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Simplify White Fragility: Robin DiAngelo On Why Whiteness Has Meaning

In this episode of Simplify, Caitlin talks to author of White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo.
by Carrie M. King | Mar 1 2019

How often do you think about your race? If you’re white, then chances are it’s something you rarely have to contend with, if ever. If you’re a person of color, it’s likely your race shapes how you interact with the world, and it with you, everyday. Robin DiAngelo is a racial justice educator and the author of White Fragility, a book which speaks to how difficult it can be to have productive conversations about race with white people.

In this episode of Simplify, DiAngelo speaks to Caitlin about how racism isn’t necessarily just about hate speech and outright violence, but is built into our systems, our governments, our pop culture, and the large-scale representation of white people as the “default”. Well-intentioned, progressive people can be just as guilty of racist behavior by refusing to acknowledge the inherent, received biases that we all have as a result of our society and upbringing.

“Right now most white people believe that if our intentions are good, then the impact of our behavior should not count.”
Robin DiAngelo

Listen to DiAngelo speak about the flawed idea of colorblindness, why people of color end up spending so much time shielding the feelings of the white people around them, and how to become better allies by admitting to, and working on, internal prejudices.

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Who’s Robin DiAngelo?

Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility

Robin DiAngelo is a dynamic and provocative speaker who addresses the highly-charged topic of what it means to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet is deeply divided by it. She has been a consultant and trainer for over 20 years on issues of racial and social justice and was appointed to co-design Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative Anti-Racism training. Her book, White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism was released in June of 2018 and debuted on the New York Times bestseller list.

Robin DiAngelo’s Recommended Reads

Stamped from the Beginning offers a powerful examination of the modern history of racism in the United States, including where racist ideas originate and how they spread. In particular, the author looks closely at how the presidential campaigns and administrations of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton have helped propagate racist thought and had a detrimental impact on America’s black communities.

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race examines the often-dismissed problem of racism in Britain and offers insight into how it might be overcome. Contrary to the title, this volume provides a starting point for productive conversations about racism in Britain today. It examines British black history, white privilege, and the links between class and race.

So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo

What’s been very clear from this interview with Robin DiAngelo, is that it’s very difficult for people to talk about race is a productive, respectful way. People often simply don’t have the right language and therefore end up skirting around the issue completely. This straightforward, but very reader-friendly guide, gives us the tools to talk about race in a way that will actually be useful to everyone in the conversation.

How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide by Crystal Fleming

For many people, the word racism is linked to extreme expressions like violence, or historically, slavery. However, racial politics in the U.S. and beyond is still extremely problematic and needs to be tackled head-on in order to make the world a fairer, more inclusive place for everyone.

Extra Credit Reading

If you would like to dive deeper into some of the topics Robin DiAngelo covers in this Simplify episode, check out this book list composed by Ben and Caitlin!

Ta-Nehisi Coates’ open letter to his then 15 year-old son, is a moving meditation on what to means to be a black man in America. Full of personal anecdotes and experiences of racism, the book is a means of warning young people of color of the challenges that will face them in the world beyond their family.

Want to have better fights? Don’t we all. Nonviolent Communication is one of the many books that Blinkist peeps swear by, and it’s all about how to listen better, how to express upset in a way that leads to productive conversations, and how to make sure conflicts are resolved in a respectful, kind, healthy way.

What’s Simplify?

Simplify is a podcast for anybody who’s taken a close look at their habits, their happiness, their relationships, or their health and thought “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” We talk to bestselling writers, productivity wizards, sex geniuses, and happiness experts to find it for you.

Simplify is made with love by Blinkist. Click here to try Blinkist free for 14 days with the voucher code: fragile

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Talk to us!

We want to hear from you! Drop a line to us at [email protected] about whatever tickles your fancy.

If you want to say hi to Ben, Caitlin and Terence in the meantime, you can find them on Twitter: @bsto, @CaitlinSchiller, @terence_mickey.

Who made this?

Your hosts are Caitlin Schiller, Ben Schuman-Stoler, and Terence Mickey.

Research and production assistance by Natallia Darozhkina, sound and editing by Terence Mickey, Ben Jackson, and Ody Constantinou.

Thanks to Nico Guiang for our awesome intro and outro music. Listen more on Soundcloud or check him out on Facebook.

Got links?

Robin DiAngelo’s Website
Robin’s article, No, I Won’t Stop Saying White Supremacy

Read the transcript here!

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