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June 08, 2020

Comments

lj, I took a few quizzes, I got a lot right. I miss a lot of the current culture references, but I'm not good at white current culture references.

Interesting stuff.

It's interesting, I have 30 years of experience living side by side with Japanese and I still am pretty tentative with my conclusions about why they do or don't do things, and what makes them tick. Married from 25 years to a Japanese woman and I am still not sure about a lot of things. My knowledge of African American culture is several magnitudes smaller than that. I played jazz in uni, so probably had more contact than most and I still consider it to be minimal. So I wonder how being exposed to lots of diversity could possibly get anyone over the hump if they don't actually have experience with African Americans.

lj,

I have to confess. I posted a link above before viewing the DiAngelo talk. My bad. I have undergone maoist rectification and sat down and watched it last night. I will come as no surprise to folks here that I found it to be very good. The one annoying aspect, to me, was her saying “right?” after every third or fourth sentence….a minor elocution tick.

At the beginning, I thought, “Oh, boy, here we go” a feminist Thomas Frank does a “Listen Liberal” on racism before an audience of grok liberals. If you are from Seattle, you will know the lingo about “good schools” and “good neighborhoods”…classic white defensive mechanisms that strike home to me. Those are emblematic, used by both white liberals and white conservatives. So, I’m really not understanding the anger and defensiveness of liberals such as Pollo and byomtov. If you take the time to listen, you may start to realize the extent and pervasiveness of white racism. I really don’t see anything to get huffy about here. Smug condescension? I, for one, don’t buy it. For example, maybe somebody here can take these folks to task for weaponizing the term “systemic racism”. Go ahead. Be my guest.

As a member of the wrs club in good standing, I agree “it’s complicated”. But beware, if WE (you know, the WE who ended racism by passing the 13th Amendment, and the WE who allowed Jackie Robinson to play major league baseball) don’t get our act together on the pernicious extent of white racism in our society, we may prove Clarence Thomas right.

You don’t really want that, do you?

PS: The last 20 minutes of the presentation were the best part.

This pretty much sums it up for me. Get on board. We have work to do.

Thanks.

I have undergone maoist rectification

It really should be 'self criticism' (jiantao in Chinese, hansei in Japanese). It's up to you to keep the system alive...

Marty, it would be good if you could share those quizzes with us.

The one annoying aspect, to me, was her saying “right?” after every third or fourth sentence….a minor elocution tick.

An annoying elocution tick for me is millennials peppering their sentences with the word, "like." When I was a kid, that was Valley Girl talk. Who knew it would sweep the country.

and no. a trip to Costa Rica. multiracial nieces and nephews. these are not sustained study. struggle and focus.

It seems to me that this really does reflect poorly on Dr DiAngelo. She's right, of course, that a trip to Costa Rica isn't going to give you serious insights (although it might inspire you to learn more).

But interracial nieces and nephews? I'd say that this damn well could give you a close up view of race relations. I'd say that could give you at least as much insight as DiAngelo has. Depending, of course, on how close you are to that part of your family.

Being in an interracial family myself, I'd say it might even give you a better perspective than she has. Just for one, in my experience little kids will give a more unfiltered view to those they know and trust than adults who have learned caution. No matter how eager for the "real story" the researcher is.

I read the transcript and for once didn’t agree with bobbyp but am closer to Bernard.

I found it to be in large part about basic social etiquette in the form of a Wokist sermon asking a congregation of the Wokist church if they are really truly saved or only think they are. It is probably the kind of talk you would expect to see funded by the HR department at some large corporation. The concept of “ white fragility” is a specific example of something normal with humans — if you accuse people ( rightly or wrongly) of doing something bad or of being something bad or saying something bad, very very often they will feel humiliated and become defensive. It is in some ways a sign of progress that white people react that way when someone says they did something racist. Go to the comments section at Dreher’s blog and you will find a few white nationalists who come pretty close to embracing the label of racist. They are mad it is considered a bad thing, which is not at all what DiAngelo is talking about.

DiAngelo gives some examples of white people saying racist things unwittingly, because that seems to be what the talk is about. There was the teacher who imitated a black woman’s accent and there was DiAngelo herself, who probably thought she was engaged in edgy humor back in the early 90’s when she made a joke about some white people being scared of a black woman’s hair style. That was cringe inducing. And my own reaction to the story is an example of “ white fragility”, because while I don’t think I would ever been stupid enough to do that particular thing, I did inadvertently offend a person of Sri Lankan background once ( back around when DiAngelo was making offensive hair jokes) and feel cringey about it 20 years later when I think about it. But the thing is, it is not different from a handful of other times when I have said something really stupid that hurt someone when I didn’t intend to hurt them. If I were called out in public as a bad person, I woulld have felt defensive and humiliated. I automatically cringe when I read or hear about some white person unconsciously saying something racist, but I also feel something similar when someone unwittingly does something Idiotic or stupid or insensitive. This is “ human” fragility.

White people should be taught not to be stupid and say racist things and apparently some still need to be told what not to say. I needed to be told not to ask an American where she was from originally. What a moron I was. But if all of us middle class white people learn not to shove our feet down our throats that isn’t going to solve the problem of structural racism. It will make the world a better place if people are more sensitive, but beyond that I didn’t find DiAngelo’s talk had much to offer. GftNC and MkT were on the verge of having an argument about policy. Bobbyp linked to a Loomis piece and Loomis mentioned paying janitors better. And we need a group of people who can deal with violent crime without being violent criminals themselves.

I don’t really think DiAngelo’s talk contributes much towards solving structural racism. It was more like a religious talk about self improvement, as somebody said. Yeah, you go to church regularly, but have you truly repented and if so, there is still the ongoing process of sanctification. Maybe I am wrong. If these kinds of talks lead to people fighting for policies that help eliminate poverty and police brutality, then I am wrong.

wk, I Iet that go because well how do you explain that? The racial diversity of my in laws, thus nieces and nephews includes black, Puerto Rican, and Mexican. Two of my grandkids have a father who is Puerto Rican and they are pretty culturally Puerto Rican.

In my family a culturally mixed household is more the norm. But I will say that most of those kids live a different life than the black people i knew growing up. They live in mixed neighborhoods, they are more comfortable around white people than the kids I grew up with, but they do experience bias from both white and minority people at times.

“ GftNC and MkT were on the verge of having an argument about policy. Bobbyp linked to a Loomis piece and Loomis mentioned paying janitors better. And we need a group of people who can deal with violent crime without being violent criminals themselves.”

I wasn’t clear. I meant that policy changes and arguments about policy are what is needed to deal with structural racism.

Understood, Marty. I just sometimes find the self-righteous, whether motivated by religion or ideology, particularly irritating.

donald,

I don't disagree entirely with your points, but what offputs me in this discussion is the incessant critique of her tone and not the substance of what she said. So I guess whenever I interact with a conservative in future political arguments, a legitimate defense is to immediately attack their tone, because I guess that is all that matters.

Was DiAngelo's talk just so much rah-rah for a bunch of woke Seattle libs? Time will tell. But we (white folks) need to acknowledge the racism in our society and in ourselves.

It's not much to ask, really.

In case DiAngelo drops by and reads this, she will probably notice that I called myself a moron rather than a racist and use this in future talks, so let me spell that out, I made the moronic racist assumption ( subconsciously) that someone of Asian heritage that had grown up in the South was an immigrant. That had been my experience growing up. If I had thought about it Imwould have realized that making that assumption was stupid and expressing it out loud would be offensive to someone who in fact was born in this country.

Notice all the defensive navel gazing in the preceding paragraph. I think it is good for people to not be assholes, but when I found my unconscious racist assumption exposed to the light, it would not necessarily have had any impact whatsoever on my policy views. I bet the white libertarians and conservatives in this thread are every bit as sensitive in their day to day life as the white lefties, but that leaves the policy disagreements right where they were.

Dusting off and restoring structural racism in Texas:

https://www.balloon-juice.com/2020/06/12/late-night-horrorshow-open-thread-the-president-went-to-dallas/

we (white folks) need to acknowledge the racism in our society and in ourselves.

It's not much to ask, really.

The reason DiAngelo's (and others') tone matters is that the way they present their views can, and does, make that acknowledgment less likely. Maybe it shouldn't, but it does.

Bobbyp,

So, I’m really not understanding the anger and defensiveness of liberals such as Pollo and byomtov.

I think describing my response as "defensiveness," or "fragility," as DiAngelo might call, it illustrates the problem.

I am being told by her that I am a racist, and that what I think about it, or any response I might make in my defense, doesn't matter, or is just wrong, because she has "devoted years of sustained study, struggle and focus on this topic,” and my “opinions are necessarily very limited and no. a trip to Costa Rica. multiracial nieces and nephews. these are not sustained study." I’m expected to accept her verdict, and any disagreement is taken as confrimation of her idea. No. I don’t like that.

OK. She knows a lot about how people deal with race. That doesn't mean she knows a lot about how I or any other individual deals with it.

And what's that condescension about multiracial nieces and nephews? If you have multiracial nieces and nephews that means a sibling married a black person, and it is entirely possible that you have spent a fair amount of time in family-level conversation with members of that spouse’s family. Equating that to a vacation in Costa Rica is insulting. Hey, I've taken vacations in Africa, which I suppose trumps Costa Rica, but wouldn't claim that gave me any insight into African-American life. Who would? But conversation with African-Americans does give insight, not that I have many such conversations. I suspect I'd learn more from that than from DiAngelo.

And I'm going to quibble again about the use of the term "racist." as it's applied to individuals. First, it's counterproductive. However she wants to define it, lots of people, myself included, read it more strongly. So if you want me, and others, to be aware of some of our stupid, negative, behaviors and attitudes then don't start with name-calling, even if you oh-so magnanimously include yourself in the category.

On top of all that, as I’ve made clear, some of what she uses as examples seem wrong.

Does that help?

I meant that policy changes and arguments about policy are what is needed to deal with structural racism.

Of course this is true. But before people from different (and often already privileged and empowered) groups can see the need for policy changes, they have to see that they are part of the problem which necessitates the policy changes. And I think DiAngelo speaks to one subset of white people, in Donald's witty words the Wokist church. I guess some of us are members of that church, from our acceptance of her basic concept. And she makes it clear, as lj illustrates, that she is talking to "white progressives". So maybe white progressives have to see the light, and attain critical mass, before change becomes overpowering enough that it even reaches white racists, of the lesser toxic type. Or at least whites who would never call themselves progressives, although they would dissociate themselves from open white supremacists.


So maybe white progressives have to see the light, and attain critical mass, before change becomes overpowering enough that it even reaches white racists, of the lesser toxic type.

Sorry, posted before I meant to add this: from reactions here, it looks like there's still a long way to go.

lj: I think this conversation has illustrated that when people watch a talk, as opposed to reading an article (because I'm guessing many here, like me, did not read the whole transcript) it's easy to react to things that push one's buttons and not hear certain parts that would neutralise that reaction, e.g. her insistence that she's talking about a system, not individuals, and that the system achieves its result by means of (often very early) socialisation.

The one thing that I keep coming back to, between the talk and the discussion of the talk, is how much the policing of DiAngelo's tone and the worries about it being counterproductive - both of which I can understand - also strike me as examples of white fragility. Or perhaps male fragility. Those two seem to be close cousins.

I think a lot of people - especially older males, but older females as well - have a really hard time with middle aged female academics who do not couch their expertise in self deprication. Read any analysis of Warren's campaign and you will see this subtext writ large in people's reactions, not to her content or qualifications, but to her tone.

And I get the reaction to tone. I interact with a lot of very left, very activism oriented women of color, many of whom I met in grad school. There's one in particular that I have been tempted to mute since FB first gave us that functionality because her tone dial is set on eleven all the time. I don't mute her, though, because what she says is often instructive, even though it is offensive and annoying.

It's been instructive for me to go back through those conversations and reflect on whether I disagree with her substantively or tactically, or if I am using my annoyance as an excuse to find fault with her arguments (which is, after all, one of the things that our neurology is very good at).

In the US there's an almost endless list of policies and policy changes that would benefit all low-income people including minorities. But many of those policies and changes can't be agreed on because some people see them as benefits while others see them of little benefit or outright harm. And the ones that can be agreed on won't be made if we have to wait until racism is almost non-existent.

"I suspect I'd learn more from that than from DiAngelo."

That's where you and I appear to part ways, Byomtov. Just because you (not you in particular, the great white "you") "talk" to or "know" a black person does not automatically mean you listened, does not guarantee you learned anything, and does not necessarily imply that they told you anything of great importance wrt race relations (she covered this, too). So I would opine that such assertions may well be presumptuous, and dare I say it, condescending.

As for the condescension about nieces and nephews, I remember those days when, "Well, I have black friends" was the conversation stopper employed for the same purpose. I see similarities. Does that make me condescending?

I had a great black friend back in the day. He was a college professor. We met at the bar 3 times a week for after work drinks. We spent innumerable hours together playing poker (he bluffed too often), we played a good deal of golf at the local crappy course...but we never had any deep personal talks about race, and he certainly never brought it up. So just how much did I learn about race relations in our country from that experience? In retrospect, I see a vast unspoken chasm of experience not shared.

As for DiAngelo, it could just be me, because I try to understand at least some of the time, that it is not all about me, so I feel she imparted some valuable concepts.

As for the example(s), when she asserted the real story about Robinson was that some white people decided it was time for a black major league ball player, to me that is an insight.

Thanks for your reply.

But before people from different (and often already privileged and empowered) groups can see the need for policy changes, they have to see that they are part of the problem which necessitates the policy changes.

I'm not so sure about that. I think they can well be in denial about being part of the problem (if they are), and still see the need for policy changes.

nous, you may be able to look past irritating tone to benefit from the substance of what someone is saying. And you have my admiration for that. But, I think you will find that the vast majority of the population is not. And if you are trying to persuade people of the need to do something, you need to be aware of that and act accordingly.

Wow, so who here do you think is reacting to her out of their misogynistic reaction to female academics? So if a 35 year old guy wrote a book called White Fragility and gave that talk, word for word, someone would have agreed with it more?

I find that a way to try to deflect disagreement by making it some emotional or mental weakness to disagree. White, Male fragility seems a good way to make any criticism invalid and disappear any conflicting ideas so the merits of them dont have to be considered.

But I have not done an in depth multiyear graduate level study of the impacts of today's society on older males so you could be right

And some people say we need a sarcasm font!

But I have not done an in depth multiyear graduate level study of the impacts of today's society on older males so you could be right

Your honesty is refreshing, Marty. Well done.

And if you are trying to persuade people of the need to do something, you need to be aware of that and act accordingly.

And all too many people use this excuse to avoid being persuaded of just about anything their "gut" disagrees with. So my take is this, If I can find some excuse to discount your tone, I am justified in discounting your argument, correct?

If nothing else, this post sure as hell got us talking. This thread belongs in the Obsidian Wings Hall of Fame.

It is not about you, it is about the system.

Yeah.

That's where you and I appear to part ways, Byomtov. Just because you (not you in particular, the great white "you") "talk" to or "know" a black person does not automatically mean you listened, does not guarantee you learned anything, and does not necessarily imply that they told you anything of great importance wrt race relations (she covered this, too). So I would opine that such assertions may well be presumptuous, and dare I say it, condescending.

Sure, bobby. It doesn't have to happen. I've had lots of superficial conversations, including some with black people. But I've also had a handful where I learned something. I'm not saying I'm an expert because of it, just that I learned a thing or two.

As for the nieces and nephews business, well, I said it was possible, not automatic. What I oblect to is DiAngelo's assertion that it's impossible. That if you say something like, "My brother-in-law is black, and we are fairly close, and I have talked about race with him and his family members from time to time," she will discount the possibility that you learned anything. Instead you should buy her book.

What I oblect to is DiAngelo's assertion that it's impossible.

Perhaps. I would say "improbable", and that concentrated study, self reflection, and engaging with folks who study this deeply is also quite valuable, and not to be dismissed merely because one objects to their "tone". Neither of us has been discussing race with fellow white folks for a living for decades. She has. I simply cannot dismiss the insights she had derived from this experience out of hand.

And lj has given me a mission, so here.

;)

I'm generally in agreement with the idea that People Like Me could learn more from conversations with actual black people, than from DiAngelo's book.

I also agree that the kind of candid conversation that would really get into something substantive can be hard to have, especially with people you don't know very well, and with whom you don't already have a solid basis of trust.

But right now, there are tens of thousands of black people telling us that daily life with the rest of us is causing them a lot of pain. They are going to some extraordinary lengths to bring this to our attention.

Maybe we should believe them.

We can all have whatever opinion we like about our own thoughts and intentions.

The thing we do not get to do is tell other people what their experience is.

The thing that DiAngelo does that everyone reacts to - telling them that they don't really understand their own experience, what they *think* they are thinking and experiencing is not *really* what they are thing or experiencing - it's enraging, in't it?

Tens of thousands of black people are telling the rest of us, loudly, in the face of serious and sometimes brutal opposition, that they are in profound pain, to the point of despair, and it's largely because of how we all relate to each other.

They're telling us this. Again.

Maybe we should believe them.

If nothing else, this post sure as hell got us talking. This thread belongs in the Obsidian Wings Hall of Fame.

Completely agree.

They're telling us this. Again.

Maybe we should believe them.

Yup.

DiAngelo would not say that you have not learned anything, byomtov. She would say that what you have learned is not an inoculation against racism, it's just a deeper understanding of the nature of racism.

You can be anti-racist, which is good, even if being anti-racist does not keep you from being affected by internalized racism.

I’m not sure why I was called out as “angry and defensive" in a thread where I was only lurking, but I guess I’ll respond.

I wasn’t particularly irritated with DiAngelo other than the Jackie Robinson thing. As previously pointed out, DiAngelo did not reveal any hidden truths about racism keeping back players out of the major leagues. This has been acknowledged for as long as I can remember. I think Negro League players and managers were being inducted in Cooperstown as far back as the early 70s, so clearly they were good enough and the only explanation that I've ever heard is that racism kept them out of MLB. That failed vignette does not invalidate her points, but it does cause me to think that like most folks, she sees what she wants to see sometimes. The reason that it stands out is this wasn’t a casual after-dinner conversation over drinks among friends. This was part of a professional presentation that was slated for wider release.

As for the substance, perhaps being the product of a small southern town has something to do with it, but I’ve always assumed that I was raised in an essentially racist society and you don’t go through that without some of it rubbing off on you. I’ve previously acknowledged that I think we’re hard wired for tribalism. I don’t think that being “nice” to black folks or volunteering my legal time absolves me of continuing responsibility in responding to pervasive racism. All that is to say I’m not particularly triggered by being called a racist in this context.

Where I part ways with her is the notion that I’m somehow incapable of sufficiently overcoming this or that I get no voice (or a greatly diminished voice) in working through issues of structural racism. Not only am I pretty certain that I’m capable of engaging on these issues based on my pro bono work in a poor AA community, my experience in conflict resolution tells me that if your goal is real change, you won’t get buy in from enough white folks if they don’t get a seat at the table.

So there you have it; I’m not angry or defensive. I simply disagree with her on the path forward.

I'm generally in agreement with the idea that People Like Me could learn more from conversations with actual black people, than from DiAngelo's book.

I would co-sign this as well.

DiAngelo would not say that you have not learned anything, byomtov. She would say that what you have learned is not an inoculation against racism, it's just a deeper understanding of the nature of racism.

You can be anti-racist, which is good, even if being anti-racist does not keep you from being affected by internalized racism.

I do not claim to be inoculated against racism. I think a deeper understanding of the nature of racism makes one less stupid, to use Donald's term, about one's own behavior and that of others.

Does DiAngelo think that she can inoculate people? I doubt it. So all we can do is improve.


Maybe we should believe them.

Yes.

my take is this, If I can find some excuse to discount your tone, I am justified in discounting your argument, correct?

Just out of curiosity, are you deliberately being silly here?

It doesn't matter whether your audience is justified in discounting your arguments because of your tone. If your goal is to persuade them (rather than just to score debate points), you need to take their predictable reaction to your tone into account.

"sustained study" makes it sound like i'm supposed to be doing anthropology. which feels condescending.

Nous,

I think a lot of people - especially older males, but older females as well - have a really hard time with middle aged female academics who do not couch their expertise in self deprication. Read any analysis of Warren's campaign and you will see this subtext writ large in people's reactions, not to her content or qualifications, but to her tone.

Since I was, and remain, a fan of Warren, I don't think that analysis holds in my case.

I've not placed much of my own thoughts, that is going to be in a post tentatively titled 'who (I think) I am. I think'. On reflection, I shouldn't have put anything in. I also should have, again on reflection, prepared a transcript, so people could have taken it in in that way. (And I do realize that quoting the transcript is similar to what I complain that CharlesWT does, which is to post a link and a paragraph and not explain why.)

I should also confess that when I made the OP, if it isn't obvious, I didn't really have an idea of what I was doing. Still not quite sure. But will talk more about that when I talk about me.

Of course, everything carries information, so even if I were silent the whole time, I'd be conveying something. the problem is you wouldn't know if it was me waiting for someone to get out of line or me applauding or what.

Anyway, keeping this open for a while at least a few days longer.

Since I was, and remain, a fan of Warren, I don't think that analysis holds in my case.

In general I think your responses to DiAngelo were substantive. Not all responses to tone are disingenuous. As I said, I find myself responding this way at times as well.

I worked for many years in call centers. It's hard not to react to a perceived tone of challenge (even if it is not always easy to judge tone).

It's especially hard for both when there is a perceived threat to ones self-identity.

Just out of curiosity, are you deliberately being silly here?

No. You discount her tone in lieu of discounting her arguments. So, who is the one being silly? You may not find her persuasive, but given the sales of her books and books like hers, I'd think you might wish to give that a second look.

I'm generally in agreement with the idea that People Like Me could learn more from conversations with actual black people, than from DiAngelo's book.

All well and good. But we live in a hugely segregated society with built in racial mores that act to inhibit having those kinds of conversations. So, whattaya' gonna' do?

I may have missed it, but I have yet to see anybody here state, "I'm not a big fan of her approach, but by golly, what she says has weight."

Again....not a big ask. IMHO

I’m not sure why I was called out as “angry and defensive" in a thread where I was only lurking, but I guess I’ll respond.

Yes, I was referring to the other thread where you came out swinging against racial justice warriors who "weaponized" the R word. My initial reaction was hugely negative as this is a common conservative trope, you know, "liberals are the real racists" or "liberals are the real fascists". Your further explanations dulled my anger. Interestingly, you went on later to condemn those well meaning (Libruls?) who were satisfied with "another commission" masking as reform. In this, you are in agreement with folks of the more leftier persuasion. So---good on you.

As to Robinson: You do not see a difference between "he broke the racial barrier in MLB" vs. "Some white people decided the time had come to break the color line"? I do.

Thank you.

Maybe we should believe them.

Yup.

“ I think a lot of people - especially older males, but older females as well - have a really hard time with middle aged female academics who do not couch their expertise in self deprication”

I read it and would be just as annoyed if it had been some professional male antiracist. This is like being told I disliked Hilary because she is a woman when I dislike Joe even more. ( And yes, he is far preferable to Trump.)

There is a certain type of leftism that sets my teeth on edge, where much of the emphasis seems to be about individual moral virtue rather than policy. I get outraged all the time, but it is always about policy ( usually some horrific one). This type of leftism comes across as a substitute religion to me.

For me it would be vastly more interesting to hear what people mean when they want to abolish the police. Some mean it literally. I know this means they want to put more money into other things, which is fine, but I am still very unclear on how violent crime is dealt with. But the whole thing is very new to me. I have read very little about it.

Anyway, it is possible DiAngelo’s talks will lead more people to support better policies, whatever those might be, in which case my own feelings about her talk don’t matter. I am doubtful about that, but could be wrong.

You may not find her persuasive, but given the sales of her books and books like hers, I'd think you might wish to give that a second look.

I'd start with looking at who is buying her books. I'd bet that it isn't the folks that need to be persuaded. "Preaching to the choir" -- rarely expands the congregation.

I may have missed it, but I have yet to see anybody here state, "I'm not a big fan of her approach, but by golly, what she says has weight."

Okay, I'll say that.

I'll also say that I agree with a lot of the objections mentioned here, by mostly everybody who has made them.

First, let's talk about the term "racist". I do think that there is structural racism in our society, that white people have been privileged by it (materially, not spiritually - spiritually, we've been robbed). But I do think that any privileged group has blinders, and has to work at seeing things that they have been insulated from. I don't mind thinking of myself as a "racist" as a thought experiment, believing that I have been damaged in my perspective by institutional racism, segregation, and privilege.

But (and I stick to my guns regarding the words I use to describe the right-wing in this country), I'll take a brief page from GftNC's book about precision of language. If structural racism makes us all racists, then everyone is a racist, including African-Americans, just as everyone is a misogynist, including women professors who (studies show) have graded their female students less generously than their male students.

I'm not sure that the term "racist" has any meaning then. So on that point, I'm totally with those who object to the term being used to describe "white people" who are aware of racism, and have tried to overcome it in their own lives. (Maybe that's too broad a brush, but there's certainly a difference between people who vote for civil rights initiatives, and people who vote against them.)

I also agree that lived experience is important. People who have genuine human relationships with other people learn from that. Yes, they still may suffer from structural racism, but willingness to accept the humanity and equality of other people on a day to day level is a fairly strong indication of progress.

I recounted the early experience (and well-remembered - not so many 4 or 5-year-old memories exist) of being harassed as a child. I remember being really scared. That maybe isn't an unusual story if you grew up being black or brown. What does that do to people? For me, I was called something, and probably learned somehow that 1) those were horrible people, but also 2) no, they wouldn't hate you if they knew you were white. A lot of people don't get the second message. Also, let me repeat: my parents were opposed to racism.

So diAngelo's talk had flaws, and since I love to argue, I would argue about them. The discussion itself though is important.

So, assuming that DiAngelo's message is 'correct', how should we try to convey that to other white people? (again making the assumption that this is pretty much a white space)

Also, (and I'm sorry if this sets teeth on edge), but DiAngelo specifically says this:

I'm pretty sure I'm speaking to a room filled with white progressives, so let me just be clear, you are not the choir, there is no choir, I am NOT the choir, that when I say there is no choir, it's because my learning will never be finished and the moment I think I'm the choir I think I'm gonna be done and I'm gonna have certitude.

It is common rhetorically to say something and mean the opposite ('I'm not talking about you, I'm talking about [xxxxx]'), so if you believe that DiAngelo is lying or doesn't understand what she is saying, that's one thing, but if you agree that there is a choir that needs to change its behavior, how do you propose to tell them?

I think it may be helpful to remember that her talk here was based on the introduction from her book and that the book itself has full chapters on many of the things she merely outlines. And given that this is an author talk at a library, she's definitely preaching to a choir that has, by and large, either already read her book and come to hear her or have heard about her book and are interested in getting a taste of it before committing to reading it themselves.

A couple of reviews for the book itself:

https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/a-sociologist-examines-the-white-fragility-that-prevents-white-americans-from-confronting-racism

https://www.lareviewofbooks.org/article/on-the-defensive-navigating-white-advantage-and-white-fragility

...and the LARB review has a link to the predictable frothing of the National Review's Grande Flat White.

I have not read the book. I have two other books already in the queue and other titles about anti-racism that would be more productive for me and for the world at large. But I think (and hope) that the book itself might do more good in the world than a short talk that has to truncate and simplify everything.

FWIW, I think there's a lot to what sapient says at 07.40.

My initial reaction was hugely negative as this is a common conservative trope, you know, "liberals are the real racists" or "liberals are the real fascists".

I’m still at a loss as why you’d initially think that’s where I’m coming from. Just because I’m a moderate Democrat, you think I’m posting here to pwn libruls?

Shun the nonbeliever! Shuuuuuuuuun! ShuuuuhuhuhuhuhuuuuuuuNUH!

As for Jackie Robinson, only the strawman is saying "Some white people decided the time had come to break the color line".

And a couple links (National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Equity Project) that might be useful for thinking about the concerns and questions that sapient raises:

https://nmaahc.si.edu/learn/talking-about-race/topics/social-identities-and-systems-oppression

https://nationalequityproject.org/resources/featured-resources/lens-of-systemic-oppression

Both of which might be useful for getting the discussion out from underneath the effect of personal reactions to DiAngelo herself.

but if you agree that there is a choir that needs to change its behavior, how do you propose to tell them?

Which behavior? I think that's the problem. When well-meaning white people have the opportunity to interact with African-American people on a deep enough level to talk about important things, we can look to some of her examples of insensitivity as good advice. What else does she teach us about how we should change, especially when we don't have the opportunity for day to day contact?

By the way, her hair example was interesting to me, because (another personal vignette - sorry), I have extremely curly, unruly hair. It's been a curse and a blessing, and I won't go into that for now, but it's definitely been an issue in my identity. So, recently I went from brown (having colored it to its original shade for years) to closer to its now natural color of white (but because I bleached the color out, it was platinum blonde, and now is showing white - and who knows, I'm not committed to keeping anything). People have reacted very strangely. Some very supportive friends (not strange! Thank you!). Some very skeptical. The only out and out against? An African-American woman who I see in volunteer situations. She definitely liked the "before". I had to laugh when I heard diAngelo's hair story.

Which behavior?

If we atomize behaviors, it is probably the case that nothing we do will specifically impact African Americans. I doubt there is anything that anyone has done here that has _directly_ impacted on African Americans. I'm sure that if there was, if someone pointed it out, they would stop.

The NewYorker article that nous points to is very good.

last thing, Pollo, I specifically asked to that there be no hyperbolic posts. I'm really sorry, but I'm giving you a warning. Perhaps you didn't look at the 'rules' closely, but please take a look at them and try to stay within them. Thanks.

I’m still at a loss as why you’d initially think that’s where I’m coming from.

I thought that because you were repeating, just about word for word, what I could hear from somebody like Tucker Carlson without much of any further elaboration. I see no reason why that should not get some pushback on an otherwise liberal blog.

Straw: I don't see it that way, but as a different take on a commonly held belief. But whatever, you're the attorney.

Have a good day.

nous,
Thanks for the links. The second one should be read by all here...only one page.

Thank you for your 7:54, GftNC.

I'd start with looking at who is buying her books. I'd bet that it isn't the folks that need to be persuaded. "Preaching to the choir" -- rarely expands the congregation.

LOL, wj. OK. We had 60,000 folks out here in Seattle yesterday in a silent peaceful demonstration in support of #BLM. They were overwhelmingly younger. I pray they catch the bug and become preachers and build choirs.

I pray they catch the bug and become preachers and build choirs.

Seems like it's already happening. Thanks for the image.

I thought that because you were repeating, just about word for word, what I could hear from somebody like Tucker Carlson without much of any further elaboration. I see no reason why that should not get some pushback on an otherwise liberal blog.

I don’t watch Tucker Carlson, but I’m pretty sure I gave context for my comments w/r/t weaponizing charges of racism.

Straw: I don't see it that way, but as a different take on a commonly held belief. But whatever, you're the attorney.

This isn’t my take or opinion. Show me where a legitimate baseball commentator has ever argued that Jackie Robinson should not get credit for breaking the color barrier. I’m honestly not aware of that. I’m sure that someone has suggested that the management of the Dodgers should get some acknowledgement too, but no serious baseball commentator or historian has taken any credit away from Robinson.

The NewYorker article that nous points to is very good.

Seconded.

Another potential bomb for the day.

I note that in the scope of this discussion we have read both that black people are too sensitive and need to be less reactive, and that anti-racists need to be more sensitive to the feelings of the people they are talking to.

Is this an ironic commentary on how we conduct these conversations or a tacit acknowledgement of the power differential involved in conversations about race or something else that needs further elucidation?

Show me where a legitimate baseball commentator has ever argued that Jackie Robinson should not get credit for breaking the color barrier.

I doubt there is any such person, so that could be a very hard task to pull off.

Robinson certainly deserves a lot of credit....but he had a lot of help. As I read it, DiAngelo is taking on two common totems (1.) the American myth of individuality and achievement; and (2.) The fact that it was white people who ultimately made the decision.

But perhaps I might be overstating my case...everybody here knows I rarely do that (badda bing).

nous, that is an interesting point. It could, on first thought, reflect the power differential in that the issue is observed by one group and experienced by the other. Or, even without the context of the power inequity, just the difference in the urgency of the discussion between the two groups.

lj: but if you agree that there is a choir massive number of white people that needs to change its behavior, how do you propose to tell them?

Good question! And here is a person (DiAngelo) who has spent decades in workshops and other personal settings trying to do exactly that....

So where do we go from here?

The NewYorker article that nous points to is very good.

Sad for Katy Waldman that there is also a Katie Waldman.

DiAngelo giving her talk in Cape Town. Given the current conditions in South Africa, her assertion that POC can't be racist is a bit unconvincing. Although I suppose, the white advantage could still prevail in Cape Town.

"On the 05th of November 2019, The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the Social Justice Agency hosted a social justice engagement with Dr. Robin DiAngelo, talking about her book, White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism."
White Fragility: Why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism

DiAngelo giving her talk in Cape Town. Given the current conditions in South Africa, her assertion that POC can't be racist is a bit unconvincing.

Charles, if you could point me to where she said that, I would appreciate it. If you can't, please stop.

I've just finished listening to the link CharlesWT provided to DiAngelo's talk in South Africa. In some ways, it is probably better, some of the examples are crisper. At 15:19, she says this:

right let me let me say all people have bias, in this case racial, all people have racial bias, my friend Edwin could be on [just looking at my] face [when] meeting me, dismiss me because I'm white and snub me and that wouldn't be nice. That would be bias or prejudice and discrimination. He can do that and I can do that but when you back my groups bias with power, it is transformed and we have to reserve language for that difference.

She seems to be saying that white racism is global. And anyone who is not white can only be biased, not racist.

19:19: "So, let us look at racial oppression or systemic racism. It is a global system. It encompasses economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that institutionalize and perpetuates an unequal distribution of resources between white people and black people. In this context, I'm going to say people of color as a kind of umbrella term. And this system works to the benefit of white people. And to the disadvantages of people of color. OK, white people. Put on your seatbelts. There's no such thing as reverse racism. OK. These are not fluid systems. Everyone has a bias. And if that's important to you. And if I may add, that a five-year-old's argument. But if that's important to you, you can have it. Yes, they are just as bias as we are. But when you back my groups with power, you going to get what I'm about to show you."

Charles, I believe she is saying that POC cannot be systemically racist because they do not have access to the same levers of power. It is certainly possible, indeed probably, that they could be if the power differential were reversed.

I haven't been following events in South Africa closely but it doesn't seem that whites have much power at the moment. They seem to be a persecuted minority.

I assume you have some familiarity with what happened before. And how does this surprise you?

It doesn't surprise me. Whites use to have the upper hand in South Africa. I would be surprised if they weren't being mistreated. It just seems a little strange that she would be giving a talk on white racism there at the moment.

i doubt white racism has disappeared from SA, even though the systematic racism that favors whites is being dismantled there.

But DiAngelo says you can be racist only if you have power. Perhaps there are still enclaves in SA where whites are still in control.

This is a huge subject, but:

a) Economic assets, land and power (apart from political power) are still overwhelmingly in white hands, despite the fact that

b) There are now growing numbers of poor whites, who no longer enjoy a systemic advantage in gaining jobs etc (and many of whom are therefore deeply resentful).

c) Because of a), and the corruption of the modern ANC, and their failure to sufficiently address the appalling living conditions etc of most poor blacks in townships etc, there is certainly a growing "threat" to white interests from various directions (e.g. land reforms), the possible consequences of which are extremely hard to sympathise with given the way in which those advantages were gained and maintained.

d) Because of the intentional, systematic and openly acknowledged degradation of the black education system under the apartheid regime, and the consequent reaction of black youth (on the day Mandela got out of prison, almost the first thing he said was "Go back to school"), there is a generational lack of skills and expertise, which (combined with corruption) has had the effect of destabilising the structural robustness of SA institutions.

and

d) The continuing poverty and therefore resentment of the black population have had the effect of increasing general violence, not at all just, or even mainly, towards whites, but for example towards black migrants from other African countries who are drawn to SA because of its (even yet) more economically attractive prospects than some other countries.

I am absolutely no authority on modern SA, but I have been to modern Capetown and all its Malibu-like splendour seems almost entirely white, and then you get to the townships outside...

I am reasonably confident in the above info, but there is plenty of properly researched data available, and good SA newspapers, for anybody who is interested.

SA is still in the throes of working out the effects of colonialism and apartheid. Blacks have political power, but the struggle over economic power is ongoing.

As ye reap, so shall ye sow? For CharlesWT.

bobbyp, interesting. Thanks.

mentioning this feels like an example of what it talks about...

When black people are in pain, white people just join book clubs

This is all to say that when things get real — really murderous, really tragic, really violent or aggressive — my white, liberal, educated friends already know what to do. What they do is read. And talk about their reading. What they do is listen. And talk about how they listened.

This is all to say that when things get real — really murderous, really tragic, really violent or aggressive — my white, liberal, educated friends already know what to do. What they do is read. And talk about their reading. What they do is listen. And talk about how they listened.

For better or worse, depending on your point of view, South Africa has a libertarian party. Johannesburg's previous mayor was a libertarian.

Point taken, cleek. Black people have actually expressed (in writing!) what "they want". Here's another. There's no big secret here.

At a bare minimum, all of us should be on board with public policies such as these. You will notice that almost 1/2 of the voting public in this nation is not.

For the most part, they are not persuadable. The caterwauling about persuading them is a distraction. They need to lose, and lose permanently.

If you are concerned about "giving black people undue advantage thus fueling white resentment" (a concept I take issue with, but whatever), then how about some common sense structural reforms to our economy?

There's a lot in the way of good public policy out there that is not necessarily particularly radical. Support it. Support politicians who can get on board. If they win...push them again. Never stop. Never give up.

I haven't been following events in South Africa closely but it doesn't seem that whites have much power at the moment. They seem to be a persecuted minority.

I am rather puzzled by your totally ignoring my comment of 10.46, CharlesWT, which (despite the carelessness of two point d)s) seemed to have bearing on your comment here italicised. I'd be interested to know the reason, if you would care to give it.

I am rather puzzled by your totally ignoring my comment of 10.46, ...

Unfortunately, I'm unable to afford a temporal bus for my computer so I was unable to view your comment before making my own...

I am now even more puzzled. I made my comment two hours after yours, partly in reply since your information was so incomplete, to put it politely. What have I missed? Is "temporal bus" a computer term of which I am unaware?

Perhaps we're commenting pass each other. I took your comment to be questioning why I would make the comment that you quoted in part given your 10.46 comment.

The article linked to in bobbyp's 10.58 comment largely comfirms and expands upon your 10.46 comment.

The temporal bus is a fictional data bus that would, for example, allow me to view the contents of my browser at some arbitrary point in the future.

I think we may possibly be talking a different language! No worries, as they say in Australia (yet another language).

almost 1/2 of the voting public in this nation is not [on board].

For the most part, they are not persuadable. [emphasis added]

Which is to say, when you think about it, that persuading that persuadable minority, small as it may be, could well be critical for getting changes made. I agree that those who are not persuadable need to lose, and lose permanently. But persuading those few is far from being a mere distraction.

wj,
persuade, well perhaps. Pander? Never.

Folks always bring up these mythical voters, but when challenged to tell us ignoramuses just "who" they are, and what actually motivates them....we get crickets or paeons to "the middle".

Political scientists tell us that nearly every voter is a mishmash of deeply held (i.e., not exactly persuadable) opinions.

So I'd say when you cite some "persuadable minority" that you would have to be a good deal more specific.

Sun's out. Back to the weeding for me.

Political scientists tell us that nearly every voter is a mishmash of deeply held (i.e., not exactly persuadable) opinions.

So I'd say when you cite some "persuadable minority" that you would have to be a good deal more specific.

Either some people are persuadable, or they are not. If they aren't, there's obviously no point in making arguments on the topic; all you can reasonably do is kick back and wait for those who disagree to die off. Is that what you are saying? Because it sounds more like a rationalization for inaction.

OK, fair warning, at around 6 pm here, (which is about midnite on the west coast) I'm going to close the comments.

Either some people are persuadable, or they are not. If they aren't, there's obviously no point in making arguments on the topic; all you can reasonably do is kick back and wait for those who disagree to die off. Is that what you are saying?

This is the thesis that white fragility has to deal with. What you seem to be saying is that white fragility doesn't exist OR that DiAngelo's tone makes it impossible to talk about. Given that it took an 8:46 video to wake people up, I think anyone who believes the former is basically unconvincable. So assuming you are in the latter group, how exactly do you propose to convince the former?

Is that what you are saying?

Nope. You build coalitions. You take action. You find other issues that these folks may agree with you on that might override their position on a given issue. Say, for example, you promote effective labor unions that brings people to your side, even though they may still harbor racist sentiments. Or you find new political participants. The argument you are making is a dead loser because you are basically saying it's all or nothing....we convince the "global" 5-10% swing folks or we lose, and it is over. Politics does not work that way. I don't care how many times one makes that assertion, it is not how it works.

How about answering lj's question? He has asked it more than once.

Alternatively, how about taking a stab at how the political position of anti-gay rights basically crumbled in a matter of a few (20?) years. How did it come about? I'd be interested in how you see it. Was it because the "middle" was "persuaded"? Why were they persuadable on that issue, but apparently not the issue of race?

I feel that would be a more fruitful discussion.

Alternatively, how about taking a stab at how the political position of anti-gay rights basically crumbled in a matter of a few (20?) years. How did it come about?

Just a suggestion: Gay people are unidentifiable unless they come out. A lot of my gay friends were financially or professionally (or both) successful before coming out. Rich people have power. Also, lots of them are white males. As to women, many gay women are more assertive, for whatever reason (possibly because their self-esteem doesn't depend on bending their views to men), and that helped too.

All kinds of arguments can be made, because this is anecdotal. I get it if I am wrong, and I am sure to be corrected by some here who have more data than me.

I've always assumed that white folks were much more likely to have a close family member who is gay as compared to a close family member who was AA (and those would be generally by marriage or adoption).

I think that makes some difference. I fear we can't hope for a break through on racism like we had with gay rights (not that we are done there either).

What you seem to be saying is that white fragility doesn't exist OR that DiAngelo's tone makes it impossible to talk about.

I realy must work on expressing myself more clearly.

Does "white fragility" exist? Absolutely. I beg leave to doubt that it is as all-pervasive as Dr DiAngelo suggests, but that's a long way from saying it doesn't exist.

Does DiAngelo's tone make it impossible to talk about. No, but it does make the conversation more difficult. And when it comes to persuading those outside her piece of white American culture, it reduces the chances of success enormously.

Unfortunately, everybody here is in, or at least very close to, her subculture. At least on social views. Even the most conservative among us, You may have noticed the negative reactions here -- among the white working class folks that you'd like to persuade, the reaction would hardly be more positive. Do you doubt it.

You build coalitions. You take action. You find other issues that these folks may agree with you on that might override their position on a given issue.

Certainly worthwhile. But I submit that, if you insist on pushing DiAngelo's views in their face, coalition building will be harder.

The argument you are making is a dead loser because you are basically saying it's all or nothing....we convince the "global" 5-10% swing folks or we lose, and it is over. Politics does not work that way. I don't care how many times one makes that assertion, it is not how it works.

No, I'm saying that if you don't, success will take longer and be more difficult. For progressive whites, taking longer may be an acceptable price for maintaining ideological purity. For others, perhaps not so much.

You raise the example of opposition to gay rights crumbling in a couple of decades. As Pollo notes, lots of people discovered that they already had friends and relatives who turned out to be gay. That was a huge contributor. To get the same effect, you'd need the racially insensitive to acquire relatives of other races. Which is happening, of course, but it's slow and never likely to be as pervasive.

What arguments do I feel would work? I wish I had a magic wand on this. But I don't. Which doesn't keep me from seeing the shortcomings of DiAngelo's. My guess is that what would work better is the kind of coalition-building you suggest. While carefully avoiding the antagonism of DiAngelo's presentation.

Does that reduce racism? Not much. (Although reducing economic stress on working class whites would reduce the motivation for some.) But it would reduce black poverty. As sapient notes, money is power. Perhaps more to the point politically, more blacks who are less poor means more who can afford the time and attention for voting and for politics generally. Which is another plus for getting structural changes to happen.

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