Our Endless Dinner With Robin DiAngelo
Suburban America's self-proclaimed racial oracle returns with a monumentally oblivious sequel to "White Fragility"
“The ideology of individualism is dependent on a denial of the past as relevant to the present… Individualism denies the significance of race.”
— Robin DiAngelo
“Individualism is for f*gs.”
Nice Racism, the booklike product released this week by the “Vanilla Ice of Antiracism,” Robin DiAngelo, begins with an anecdote from the author’s past. She’s in college, gone out to a dinner party with her partner, where she discovers the other couple is, gasp, black. “I was excited and felt an immediate need to let them know I was not racist,” she explains, adding: “I proceeded to spend the evening telling them how racist my family was. I shared every racist joke, story, and comment I could remember my family ever making…”
Predictably, her behavior makes the couple uncomfortable, but, “I obliviously plowed ahead, ignoring their signals. I was having a great time regaling them with these anecdotes—the proverbial life of the party!” She goes on:
My progressive credentials were impeccable: I was a minority myself—a woman in a committed relationship with another woman…I knew how to talk about patriarchy and heterosexism. I was a cool white progressive, not an ignorant racist. Of course, what I was actually demonstrating was how completely oblivious I was.
No shit, the reader thinks. Instead of trying to amp down her racial anxiety out of basic decency, this author fed hers steroids and protein shakes, growing it to brontosaurus size before dressing it in neon diapers and parading it across America for years in a juggernaut of cringe that’s already secured a place as one of the great carnival grifts of all time. Nice Racism, the rare book that’s unreadable and morally disgusting but somehow also important, is the latest stop on the tour.
Reading DiAngelo is like being strapped to an ice floe in a vast ocean while someone applies metronome hammer-strikes to the the same spot on your temporal bone over and over. You hear ideas repeated ten, twenty, a hundred times, losing track of which story is which. Are we at the workshop where Eva denies she’s a racist because she grew up in Germany, or the one where Bob and Sue deny they’re racist by claiming they think of themselves as individuals, or the one where the owning-class white woman erupts because no one will validate her claim that she’s not racist, because she’s from Canada?
A story in Chapter 1 of Nice Racism describes people who approach DiAngelo after anti-racism workshops to say, “I sure wish so-and-so were here—they really need this!” One chapter later, you’re reading, “While we enjoy attending workshops and anti-racism lectures, when it comes time to ask questions, the first will invariably be ‘How do I tell so-and-so about their racism?’” You wonder: Am I high? Didn’t I just read that? And didn’t I read that in the last book also?
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