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Teaching Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility’ Will Get You Sued

whiteness ideas Robin DiAngelo

The eyes of the highly paid trainer fix on your reddening face as she holds the book aloft. Then she reads to you from the sacred text of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility:

While the idea of color blindness may have started out as a well-intentioned strategy for interrupting racism, in practice it has served to deny the reality of racism and thus hold it in place … Racial bias is largely unconscious, and herein lies the deepest challenge-the defensiveness that ensues upon any suggestion of racial bias. This defensiveness is classic white fragility because it protects our racial bias while simultaneously affirming our identities as open-minded … we can’t change what we refuse to see.

How does one respond to this? Using erudite, academic words, a stranger has just accused you of being an “unconscious” racist. Worst of all, if you try to deny it, that’s just “white fragility” that “obstructs” the fight against racism. Denying you’re a racist is proof that you’re a racist.

Across the country, legions of these types of “trainers” are fanning out to indoctrinate in schools, government agencies, and corporate workforces. After a period of instruction, the trainers organize their students into small groups in which only one topic may be addressed: anecdotes of “racist” thoughts and deeds that reinforce the hypothesis. It’s like a giant group trial in which the accused is allowed to apologize but never allowed to defend herself.

Of course, nobody likes to be called a racist, particularly people who strive not to be one. It’s particularly galling to be assigned this malignant opinion by a stranger who knows nothing about the accused except the color of her skin.

Among the “praise” DiAngelo quotes for her monograph of poison is one describing her work as “a great contribution in promoting the necessary policy change and healing this country requires.” Yet in reality, the opposite is true. Indeed, if dwelling on ethnic grievances promoted peace and understanding, then the Middle East would be the most peaceful place on earth.

Should one suffer in silence as strangers affix the label of “racist” to each white forehead regardless of background or experience? Many people try to brandish their intersectionality credentials to escape the label. Were your ancestors among the 360,000 northern troops who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of African-American slaves? Did your white but Jewish ancestors barely escape the Nazis’ effort to “defend” Germany? Are you related to the white Muslim Bosnians slaughtered to address some ancient historical grievance?

Or are you a patriotic American who is committed to the principles of equal justice under the law? You can try your luck in the victim competition in your small group. But good luck with your tales of anti-Irish discrimination in the 1800s. By leveraging your family history, you’re helping to validate the woke dismantling of equality. Don’t play that game.

Or you can object. Truly, you have the right to object. Strangers do not have a right to assume your opinions based upon the circumstances of your birth. No, we don’t all have “unconscious biases” that make up a greater tapestry of “institutional racism.” That’s an unprovable hypothesis based upon a race-based stereotype.

In your workplace environment, it might not be prudent to speak up. It might cost you your job in an unfavorable labor market. But if you do have the courage to speak up, here is something you might say:

I don’t agree that I have an unconscious bias against people who are different from me. You’re telling me what I think and what I believe. If you want to know what I think, you can ask me. If you want to tell me about your own biases and prejudices, I’ll listen.

But it’s not appropriate for me to tell you what you think. It’s not fair to assign me an opinion about other people. You don’t know me. And I won’t agree to you making assumptions about my beliefs.

If the trainer persists, or you are disciplined for resisting this racial stereotype, file a discrimination complaint with Human Resources. It’s not legal to discriminate against any race or skin color—yes, even Caucasians.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission proudly trumpets its courtroom victories fighting discrimination, including when it occurs against Caucasians. In Kilgore v. Trussville Development, the EEOC successfully sued an employer whose manager repeatedly referenced the victim’s race (Caucasian) stating, “you’re the wrong color,” before firing her.

In 2012, Kauai in Hawaii paid $120,000 to settle a federal charge of racial harassment against a Caucasian woman. Her manager continuously made disparaging remarks about Caucasians, told her to assimilate more into local Hawaiian culture, and leave her Caucasian boyfriend for a local boy who was a “person of color.” In 2011, the EEOC successfully sued Dots, a clothing retailer, that denied employment to Caucasian applicants since early 2007.

HR departments should tread very carefully when selecting training in the current environment. If management pushes training that assigns collective guilt to any race, religion, sex, or ethnicity, it may constitute direct evidence of discriminatory intent in a later lawsuit claiming discrimination.

Training based on the book White Fragility, if sponsored by decision-makers as a mandatory expression of corporate culture, will likely be heavily relied upon by future plaintiffs who suspect they were denied promotions, bonuses, and other opportunities due to their skin color.

Every American is entitled to equal treatment regardless of race. That is still the law — at least for the time being. But rights have a way of disappearing if nobody speaks up.