or at least the quality of our education in social sciences and the humanities.

  36. ccscientist says

    When “racist” is the worst word in the world and can get you fired, is it any surprise that people resist being called racist?
    I live in a very diverse but well-off area. I have a mixed race couple next door, black across the street, Indian behind me, etc. Most of my closest friends are actually not white. BUT when I encounter young black men I am wary because many of them are angry and dangerous. All of them? No of course not, but enough to make one be careful. This is not racist, it is being in touch with reality.
    Why do income inequalities remain? Is it due to some concerted scheme by white people to retain their cozy position? Show me evidence. How do you explain Chinese and Japanese and Indian and Persian immigrants having higher incomes than whites if this conspiracy is so powerful? How do you explain traditionally conservative counties voting for Obama? It is simply Marxism seeking to explain all things as exploitation.
    I saw a recent study that blacks who attend church have a 57% higher probability of becoming middle class. There was an article by a young black writer who put on a coat and tie and went out and was stunned that people smiled at him and said hello and held the door open. huh. Not having a father at home is detrimental to kids of any race but hurts blacks more because so many are fatherless. Welfare rules did this.

  37. KevC says

    Nothing more than an intellectually veiled power grab. Militant victim mentality. Hypocrisy at its peak when you can work hard enough to reach the upper middle class but preach that this should not be expected of anyone else, and it’s not their fault: it’s the existence of white people’s fault.

    In the spirit of the American idea, i will proudly proclaim that these identity politics and regressive political correctness schemes are f#cking retarded.

  38. Fluffy Buffalo says

    To me, it looks like social justice ideology is a mishmash of incoherent, contradictory notions from sociology and philosophy (gender and race as social constructions, privilege, intersectionality etc.) forged over the flame of motivated reasoning into a big arsenal of rhethorical tricks that all serve to prove that It’s Okay When We Do It.

    So when someone of an ethnic minority is made fun of, they are the victim of Microaggressions that perpetuate Structural Racism. They should feel righteous indignation, Call Out their Oppressors and resist any attempt at Tone Policing, because Punching Up is brave and virtuous.

    However, when a white person is mocked and feels like they should protest, it’s just a symptom of their White Fragility. They need to Check Their Privilege that perpetuates this fragility, Shut Up And Listen, Know Their Lane, stop with their Toxic Whiteness and go back to being a good lapdog, err, Ally.

    So whenever someone uses any of these buzzwords unironically, my estimate of their opinion’s worth drops to 0. That may not always be fair, but it works.

    • Oliver says

      @Fluffy Buffalo

      “So when someone of an ethnic minority is made fun of, they are the victim of Microaggressions that perpetuate Structural Racism. They should feel righteous indignation, Call Out their Oppressors and resist any attempt at Tone Policing, because Punching Up is brave and virtuous”

      This paragraph could be easily re-written without using any of the capitalized buzzwords and it would still make sense. (If a rich white man is making fun of a poor Hispanic lady, shouldn’t she feel this way and react in such a way and be lauded by the society for being brave for standing up for herself?

      The next paragraph, however, is essentially impossible to re-write in such a way, or even explain to someone unfamiliar with philosophical movements which invented these terms.

  39. Chip says

    I don’t think complex social science is needed to explain that humans tend to see our status quo as the inevitable and natural order of things.

    There is no one alive who can remember a world in which white Europeans were not the dominant force in the world. A world dominated by Asians, or Arabic or Persian peoples seems odd to us, and a world in which white people are a tolerated minority makes many people uncomfortable.

    And why not? Being tolerated means being reliant on the whims and good will of others. It is a precarious existence, with danger at every corner.

    But rather than seeing white fragility as an accusation maybe it is more productive to see it as an opening, a way to broaden our understand of others who have been tolerated minorities for centuries.

  40. The existence of Korean race identitarianism, Japanese racial disdain for the Korean race, Han Chinese race indentitarianism and genetic studies related to it, suggest to me that the leftist obsession with a white vs “of color” model is not recognized by the vast majority of those leftists label “of color,” and further than “Asian” as a race is misunderstood, at least politically if not genetically by the ideologues of “critical race theory.” The left fails to account for REAL data (reality) that presents complexities beyond their abstract models. Call it leftist fragility.

  41. Martin28 says

    The left has been looking for evidence of white racism—and ONLY white racism—for 40 years. They have gone so far as to develop a theory that only white people can be racists. No one else can be a racist. Therefore, to be a card-carrying progressive it has come to the point where you can’t acknowledge the possibility of racism that is other than white racism. So, surprise, surprise, they have found evidence of white racism, and only white racism. At the same time, they have expanded the definition of racism to include actions that weren’t even intended or conscious. The expansion of definition makes white racism, which is the only kind that can be sought, appear to be expanding. If you only look for one thing, and it is forbidden to find anything else, that is the one thing that certainly will be found. This is an example of circular reasoning. Only white people can be racists, and therefore you will only find white racists. But if you find only white racists, only white people can be racists!
    In my own mind, I call the search for white racism and bigotry The Project. It has been going on for 40-plus years, and we see the results.

  42. The problem with “white fragility” is that there are no arguments that can change the mind of someone who believes it. If you agree, you agree, if you disagree, it’s because you suffer from white fragility, which simply proves how strong “white fragility” is.

    It’s a cynical way to minimize white voices in racial discussions, and it’s gross.

    • Martin28 says

      I think leftist social justice types have forbidden themselves to consider any other arguments. One of the premises that they themselves cannot question is that white people are racists. And so they won’t accept anybody else questioning that premise either. The concept of “white fragility” comes out of that mindset.
      The entire leftist social justice project is built on circular reasoning. If you don’t embrace the same tail-chasing reasoning, then you are at the least morally suspect. That goes for anybody who points out the obvious logical fallacy of white fragility. If you persist, then you are anti-social-justice and therefore the enemy. It is a form of collective insanity, and I think we need to start treating it as such.

    • Alistair says

      The technical term for this behaviour in argument is “poisoning the well”….

      Yeah, it’s gross. But these people are out to win power, not arguments.

  43. Anthony Young says

    Our academics seem to have become hopelessly intellectually corrupt to the point of irrationality.
    A couple of years ago a minor statistic was published indicating that Asian enrolments in private schools were disproportionately high compared to their percentage of the population (in Australia). The rational interpretation of this would be that Asian parents in general value a high quality education.
    Instead it was met by an op-ed piece by a sociology academic decrying the level of racism amongst white parents who had obviously withdrawn their children from private schools – in such numbers as to create this statistically significant skewing – so their children wouldn’t be exposed to so many asians.
    Given that Australia’s public schools are as ethnically diverse as most western nations and white kids are consequently much more likely to be exposed to children unlike themselves there, I have trouble identifying the destination of all this supposed white-flight. (Home schooling is extremely uncommon in Australia.)
    I tell this story despite how poorly it reflects on the quality of Australian academia.

  44. Gordon Smith says

    A quote from “The Gulag Archipelago “ by Solzhenitsyn from the newspaper “Red Terror” in 1918.
    “We are not fighting against single individuals. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. It is not necessary during the interrogation to look for evidence proving that the accused opposed the Soviets by words or actions. The first question that you should ask him is what class does he belong to, what is his origin, his education and his profession. These are the questions that will determine the fate of the accused.”

  45. Alistair says

    Yup. The only mistake the author makes is to assume D’Angelo and company are simply mistaken seekers-after-truth who wish only honest discourse and will respond in charity to critical evidence.

    Fat chance. The whole “white fragility” (and a lot of the racism industry) stuff is all about power, poisoning the well, and shouting down the opposition.

    • I don’t agree. Working in the antiracism industry is high status, good money, good work/life balance and generally in comfortable surroundings. D’Angelo is a good parasitic Soviet nomenklatura, not a member of the campus Red Guard.

      Remember, Marxism is scientific socialism, and people who reject Marxism are against True Science and exhibiting false consciousness to protect their wicked Kulak privilege.

      • dirk says

        In which century are you living KD? Even in Russia, young people have only the slightest remembrance of what Sovjet was or means! They go for the good life, Western style, though, not at the same crazy level as is common in Europe and US.

        • 19th Century, fin de siecle. Back when the world still made sense.

          • dirk says

            OK then, also my favourite time, the time of Tolstoy, Gogol and Turgenyev, I,m dreaming backwards already.

        • Indie Wifey says

          Chasing cliches and/or ideals, depending on what exactly is being chased, how it’s been interpreted, and how either side construes the source and/or the resulting assimilation….
          my German grandfather was as equally enamored by “the waltons” as he was “Denver Clan” aka “dynasty”
          the American-ism enchanted, regardless of the details

  46. Aleph says

    ‘White fragility’ is nothing more to racist bullying than what ‘mansplaning’ is to sexist bullying. it’s just a way to avoid what is said by reduction at phenotype as a disqualificating tactic

    It’s as outrageous as if every claim by black people were dismissed as ‘black aggressivity’ instead of being properly addressed.

  47. Thanks, most interesting article, doing some necessary debunking.
    As a member of a white minority in a black country, the notion of white fragility is rather laughable, though it is sometimes referenced here by shock jocks. Here the actual problem is black fragility, which precludes any frank discussion of national problems (and we have many) because one has to tippy-toe round a host of unmentionables, all based on the deep trauma suffered by the majority population. The latter is, of course, partly true but it makes for honest debate and solution-finding really hard because the basic assumptions, though flawed, cannot be discussed.

  48. Indie Wifey says

    One source of fragility that fostered this acceptance of virtue posturing via self loathing, is the ez appeasement parenting of the last few decades. coddled and worshipped children, who ruled households and lived as wedges between partnered parents (or who lived, sidelined, by entitled singles) are now the adults/parents. The frailty borne of non meritorious worship + absentee parenting is the ego’s recognition of the invalidity of both sides of this style of raising offspring ; the culture of white privilege attack feeds on the void left as adulthood set in. What was once faith based self flagellation is now the quest for leftist Grace, now that progressivism has reached cult levels of acceptance, that of unequivocal believe and assimilation (or at least shows thereof) .

  49. Emmet says

    social science … unschooled in the data … examine the data to arrive at systematic results
    Lol. Social science and data don’t mix. Because the “science” in question, isn’t science at all.

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