Author: White progressives are wrong to think they’re not racist

Oct 3, 2017
Originally published on October 2, 2017 4:52 pm

Last week we brought you a conversation centered around this question: What can white people do about racism in America?

Robin DiAngelo, an author, consultant and former professor of education, joined Stateside today to continue that conversation. She's author of the book, What Does it Mean to Be White? Developing White Racial Literacy.

“None of us are exempt from the forces of conditioning that surround us,” DiAngelo said. “As long as we think of racism as a simple formula of individual conscious dislike that only mean, bad people hold, we will never be able to challenge racism.”

Those are her two main messages to white people. DiAngelo spends her time educating fellow white people about how to think about and address racism.

DiAngelo’s tactics can make her audiences feel uncomfortable almost immediately, though she finds they often can’t pinpoint exactly why. But she has a reason: “I don’t grant white people individuality.” As a sociologist, she said, she feels confident making such statements.

At the core of the problem, DiAngelo said, is apathy, which affects how racism plays out: white parents maintaining their school system as nearly all white, for instance.

White people need to demonstrate their commitment to addressing racism through “authentic, sustained and accountable cross-racial relationships,” she said. “I would just start with, ‘Know thyself.’”

Listen above for the full conversation.

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