Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism
2018, Beacon Press
White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress. Although white racial insulation is somewhat mediated by social class (with poor and working class urban whites being generally less racially insulated than suburban or rural whites), the larger social environment insulates and protects whites as a group through institutions, cultural representations, media, school textbooks, movies, advertising, and dominant discourses. Racial stress results from an interruption to what is racially familiar. In turn, whites are often at a loss for how to respond in constructive ways., as we have not had to build the cognitive or affective skills or develop the stamina that that would allow for constructive engagement across racial divides. leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This book explicates the dynamics of White Fragility and how we might build our capacity in the on-going work towards racial justice.
What Does It Mean To Be White?
Developing White Racial Literacy
“Rarely will one find an analysis of whiteness (and the problems associated with it) that is as comprehensive as this one. From incisive and wide-ranging critiques of how white folks deflect, deny, and evade the topic of racism, and the implications of our own racial identity and position, to an absolutely on-point interrogation of how racism and whiteness influence white teachers-in-training, and thus, the larger educational process, Robin DiAngelo demonstrates the kind of clarity of thought so needed on this important subject.”
—Tim Wise, Author of White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son
“With directness, sensitivity, and clarity, Robin DiAngelo leads the reader through a series of challenging and revelatory discussions that have profound implications for teaching and learning in today’s classrooms. Her question, What does it mean to be white?, underscores the pressing need for honest dialogue, particularly among white educators, about this tremendously important topic. I hope every teacher has the opportunity to read this book. Both they, and the students they teach, will be the better for it.”
—Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita, Language, Literacy, and Culture, University of Massachusetts
“This book goes well beyond Diversity Training 101. It is filled with comprehensive knowledge and useful tools for understanding racism and white people’s role in it. An invaluable resource for every educator, student, practitioner, and concerned citizen; you will be better prepared to address all forms of oppression after reading this book.”
—Eddie Moore, Founder of The White Privilege Conference
DiAngelo, R. (2012). What does it mean to be White?: Developing White racial literacy. NY: Peter Lang. “What does it mean to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless yet is deeply divided by race? In the face of pervasive racial inequality and segregation, most whites cannot answer that question. Robin DiAngelo argues that a number of factors make this question difficult for whites—miseducation about what racism is; ideologies such as individualism and colorblindness; defensiveness; and tendency to protect (rather than expand) our worldviews. These factors contribute to what she terms white racial illiteracy. Speaking as a white person to other white people, Dr. DiAngelo clearly and compellingly takes readers through an analysis of white socialization. She describes how race shapes the lives of white people, explains what makes racism so hard for whites to see, identifies common white racial patterns, and speaks back to popular white narratives that work to deny racism. Written as an accessible introduction to white identity from an anti-racist framework, What Does It Mean To Be White? is an invaluable resource for members of diversity and anti-racism programs and study groups and students of sociology, psychology, education, and other disciplines.”
Is Everyone Really Equal?
An Introduction to Key Concepts in Critical Social Justice Education
2012 Critics Choice Book Award! from the American Educational Studies Association (AESA) for outstanding contribution to scholarship in the Social Foundations of Education field.
“This is a brilliant primer to help us consider what it means to think critically and to act for justice.”
—Bill Bigelow, Rethinking Schools magazine
“The most accessible book on social justice I have ever read! The authors demonstrate that important concepts about social justice and political change can be both understandable and engaging.”
—Mara Sapon-Shevin, Syracuse University
“Sensoy and DiAngelo’s book is to social justice what the Chicago Manual of Style is to the art of writing. It acts as a kind of guidebook. It introduces several basic fundamental ideas that form the structures beneath a number of essential concepts, thereby offering a clear road map for putting those concepts into action toward affecting change.
—La’Ron Williams, Interfaith Council for Peace & Justice.
“This timely book offers a reader-friendly, unflinching approach to answering those questions on social justice that people are often afraid to ask. All critical educators need to get this text in the hands of their students.”
—Darren E. Lund, University of Calgary
Sensoy, Ö. & DiAngelo, R. (2012). Is everyone really equal?: An introduction to key concepts in critical social justice education. NY: Teachers College Press. Written by invitation of James Banks for his Multicultural Educationseries with Teachers College Press, this practical handbook will introduce readers to social justice education, providing tools for developing “critical social justice literacy” and for taking action towards a more just society. Accessible to students from high school through graduate school, this book offers a collection of detailed and engaging explanations of key concepts in social justice education, including critical thinking, socialization, group identity, prejudice, discrimination, oppression, power, privilege, and White supremacy. Based on extensive experience in a range of settings in the United States and Canada, the authors address the most common stumbling blocks to understanding social justice. They provide recognizable examples, scenarios, and vignettes illustrating these concepts. This unique resource has many user-friendly features, including “definition boxes” for key terms, “stop boxes” to remind readers of previously explained ideas, “perspective check boxes” to draw attention to alternative standpoints, a glossary, and a chapter responding to the most common rebuttals encountered when leading discussions on concepts in critical social justice. There are discussion questions and extension activities at the end of each chapter, and an appendix designed to lend pedagogical support to those newer to teaching social justice education.
Publications in Peer-Reviewed Journals
DiAngelo, R. & Sensoy, Ö. (2008). “But I’m shy!”: Classroom participation as a social justice issue.
Sensoy, Ö. & DiAngelo, R. (2017). “Diverse Candidates Encouraged To Apply…”: How Faculty Hiring Committees Reproduce Whiteness and Practical Suggestions for How They Can Change. Harvard Educational Review.
Thurber, A. & DiAngelo, R. (2017). Microaggressions: Intervening in three acts. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work.
DiAngelo, R. & Sensoy, O. (2014). Calling in: Ways of speaking, thinking, seeing: Cultivating humility, curiosity, and vision in service of anti-racist practice. Journal of Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 4(2).
Sensoy, Ö. & DiAngelo, R. (2014). Respect differences? Challenging the common guidelines in social justice education. Democracy in Education, 2(1)
Matlock, S. & DiAngelo, R. (2015). “We put it in terms of “not-nice”: White anti-racist parenting. Journal of Progressive Human Services, 26(2).
DiAngelo, R. & Sensoy, Ö. (2014). Leaning in: A student’s guide to engaging constructively in social justice content. Radical Pedagogy, 11(1).
DiAngelo, R. & Sensoy, Ö. (2014). Getting slammed: White depictions of cross-racial dialogues as arenas of violence. Race & Ethnicity in Education, 17(1) 104-128. DOI:10.1080/13613324.2012.674023.
Matias, C. & DiAngelo, R. (2013). Beyond the face of race: Emo-Cognitive Explorations of White Neurosis and Racial Cray-Cray. Journal of Educational Foundations, 2(1).
DiAngelo, R. (2012). Nothing to add: The role of white silence in racial discussions. Journal of Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 2(2), 1-17.
DiAngelo, R. (2011). White Fragility. International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, 3(3).
Schroeder, C. & DiAngelo, R. (2010). Addressing Whiteness in Nursing Education: The Sociopolitical Climate Project at the University of Washington School of Nursing. Advances in Nursing Science, 33 (3) 244-255.
DiAngelo, R. & Flynn, D. (2010). Showing what we tell: Facilitating anti-racist education in cross-racial teams. Journal of Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 1 (1) Article 2.
DiAngelo, R. & Sensoy, Ö. (2010). “OK! We get it! Now tell us what to do”: Why we can’t just tell you how to do critical multicultural education. Multicultural Perspectives, 12 (2) 97-102.
DiAngelo, Robin J. (2010). Why Can’t We All Just Be Individuals?: Countering the Discourse of Individualism in Anti-racist Education. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies, 6(1), . Retrieved from: http://www.escholarship.org/uc/item/5fm4h8wm
DiAngelo, R. & Sensoy, Ö. (2009). We don’t want your opinion: Knowledge construction and the discourse of opinion in the equity classroom. Equity & Excellence in Education, 42 (4) 443-455.
Sensoy, O. & DiAngelo, R. (2009). Developing social justice literacy: An open letter to our faculty colleagues. Phi Delta Kappan. 90 (5), 345-352.
DiAngelo, R. (2006). The production of whiteness in education: Asian international students in a college classroom. Teachers College Record. Vol 108(10), (p. 1960-1982)
DiAngelo, R. (2006). My class didn’t trump my race: Using oppression to face privilege. Multicultural Perspectives. Vol 8(1), (pp.51-56).
Sensoy, O. & DiAngelo, R. (2006). I wouldn’t want to be a woman in the Middle East: White female student teachers and the narrative of the oppressed Muslim woman. Radical Pedagogy. Vol. 8 (1).
DiAngelo, R. & Allen, D. (2006). My Feelings Are Not About You: Personal Experience as a Move of Whiteness. InterActions: UCLA Journal of Education and Information Studies. Vol. 2, Issue 2, Article 2. http://repositories.cdlib.org/gseis/interactions/vol2/iss2/art2
DiAngelo, R. (1997). Heterosexism: Addressing internalized dominance. Journal of Progressive Human Services, Vol. 8(1), (pp.5-22).
When you do it to me, its racism (2017). In Uncommon Bonds: Women Reflect on Making and Maintaining Interracial Friendships. Smith, K. & Hall, M.R. Eds. New York: Peter Lang.
What does it mean to be a white teacher? (2017). In The Guide for White Women Who Teach Black Boys. Moore, E., Michael, A. & Penick-Parks, M. (Eds). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
The Sketch Factor: “Bad neighborhood” narratives as discursive violence (2016). In Fasching-Varner, Hartlep, Albert, Mitchell, Hayes, Martin, Matias, & Allen (Eds), The Assault on Communities of Color. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
When nothing’s lost: The impact of racial segregation on white teachers and students (2015). In Russell, M., Haynes, C. & Cobb, F (Eds), Interrogating Whiteness and Relinquishing Power: White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms. New York: Peter Lang.
Teacher Preparation Critical Reflection and Pedagogy (2015). Encyclopedia of Diversity Education. NY: Sage.
White Teachers, Teacher Preparation for Diversity (2015)). Encyclopedia of Diversity Education. NY: Sage.
Culturally responsive teaching and urban education. In Koppleman, K. Understanding human differences: Multicultural education for a diverse America. Third edition. Section 4. New York: Pearson.
My class didn’t trump my race: Using oppression to face privilege. Reprinted in: Koppelman, K. (Ed.) (2009). Perspectives on Diversity: Selected Readings, 340-344. Allyn & Bacon: New York.
“I’m leaving!”: White fragility in racial dialogue. In B. McMahon & D. Armstrong (Eds). Inclusion in Urban Educational Environments: Addressing Issues of Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice (213-240). Centre for Leadership and Diversity. Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto.