Nice racism How progressive White people perpetuate racial harm

Robin DiAngelo, 1956-

Book - 2021

"Nice Racism asserts that it is white progressives who are responsible for inflicting the most daily harm on people of color"--

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Boston, Massachusetts : Beacon Press [2021]
Main Author
Robin DiAngelo, 1956- (author)
Physical Description
xxi, 201 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
  • Introduction
  • 1. What Is a Nice Racist?
  • 2. Why It's OK to Generalize About White People
  • 3. There Is No Choir
  • 4. What's Wrong with Niceness?
  • 5. The Moves of White Progressives
  • 6. Spiritual, Not Religious
  • 7. Let's Talk About Shame
  • 8. What About My Trauma?
  • 9. We Aren't Actually That Nice
  • 10. How White People Who Experience Other Oppressions Can Still Be Racist, or "But I'm a Minority Myself!"
  • 11. How Do You Make a White Progressive a Better Racist
  • 12. Niceness Is Not Courageous: How to Align Your Professed Values with Your Actual Practice
  • Study Guide
  • Acknowledgments
  • Notes
Review by Booklist Review

The 2020 murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin brought about an explosion of white interest in racism, and books like DiAngelo's White Fragility flew off the shelves as white progressives sought to educate themselves. But white commitment to antiracism can be transient, self-centered, and fraught with unacknowledged racism, which can do lasting harm to the very people of color to whom white progressives claim they wish to be allies. DiAngelo unpacks the social dynamics at play in so-called "nice racism," exploring common strategies white liberals use to center themselves and maintain their own comfort. Using examples from the author's personal experience of witnessing these dynamics in progressive spaces, the book carefully delineates manifestations of white progressive racism and breaks down the reasons they are problematic and how to do better. DiAngelo doesn't let herself off the hook: the pervasive racism of white culture means that no white person is fully free of it, even those who dedicate their time--and, as in DiAngelo's case, their careers--to eradicating it. Nice Racism offers a road map for white liberals to understand their role in upholding white supremacy, and the tools for those liberals to know and do better.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: White Fragility became a best-seller and appeared on many antiracism reading lists; order DiAngelo's timely follow-up accordingly.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

DiAngelo follows White Fragility with a fierce critique of the "culture of niceness" that prevents the hard work of dismantling racism. She identifies many problematic behaviors associated with white progressives, such as showcasing one's "credentials" ("I don't see color"; "my best friend or partner is Black") to establish one's "goodness," co-opting nonwhite culture under the guise of spirituality, and expressing disingenuous guilt over the privileges afforded by whiteness. DiAngelo, who is white, has particularly harsh criticism for diversity initiatives that address "every other possible form of oppression" in order to make white people feel included; she also asserts that many "woke" white people mistakenly believe that unintentional acts can't qualify as racist, and that they are not truly open to the perspectives of people of color, and fail to recognize that a belief in "individualism" ("if we all just saw ourselves as individuals, racism would go away") upholds white supremacy. Defending herself against accusations that she's taking the spotlight away from BIPOC authors, DiAngelo asserts that her work is meant to be read in conjunction with theirs, and includes a study guide to help readers "go deep and grapple." Though DiAngelo's defensiveness is more exhausting than inspiring, she dismantles unconscious biases with precision. Readers will feel compelled to hold themselves more accountable. (June)

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

The author of White Fragility suggests that with friends like White progressives, people of color need no other enemies. In opening, DiAngelo recalls a Black friend who, for various reasons, was finding it uncomfortable to address White audiences. Observing her and the group before her, "I saw a metaphor for colonialism." A Black person was doing the hard work of interpreting racism, and a White audience was receiving her insights without breaking a sweat themselves. DiAngelo makes very good points simply in noting how difficult White people--especially those who consider themselves progressive and who bill themselves as colorblind and open to friendships across the racial divide--find it to actually hear about the issue of racism. That issue is central, because "our identities are not separate from the white supremacist society in which we are raised." In that regard, merely maintaining that he or she is "nice," well-intended, and open-minded does little good. DiAngelo writes that her aim is not to explain Black people to White audiences but instead to "teach white people about ourselves in relation to Black and other people of color." One way to engage is to become an active learner with an eye not simply to nonracism but to anti-racism, to recognize that there really is such a thing as White privilege, and to build "authentic cross-racial relationships." The author provides enough proscriptions that a reader might feel as if a minefield of potential faux pas lies between good intention and meaningful action. But that's just the point, and she's certainly willing to own the assumptions and mores of her progressive kin. "As white people," she writes, "we tend to focus on the personal impact of receiving feedback on our racism without acknowledging the cost to BIPOC people for giving us this feedback." Altogether, it's a valuable primer to be read alongside the work of other anti-racist activists such as Ibram X. Kendi and Johnnetta Cole. A pointed reminder that good intentions aren't enough to break the cycle of racism. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.