White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism is a book by Robin DiAngelo about her experiences as a for-hire diversity trainer for corporate America. The book was first published in 2018, but has recently soared atop the New York Times bestseller list as race relations are back in the forefront of our collective consciousness.
At first glance, this appears to be a positive development. The murder of George Floyd and the protest movement that has arisen in its wake have created a cultural moment in which Americans of all backgrounds seem more committed than usual to creating a less racist society. But is White Fragility really the book we should be looking to to help realize this goal? Cedrick-Michael Simmons, writer and instructor at Ithaca College, argues against this proposition in his thorough and incisive article entitled “I’m Black and Afraid of White Fragility.”
Simmons debunks the very premise that racism can be effectively combated with diversity training. He also offers a more systemic critique that such training programs shift all civic responsibility from employers and corporations to individual workers. And finally, he makes a more essential argument that DiAngelo fundamentally rejects the idea that there is such a thing as a universal human experience, and instead promotes racial essentialism.
Cedrick-Michael Simmons joins us to discuss all of this and more on our latest podcast episode. You can listen to our discussion in its entirety below:
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