White Fragility and the Breaking Point


Robin DiAngelo is a widely misunderstood author who is meeting with high-ranking people within UConn. I believe the people who meet with her should have a wide range of perspectives, to avoid the danger of groupthink and uncritical acceptance. She is viewed by some as a hero because she used her experience to try to end racism, and by others as a villain because she can be viewed as thinking white people are evil if you quote her book “White Fragility” out of context.  

She attempts to solve problems caused by whiteness but has made some of those problems worse as well as alienated many other well-meaning white people in the process. Her ideas being used to create a veneer of good intentions over a system of corporate exploitation of workers of all races is one of the worst things that has happened. This can be shown through the fact that some of the most brutal corporate leaders are willing to pay her large sums of money for training. This has even happened at major public universities, where taxpayers must pay these fees. What the recipients of this training get from her is a struggle session where they are told they are racist and mocked if they try to deny it using the term “white fragility.” It might be a real concept, but in practice is just used to make white people believe they’re racist, and encourages them to believe DiAngelo’s ideas uncritically. Believing any ideas because of psychological pressure is dangerous. 

Totalitarianism has been a danger throughout history. Recently, the ideas of Robin DiAngelo have served to support totalitarianism by creating a good class and a bad class. People of color are presumed to be fighting for equality while white people are presumed to be fighting for supremacy based on generalizations, and DiAngelo said, “Yes, all white people are complicit with racism.” She is against racial guilt, but a lot of the things she has said tend to produce that result. She hasn’t appeared to promote any solutions to the problem other than saying that you’re racist if you’re white. Since all groups have a range of opinions, this dual class structure allows corporations and media to portray viewpoints as good or bad by highlighting expression of specific viewpoints by people in specific classes, even when the viewpoint is a minority within that class. One can see that it enables this by watching how most of the power structures of society quickly adopted these tactics after the death of George Floyd. The people that rule our society have gotten into power by being as ruthless as possible. It’s no surprise that a demoralizing ideology that treats one class as doomed to evil with no chance of redemption, and whose only distant hope of salvation is endless self-flagellation, and another class whose members are encouraged to blame any of their problems on the other class, appeals to people who wish to divide workers. This dual class structure can be found in “White Fragility” and can be made to sound very convincing using DiAngelo’s statements. Anyone who attempts to unite the workers of America is quickly removed by the ruling class, unless they can be made useful to the elites, as DiAngelo was. They will even be made to appear racist, such as when Grant Napear said that all lives matter and was fired. They try to justify this by finding white supremacists saying all lives matter and then demolish the idea in the public. Then once they have done that, they take a problem such as police brutality and turn it into a racial wedge, closing space for debate on what to do about the problem. 

 As much as one might wish to stick their head in the sand and hope to live through this while continuing to make a living, this is no longer possible for our generation as we are in the final phase of capitalism, in which capital takes over from labor permanently. 82% of restaurant jobs have the capacity for automation, and even jobs that require hard-to-learn skills like most of us are aiming for will still likely be automated in our lifetimes. Even lawyers and authors will not be immune to this trend. In this phase of capitalism, the goal is not to build up workers to produce, it is to quickly lower the power of excess humans and to use them as a cudgel against the last shift of labor as they close up shop for good. The goal of demoralizing and dividing the masses is to prevent their uprising as the tools they built are used to destroy them, to once and for all take the natural resources of the Earth and to use those resources to fulfill the whim of the ruling class. Work hours will continue to stay high and perhaps increase until the job is done, as this creates a precarious class and a powerless class, neither of which can use the leverage it still has. The solution is to defend everyone’s right to live, think, work and defend themselves by protecting organizations such as unions and creating new ones where they are needed. People are being denied access to employment, with the express goal of utilizing the potential of as much of labor as possible to resist this division, by depriving the capital of the powerless reserve army of the unemployed and giving the precarious class leverage by removing the threat of starvation. In order to build a popular base of support for this problem, first the purposeful division of society needs to be exposed, which is where this university comes in.  

Robin DiAngelo herself likely does not intend to create totalitarianism, racism against white people or the exploitation of workers by the ruling class, and the fact that she has pointed out problems in the culture she grew up with proves that she can fix things. But unfortunately her book has been used by others to advance their own interests, which is a danger faced by all thinkers. Angela Nagle, in her book “Kill All Normies,” describes how a variety of movements for equality have been used by some to attack people and in doing so, turned many people against equality and toward the far right. 

What began in obscure chat rooms in dark little corners of the internet morphed and became the "alt-right" movement just as the Trump campaign gained momentum. #KillAllNormies airing now on FUSION. Where to watch:

Originally tweeted by FUSION TV (@fusiontv) on January 27, 2018.

Fortunately the university has the potential to transcend rhetoric and blind ideology to find the truth. Our university did that in World War II, when we admitted 18 Japanese-Americans as most of the country and even other universities discriminated against them. George Fukui left an internment camp to attend UConn, where he felt welcomed even as a tide of resentment for the actions of some Japanese at Pearl Harbor led to the demonization of an entire lineage, even those born in a different nation. We are capable of doing this again, as we are all humans with the capability to elevate reason over superstition and rage. I believe that by careful thought, it is possible to avoid the problems that occurred in World War II. To do this, UConn should encourage professors with diverse viewpoints to attend the retreat with Robin DiAngelo, in the hopes of gaining the truth, so that UConn may continue to improve itself and also to challenge and improve DiAngelo’s ideology.  

I do not wish to impute any malice to DiAngelo, but as she admits, when one grows up in a culture, one absorbs the values of that culture. She grew up in a racist culture, so she would hopefully appreciate constructive criticism more than most. Finally, UConn should create a space for creative expression and cooperation, as that has generally led to a reduction in bias throughout history, such as in the 1960s, and it has much less risk of pushing people away. 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual writers in the opinion section do not reflect the views and opinions of The Daily Campus or other staff members. Only articles labeled “Editorial” are the official opinions of The Daily Campus.

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