A pair of unsparing judges

Cashing in.

Were White Fragility to be adapted as reality TV, the result might look something like this: A collection of affluent white women, equipped with varying degrees of vanity and self-delusion, gather at a well-appointed dinner table. There, they face down a pair of unsparing judges prepared to see right through them. Who’s racist? Time to find out. White wine flows; white women admit shameful secrets. They get squirmy; they get angry; they turn on each other. If one of them starts to cry, she has to leave. She will find tissues in the designated crying room.

The Real Housewives of White Fragility?

The Bravo version of Robin DiAngelo, in other words, might look a bit like Race2Dinner. Begun in 2019 by Regina Jackson and Saira Rao, Race2Dinner gathers groups of eight white women at the home of a white host, where Jackson and Rao facilitate a discussion about race over dinner.

And collect $5,000 along with the meal.

Jackson and Rao ask guests to describe racist things they’ve recently done and press them on any evasions. Often the examples that emerge involve silence: failing to speak up or intervene. Sometimes they consist of thoughts or feelings: assuming that the Black teens pulled over in a white neighborhood must have been doing something wrong. Sometimes the guests struggle to think of what to say. “Not knowing is classic white behavior,” Rao told me. “You don’t know, because it would ruin your entire image of being the perfect, nice white lady. I’m sure you’re intimately familiar with this, being a white woman.”

Heads they win, tails you lose.

When they first started out, they charged $2,500 per dinner, to be covered by the host or divided among her guests.

“That’s peanuts,” Jackson told me when we spoke over Zoom. “People pay more than that to go to a yoga conference.”

Damn right! Make it 50k – make it 100k. Karens have all the money.

Their business model, unsurprisingly, attracted attention. In February 2020, a Guardian article on their dinners made the rounds online, inspiring umbrage and hilarity across the political spectrum. 

I’m pretty sure I did a post on that article, but I haven’t been able to find it. I’m very sure I read it, at least. It’s interesting to learn how helpful it was to the nice facilitators.

Jackson and Rao, meanwhile, received an influx of new inquiries about their service and signed a deal to write a book called White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How to Do Better. They also raised the fee for each dinner to $5,000.

Cha-ching! Thanks, Guardian!

Lisa Bond serves as Race2-Dinner’s “resident white woman”; Jackson and Rao hired her to help organize events after she hosted her own dinner two years ago. (Bond had initially balked at the cost, but after seeing a post from Rao and Jackson about how many white women balked at the cost, she resolved not to be like the others.) Last summer, Bond said, she fielded some 300 emails in a three-month period and had nearly 100 follow-up phone calls of 30 or 45 minutes each. Of those, three women proceeded to book an event. “We get excuse after excuse after excuse,” Bond said. “It’s typical white-women fashion.”

An excuse isn’t actually required. It isn’t school or a court date or a job.

Jackson and Rao, who live in Denver, met in 2018, when Rao ran an underdog primary campaign against Democratic congresswoman Diana DeGette — “literally the patron saint of toxic white womanhood,” Rao said.

Literally. Who knew it was a literal category?

One of the past year’s few in-person dinners took place three days after the attack on the Capitol. Rao said that one woman — “the only woman in the group who seemed remotely willing to do this work, period” — had a question at the end of the evening. She looked at Jackson, and she looked at Rao, “and she goes, ‘Do you see any difference between us and the people that stormed the Capitol?’ And we both said, ‘No.’ ” The assembled women, a group of Colorado business and nonprofit leaders, “lost their entire minds,” Rao recalled. “So this notion of not all white people, not all white women — that is completely unchanged.”

What about all opportunistic profiteering women?

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