The bearer of an exalted wisdom

I seized the opportunity presented by No Internet to read some of White Fragility, and found it not as terrible as I expected, but hardly a work of staggering genius. There is this air of unfalsifiability about the whole thing, because she treats any disagreement with her or challenge to anything she says as an example and illustration of WhiteFragility, which amounts to declaring herself always right from the outset. It’s quite like Freud that way. Your resistance simply shows how right I am.

John McWhorter of course makes the same point:

DiAngelo has spent a very long time conducting diversity seminars in which whites, exposed to her catechism, regularly tell her—many while crying, yelling, or storming toward the exit—that she’s insulting them and being reductionist. Yet none of this seems to have led her to look inward. Rather, she sees herself as the bearer of an exalted wisdom that these objectors fail to perceive, blinded by their inner racism. DiAngelo is less a coach than a proselytizer.

When writers who are this sure of their convictions turn out to make a compelling case, it is genuinely exciting. This is sadly not one of those times, even though white guilt and politesse have apparently distracted many readers from the book’s numerous obvious flaws.

I love that. When writers who come across as dogmatic and over-confident and smug, it’s exciting when they nevertheless make a compelling case! Hahahaha yes it is.

For one, DiAngelo’s book is replete with claims that are either plain wrong or bizarrely disconnected from reality.

There’s one place where she makes a wild claim about citizenship that gets the history completely wrong.

DiAngelo insinuates that, when white women cry upon being called racists, Black people are reminded of white women crying as they lied about being raped by Black men eons ago. But how would she know? Where is the evidence for this presumptuous claim?

It’s in the Karenpedia.

White Fragility is, in the end, a book about how to make certain educated white readers feel better about themselves. DiAngelo’s outlook rests upon a depiction of Black people as endlessly delicate poster children within this self-gratifying fantasy about how white America needs to think—or, better, stop thinking. Her answer to white fragility, in other words, entails an elaborate and pitilessly dehumanizing condescension toward Black people. The sad truth is that anyone falling under the sway of this blinkered, self-satisfied, punitive stunt of a primer has been taught, by a well-intentioned but tragically misguided pastor, how to be racist in a whole new way.

I have to say, if I were forced to choose between two writers as my only reading from now on, and those two were DiAngelo and McWhorter, I would choose the latter in a heartbeat.

12 Responses to “The bearer of an exalted wisdom”