Matt Taibbi on Robin DiAngelo’s ‘Nice Racism’

Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragilityhas a new book out called Nice Racism.  Here’s what Matt Taibbi had to say about it:

Nice Racism’s central message is that it’s necessary to stop white people from seeing themselves as distinct people.

“Insisting that every white person is different from every other white person,” DiAngelo writes, “enables us to distance ourselves from the actions of other white people.”

She doesn’t, or maybe she does, see where this logically leads.

If you tell people to abandon their individual identities and think of themselves as a group, they sooner or later will start to behave as a group.

Short of selling anthrax spores or encouraging people to start exploring sexual feelings toward nine-year-olds, is there a worse idea than suggesting—demanding—that people get in touch with their white identity?

Of course there’s nothing wrong with attending a workshop to help you to better understand your unconscious prejudices, or to become more culturally sensitive about people of other races and ethnicities.  

The problem is when we as a society operate on the premises that (1) being racist is a firing offense and (2) everyone is racist until proven otherwise.

Taibbi wrote:

Her books are chock full of overt threats, using the language of the inquisitor.

When she goes through the list of arguments people make in favor of the arguments that they can or should exist beyond race, she concludes ominously, “None of these factors provides immunity.”

The idea that “continually” availing oneself of DiAngeloid antiracist training is a requirement to remain above suspicion is an explicit warning.

No other strategy is permissible; as she puts it, “Niceness is not antiracism.”


Our Endless Dinner With Robin DiAngelo by Matt Taibbi for TK News.

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2 Responses to “Matt Taibbi on Robin DiAngelo’s ‘Nice Racism’”

  1. Fred (Au Natural) Says:

    Robin DiAngelo sounds like quite a self promoter.

    Group identity is at the core of racism, which is a subset of otherism. Until we identify as humans first and above all else, racism is both powerful and inevitable.


  2. Alex Page Says:

    No fan of Di Angelo so can’t comment much on her work or Taibbi’s reading of it, but as for the ‘idea [of] “continually” availing oneself of DiAngeloid antiracist training’ – DiAngelo does run corporate anti-racism sessions. That specific corporate context – and the obvious economic incentive that gives her to keep people anxiously looking for a salvation which can’t come, only through individual reflection instead of collective action – inevitably shapes her perspective. Like, as much as white people can be uncomfortable thinking about race – her ‘White Fragility’ – *of course* people (including black people who might not want to confront their colleagues or manager publicly!) are awkward being asked to discuss social issues *with their boss in the room*.


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