In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explained how racism is a system into which all white people are socialized and challenged the belief that racism is a simple matter of good people versus bad. In Nice Racism, her follow-up work, she draws on her background as a sociologist and over 25 years working as an anti-racist educator, to move the conversation forward. Writing directly to white people as a white person, DiAngelo identifies many common white racial patterns and breaks down how well-intentioned white people unknowingly perpetuate racial harm.
A powerful new book from the author of White Fragility reveals why profound racism is often found in supposedly liberal spaces ... Citing deeply revealing and recurring anecdotes from her career as an anti-racist educator, DiAngelo analyses how white Americans who deem themselves inoculated against racism uniquely embody racist practices, including herself ... DiAngelo pertinently distinguishes anti-racist strategies from the valued currency of white friendliness ... Highly instructional, with pertinent questions for white readers who consider themselves sufficiently 'woke' or have felt 'attacked' in discussions around race, Nice Racism interrogates the machinery of white progressiveness and how these gears actually work ... Most potent though is DiAngelo’s urgency to get the reader to consider whiteness: its illusions, promises, assumptions and casual narratives of self-importance.
DiAngelo diagnosed what has never not been obvious to Black people (to be Black in America is to hold a Ph.D. in whiteness, whether you want to or not) ... The upper-middle-class thin-skinned liberals among them are also very willing to pay for treatment, of which DiAngelo offers a booster dose in a new book, Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm, aware that the moment is ripe ... Indeed, everything she notices about whiteness has been noticed by Black writers before her. DiAngelo’s whiteness is her not-so-secret sauce, giving her crucial entrée to audiences who, as she puts it, 'are more likely to be open to initial challenges to [their] racial positions … from a fellow white person' ... To anyone who has been conscious of race for a lifetime, these books can’t help feeling less brave than curiously backward ... Interracial worlds, friendships, marriages—Black and white lives inextricably linked, for good and for bad, with racism and with hope—are all but erased by Martin and DiAngelo, and with them the mixed children of these marriages, who are the fastest-growing demographic in the country. I found nothing of my own multiracial family history in these books.
DiAngelo suggests that the animosity of many progressives towards her first book underlines that fragility – a failure to own either the power or vulnerability inherent in racial privilege ... The author’s style is to combine typically condescending accounts of her own encounters with white progressives (often while in the role of trainer and facilitator of anti-racist workshops across the US) with analytical exposition. Throughout the book, she assumes the role of an omniscient narrator of anti-racist truth, which grates ... she describes situations in which she herself does all of these things and without any sense of irony or awareness ... There’s a sense of deep internal contradiction running through DiAngelo’s writing that emerges from such discrepancies and which is at odds with the wealth she has accrued as an authority on anti-racism.