Niceness Is Not Courageous: How Well-Meaning White Progressives Maintain Racism
How Well-Meaning White Progressives Maintain Racism
An incisive follow-up to the New York Times bestseller White Fragility asserting that it is white progressives who are responsible for inflicting the most daily harm on people of color.
Racism will not be interrupted by a hug or a smile. Dismantling white supremacy requires white people to commit to a lifetime of education and accountability. Continuing the work she began in White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo challenges white readers to rethink their ideas about racism and to confront their role in maintaining it.
She identifies common moves white progressives make to telegraph their niceness such as avoiding social discomfort, focusing on connections and commonalities, privileging concern for the feelings of perpetrators of racism over the victims, elevating intentions over impact, and credentialing. Writing candidly about her own missteps and struggles, DiAngelo urges other white progressives to align their practice with their values. Drawing on over 20 years working as an anti-racist educator, DiAngelo models a path forward, helping white readers to face their complicity and embrace humility.
Often touting their own liberal credentials as evidence, white progressives do not see themselves as racist and therefore, have not developed the skills necessary for examining their role in perpetuating racism. This is because white progressives are often steeped in a culture of niceness which is animated by a belief that racism is limited to bad individuals who commit intentionally violent acts. The flipside to this logic is the idea that a nice person with good intentions could never be a racist. But that's simply not the case. Racism is a system in which all white people are implicated.
Robin DiAngelo has been an educator and trainer on issues of racial and social justice for more than 20 years. She is the author or co-author of several books including the #1 New York Times bestseller White Fragility. She is an affiliate associate professor of Education at the University of Washington. Find her online at robindiangelo.com.