White Fragility’s Might Makes Right Reductio

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gabriel conroy

Gabriel Conroy [pseudonym] is an ex-graduate student. He is happily married with no children and has about a million nieces and nephews. The views expressed by Gabriel are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of his spouse or employer.

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  1. Avatar superdestroyer
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    says:

    White fragility is just another way of saying “Shut up, sit down, and do what you are told.” What DiAngelo claims is fragility is the defining of problems so there is only one solution and that whites had better not complain about being on payer end of the policy solutions.

    DIAngelo is not going to discuss the law cases of Hopwood, Gratz, Grutter, and Fisher that showed public universities using separate and unequal admission standards based upon race. DiAngelo is not going to discuss the Supreme Court cases from Seattle and Louisville where white students were being assigned to schools based on their race. DiAngelo is not going to discuss minority set aside contracting (8a)and how white supervisor are evaluated on compliance with it. DiAngelo is not going to discuss the separate and equal speech codes or religious regulations for blacks versus whites. DiAngelo is not going to discuss how the term “person of color” is used to confuse issue rather than clarity. BiAngelo is not going to discuss how the Voting Rights Act is used to draw districts that ensure that blacks win no matter how incompetent or corrupt. DiAngelo is not going to discuss that a black male with a 1000 SAT score has a much greater chance of going to college that a white male with the same SAT score. DiAngelo is not going to discuss that everyone who has been admitted recently to all the Ivy Leagues in the same year has checked off the African-American box on their applications. DiAngelo is not going to discuss how black males are expelled at higher rates from universities for sexual harassment versus whites or Asians.

    If anyone is fragile when it comes to discussing race, it is blacks and the whites who make their living telling whites to sit down and shut up. I have seen activist like DiAngelo is operation before. They are great at reading the crowd and picking out the person most incapable of being articulate in their questions or statements and making an example out of that person.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy
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      says:

      You might want to offer some cites for these claims.Report

      • Avatar superdestroyer
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        says:

        And what would be an acceptable cites? I do not feel the need to link for the 100th time to the points scoring sheet that the University of Michigan used to discriminate against white students. Remember the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Michigan was violating the civil rights of white students by having a different admission criteria for black and Latinos.

        I do not feel for linking the 100th time to the federal government 8a minority set aside contracting regulations. Why else do you think progressives started using equity instead of equality. It was to justify separate and unequal treatment based upon race.

        I do not feel the need for link the 100th time to the Parents Involved in Community Schools where the Supreme Court ruled that Seattle violated the civil rights of white students by assigning them to schools based upon their race. Do I really need to link the Nikole Hannah-Jones’s public speeches about Parents involved that can be summed up that Hanna-Jones mocked the “stupid white parents as losers” and that they need to sit down and shut up.

        I do not feel the need to link to all of the progressives whose argument against Abigail fisher is that she was a loser white girl who should just sit down, shut up, and do as she has been told.

        Does anyone really believe DiAngelo is going to bring up Millikan V Bradley where white students were going to be bussed across school district lines and place in schools where the parents would have zero ability to use the political system to influence. In modern times one would think that progressives would be against such as anti-democratic policy but then again, they are not.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy
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          says:

          You seem to want to have a different conversation than either GC or diFranco and arguably prove one or both their points.Report

          • Avatar superdestroyer
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            says:

            The issue is what is the purpose of the training or the book of DiAngelo. I propose that the purpose is to force whites to sit down and shut up and if they do not, tell them that they are fragile. The article mentioned two inarticulate people at these trainings who were not very knowledgeable, not very articulate, and not capable of making any headway against a professional diversity trainer.

            I also pointed out that there are any topics that DiAngelo (or any other diversity training) never covers but are never brought up. I also pointed out that one of the skills of these trainers and advocates is in reading the audience and picking out people to shame such as the two people mentioned.

            A quick tell for such diversity trainers is whether they imply that all whites (or blacks are the same) or use language to put whites into the undeserved other group such as referring to blacks as black folks.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy
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              says:

              Have you read DiAngelo’s book? Or participated in her trainings?

              It is interesting that you are criticizing the folks in the examples as not very knowledgable, not very articulate, and not capable of making headway against a professional diversity trainer. You seem to offer them little empathy and find them contemptible, almost as if you wished they hadn’t spoken (some might call that sitting down and shutting up).

              DiAngelo, as described here, does just the opposite. She hears what they are saying and says, “There is something behind this. Something more than racism or obstinance or all the other explanations that could be used to just dismiss them.”

              Her theory, as best I understand it, is NOT that whites should sit down and shut up. But that our society leaves white folks ill positioned to engage in these conversations which is one reason they so quickly go off the rails and leave everyone feelings worse rather than better, and rarely yield productive gains.

              She’s advocating that we start from a place of, “This is hard for white folks because IT IS HARD FOR WHITE FOLKS” rather than, “This is hard for white folks because white folks be racist/evil/theworst.”

              DiAngelo (who herself is white) I read as encouraging a different form of empathy for white folks when it comes to addressing matters of race. Gabriel is absolutely right that that empathy can be perverted into some really negative things. Which I fear is a very possible result of the quick ascendance of DiAngelo’s work.

              If you will, I’ll share a related example. I was working with a teacher who was really struggling with what she described as “toxic masculine elements” among her students. These are PreK kids by the way. And, at quick glance, there was some discomforting trends emerging: the boys would often segregate themselves off from the group, excluding girls. They would often use gendered language as a rallying cry (e.g., “Come on, boys!”). And they would sometimes exert pressure on one another to conform to group think. She saw this as male privilege rearing it’s ugly head and attempting to establish dominance in her classroom.

              I challenged her on that. The boys were a numerical minority in her room (I believe 6 out of 15?). Both their teachers were female. Most their mothers as their primary caregivers, often supplemented by female nannys/babysitters. All their teachers the year before were female. And the year before that. I challenged her to think about the possibility that those boys were feeling somehow marginalized because their micro-world might have seemed female dominated. She couldn’t consider it. I wasn’t even asking her to agree with it, just to consider the possibility. But she couldn’t even see it as a possibility. It was disappointing. As a result, I think she served those kids less well because she couldn’t see their potentially problematic behavior resulting from a place of need.

              We all benefit when we extend empathy to one another. That is how I understand DiFranco’s work — or, more broadly, the concept of WF, since I have not read DiFranco directly. Your read may be different. But I’ll note that you are the only one speaking of white folks — individually or collectively — in such negative terms.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
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                says:

                I have read her articles but not the book and have viewed several of her lectures. Her basic idea is that either agree with me or you are fragile and need to sit down and shut up. Her circular logic always gets back that the U.S. should not be based on equality but on equity which is justification for reparations, discrimination, affirmative action, and separate and unequal.Report

              • Avatar gabriel conroy
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                says:

                I really like your example, Kazzy, and your takeaway from it.Report

        • Avatar Dark Matter
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          says:

          Remember the Supreme Court ruled that the University of Michigan was violating the civil rights of white students by having a different admission criteria for black and Latinos.

          And afaict they’re still doing it.

          For proof; They had a system that gave points for race (equal to the difference between an “C” and an “A”). They replaced that system which is MUCH more complex, opaque, subjective, and gets exactly the same results as the old system.

          California’s experience was if you move to a totally fair system then you get different results. Another lesson from California was that (in practice) the issue is less that Whites are discriminated against and more that Asians are.

          The U learned to not write down what they’re doing in plain English that can be evaluated.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
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      says:

      I don’t 100% disagree with you. I do think White Fragility is sometimes used more as a club in empathy’s clothing than something very productive. It operates as an ad hominem, and (as I try to ague in my post) it might tend to feed a certain might makes right mentality.

      At best, though, I do think the term describes something real and it can be interpreted as an attempt to empathize with whites (or whichever “privileged” groups we’re talking about at the moment).Report

      • Avatar Kazzy
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        says:

        How it is used is really the crux of the matter. Just like #checkyourprivilege.

        Are you seeking to identify white fragility so as to offer that person support to work through the challenge? Or are you trying to get them to “sit down and shut up”? I can tell you what my intent would be were I to use the phrase (not that I have nor am I certain I will… who knows).Report

  2. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    says:

    A very thought provoking essay.

    It makes me think of how fragility interacts with our desire for democracy.

    A democracy is fundamentally “unsafe” in that it is open source and amoral; It can go in whatever direction the majority chooses and it demands that we surrender control over our lives to our fellow citizens.

    People who have been in the minority have always grasped this and adjusted to it. But for a lot of us white people, living in a world where our desires and culture and needs aren’t the default setting is disconcerting.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
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      says:

      You explain pretty much what the concept of white fragility has going for it, and the basic argument for why it works as an explanation. I certainly agree with your last two sentences, which is the essence of DiAngelo’s argument.

      I agree with your take on “democracy” as long was we stipulate we’re talking about majoritarian democracy.Report

  3. Avatar Kazzy
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    says:

    I, like you, haven’t read the book but have read about the book. The reductio is indeed a possibility, though the best conversations I’ve seen are focused on how to position all participants in these discussions — white or not, fragile or not — to contribute constructively and grow for them. An understanding of what diAngelo calls “white fragility” is best used to say, “This is a difficult conversation for everyone but differently difficult. White folks may struggle for this reason. How do we account for that so we don’t lose them?”

    Does that always happen? No. Anything can be weaponized.

    But I wonder… is the reductio more likely to come from supporters of the WF concept? Or opponents? It’s even possible that WF itself could cause white folks to tumble down the reductio.

    “Sam, we’re going to be having a discussion about race in the work place. In the past, that’s seemed difficult for you and understandably so. I’d like to work with you in advance of that to hopefully allow you to feel well-situated to contribute.”
    “What??? You think I can’t handle it??? You think only Black people can have this??? Are you meeting with all those other people to prepare???”

    I’ve led diversity work before. We never used the term white fragility in our prep but we always thought about how we accounted for the differing starting places of all participants. Any good trainer/teacher does this regardless of the topic. WF as a concept can be a helpful tool. But, again, it can — and likely will be — weaponized by folks closer to BOTH edges.Report

    • Avatar InMD
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      says:

      The last paragraph is a really good point. There’s a fundamental question it seems like isn’t being asked with approaches like WF, that being ‘what is the purpose of this?’

      If it’s to avoid EEOC liability and litigation it fails for a host of reasons. If it’s to increase harmony in the workplace it fails for a host of reasons. I tend to think the real reason is to make money and allow for a certain segment of management to pat themselves on the back. But maybe there’s another reason I don’t see.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels
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        says:

        You’re looking at diversity like its optional, maybe some sort of altruistic thing we do.
        Like white people are free to choose whether or not to be tolerant and broad minded and sensitive to the concerns of other types of people.

        Imagine living in a world where it isn’t. Where the whip hand of power is held by people see you as the tolerated guest and themselves as the tolerant host.Report

        • Avatar InMD
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          says:

          No, I’m talking about the real world where you have to manage real people not to mention navigate federal and state anti-discrimination laws. There’s room for training to that end. It’s the particular approach that’s at issue.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels
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            says:

            You don’t see the “real world” as one in which you are the tolerated minority, protected by anti-discrimination laws and diversity training?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird
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          says:

          You’re looking at diversity like its optional, maybe some sort of altruistic thing we do.

          Gotta say, the general feeling that I get is that Monoculture is inevitable.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck
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            says:

            “the general feeling that I get is that Monoculture is inevitable.”

            I think a lot of people expected a big movement toward this in 2008–something akin to the middle of the 20th century, when Kennedy was elected and the white-ethnic minorities–Polish, Italian, Irish–became White, in the sense people mean when they say “America is run by and for White people”.

            And everyone was surprised when it didn’t happen, and that the greatest pushback against the idea came not from actual black people but from the younger white middle class, who were upset at the idea that simply having a college degree was no longer enough to get a forty-five-year downhill coast to retirement.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy
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        says:

        I think it depends. Everywhere I’ve worked, those leading the charge were all sincere if their efforts. But these were schools, charged with meeting the needs of various constituent groups (parents, students, faculty, staff) and generally engaged in “human work.” Our “product” was people and if we weren’t positioned to understand and meet the needs of all these people, we were failing in our mission.

        Was the work always done well or right? No.

        But doing an inventory of our books to ensure a variety of faces and voices were represented was an important step. In doing so, we had to consider an approach that allowed us to actually achieve that. Discomforting to the point of losing folks undermined our effort. Watering down the goal to avoid discomforting those same folks undermined our effort. There’s alot of room within that and well-intentioned folks regardless of starting position can be a part of the work. The problem is when ill-intended folks — on any side — subvert the process. Some folks will insist ANY discussion is too much, regardless of whether it is. Others use these sessions as a hammer to walllop folks. None of that helps.Report

        • Avatar InMD
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          says:

          Concur entirely. There are ways to do this and it should be done. But it does require some threading of the needle, and this ain’t it.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy
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            says:

            I’m curious about the training diFranco mentioned that involved a room of exclusively white people. I have so many questions about that context and how it informed her approach (if at all).Report

            • Avatar InMD
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              says:

              Those are the kinds of things I hear and immediately think ‘here come the lawsuits!’ And that’s without getting into the larger effects of that type of methodology, which returns me back to my ‘what is the goal’ question.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy
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                says:

                You anticipate lawsuits coming from the white folks involved in the training? Or you think those trainings trigger, “Here come the lawsuits!”-type thinking among the intended-audience?

                But “What is the goal?” indeed! To me, if I were looking at an all-white workplace, I think the focus needs to be on upper-management… anyone involved in recruitment and hiring… before you start working with any of the groundlings.Report

              • Avatar InMD
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                says:

                I think the lawsuits could come from all kinds of directions when you start separating groups by race, regardless of the intent. Keep in mind the statutes in question prohibit discrimination by race generally. So yes you’ve got the possibility of lawsuits coming from white people who feel discriminated against. I could also see them coming from black people who feel like they’re being patronized, painted as a threat, or just otherwise singled out to the rest of the organization in uncomfortable ways.

                But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on region and industry you might also have sizeable numbers of South Asian and Southeast Asian personnel. Sometimes you have environments with tensions between H1b groups with religion, race, and ethnicity overlapping in difficult ways. Sometimes immigration status is part of the mix.

                And here you have this shrill person being sponsored by the company to tell everyone (a) to look at everything through the lense of race and (b) that anyone who fails to do so or accept her controversial theories is a racist. Someone is going to be rubbed the wrong way and sue. Someone is going to apply the lesson in a bunch of controversial, maybe illegal, ways and get the company sued. Someone is going to complain to a regulatory authority.

                This stuff that can fly in the rarefied air of universities and high academic theory really isn’t consistent with the law. It’s kind of like the recent kerfuffle at Princeton with the president mouthing a bunch of woke truisms without realizing that if what he’s saying is true the institution is violating the Civil Rights Act. And now they are under investigation.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy
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                says:

                Ah, I see. I read that as a workplace that was entirely white… not a group of white folks separated from their non-white colleagues. That dramatically changes things. Not sure which one she meant.Report

              • Avatar gabriel conroy
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                says:

                If I recall the article correctly, DiAngelo was doing either that session, or some of the sessions, in response to lawsuits, or at least complaints.Report

      • Avatar gabriel conroy
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        says:

        I, too, have mixed feelings about diversity programs. My own employer has over the last two years or so engaged in a fairly sustained effort to implement such a program. It has some of the pitfalls you identify, but it also sometimes works. (This from my own opinion and observation. I can’t speak for my coworkers.)

        At its worst, it feels like I’m learning scripts about what to say and believe and how to act, and those scripts seem to go beyond the types of skills necessary to get along. And since I read up some of this on my own, some of it seems like telling me something I already know. Finally, there seems to be precious little space for people to offer a thoughtful counterpoint to some of what’s said.

        At its best, this program has at least taught me to understand and listen to my coworkers better. It seems to have given a voice to some people who might otherwise not have one, or less of one.

        ETA: I hasten to add that my workplace is a public educational institution, and I hold a quasi-secure, quasi-insecure place in terms of both job security and control over my own workspace. All that affects the incentives and my observations of what works or not.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
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      says:

      You raise many good points, especially the one about opponents being more likely (or at least likely) to do the reductio. I’m probably guilty of that (I don’t count myself an “opponent,” but I’m frustrated with how I sometimes see WF used).

      I do thin WF, at its best, converges well with the approach you identify in your first paragraph (“This is a difficult conversation for everyone but differently difficult. White folks may struggle for this reason. How do we account for that so we don’t lose them?”) At its less than best, I think it devolves into, “you just can get to these people, they’re a lost cause because they’re so ‘fragile.'” (I admit, I have no cites for that, but it’s an attitude I’ve noticed among some, probably a minority, of people who invoke WF. Also, that is a little bit different from the reductio I discuss in the OP.)

      By the way, if you ever have time, the article from 2011 is easily Googleable and not too long a read.

      Finally, have you heard of the book “White Fatigue” by Flynn (I forget the first name). I’ve read the first chapter or so of it, and he seems to take what, to me, is a much more empathetic approach to notions like WF. He’s not arguing against DiAngelo, but he’s offering more of a clarification on it. (In theory I’d like to read more of it, but I just haven’t gotten around to it.)Report

      • Avatar veronica d
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        says:

        At its less than best, I think it devolves into, “you just can get to these people, they’re a lost cause because they’re so ‘fragile.’” (I admit, I have no cites for that, but it’s an attitude I’ve noticed among some, probably a minority, of people who invoke WF. Also, that is a little bit different from the reductio I discuss in the OP.)

        Some people can’t be reached, at least not on a reasonable time scale. Moreover, trying to reach them is exhausting. We all have a finite budget of time and energy.Report

        • Avatar gabriel conroy
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          says:

          I do agree that some people can’t be reached, but I think the number may very well be smaller than (that very imprecise number of) some may think.

          However, I’m not going to say it’s not exhausting or that there’s not a point where someone can legitimately say they don’t want to or shouldn’t have to expend the time and energy.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck
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          says:

          “Some people can’t be reached, at least not on a reasonable time scale. ”

          And so you get what we have here today. Which is how he wants it. I don’t like this any more than you. But what we have, here, is a failure to communicate.Report

  4. Avatar Ferny
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    says:

    I often find myself stuck on these conversations because I basically think most DEI work is bad – and it doesn’t accomplish the goals it sets out to because it tries to simplify reality too much. A lot of DiAngelo’s work is about false dichotomies (though the idea of white fragility is definitely a solid one I’ve experienced in my life).

    But as a mexican kid, I then see superdestroyer and I go “yep, that’s some pretty nasty white fragility there” and is there a world were anything changes? I’ve often spent time thinking that DEI work really needs to be about empowering people that feel less empowered rather than necessarily informing white people – because I don’t know as a collective, there’s evidence that our current ‘make white people acknowledge their shit’ approach works at all.

    But mine is a view built by the cynicism of reality. All I want is to not be treated lesser than at work because of my race or have my career stalled because of it. A workplace that doesn’t assume that growing up as northeast white suburbanite wasn’t the default. I don’t think that will ever happen and so in some ways, my job for myself is to built that resiliency.

    Anyway, don’t have else much to add. I generally lurk and read everything here, but rarely feel compelled to response. My question is always on this issues – how much do people really want to live in an equal America? I’m always compelled to acknowledge that even the woke white liberals won’t give up very much to get there.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird
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      says:

      All I want is to not be treated lesser than at work because of my race or have my career stalled because of it. A workplace that doesn’t assume that growing up as northeast white suburbanite wasn’t the default. I don’t think that will ever happen and so in some ways, my job for myself is to built that resiliency.

      Thank you for saying this.

      For what it’s worth, *I* want a workplace that doesn’t assume that growing up as a Northeast white suburbanite isn’t the default.

      What’s wacky is that I wonder at the extent to which DEI work is helping entrench the status quo. (What’s the percentage of these classes being taught by Northeastern white suburbanites?)

      Edit: Also, you should comment more.Report

      • Avatar Ferny
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        says:

        Oh, I have this funny story. So I work in education world. One day on FB, someone I worked with shares that dumb excerpt that talks about the ‘culture of whiteness’ – which lists things like perfectionism, the written word, etc

        I pushed back on it because I think it’s silly and have said so. We started having a back and forth with out experiences as brown folks in education. Then finally, a white woman that used to work in the same org jumped into tell me how wrong I was to not understand whiteness and discrimination, how it had opened her eyes when reading the framework and that I should read a list she provided about racism.



        Yeah. So you are correct about how it’s being entrenched. As I said, I have a lot of issues with current DEI work – but unlike a lot of the people who slag on it, I think there are real issues it’s trying to address and they are hard to and it is meaningful. Most of the people who oppose it are doing so largely out of fragility and have no interest in making that work better. So I sometimes have to decide how critical to be.

        I would also comment more, but honestly, I’ve seen some batshit reactionary stuff in these comment sections that makes me not really want to engage. I get the internet shouldn’t be a safe space, but some of the stuff said by some of the posters is so wildly offensive that I just don’t have a ton of interest in engaging. I’ll try to push back on that feeling more.

        I generally post on LGM, where my more pro market leanings and my racial/sexual/class experiences have left me as a pretty discrete minority. And on, my belief in American exceptionalism.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird
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          says:

          As one of the batshit reactionaries, I certainly understand that attitude. But you’re also providing a perspective that many of us here don’t share and don’t understand.

          I don’t have a whole lot of faith that you can change everybody’s mind… but when it comes to this person here or there on this or that topic? Yeah, I think that maybe you can at least get some of them to say “hold up” at some point in the future.

          And that’s of enough utility that I think it’d make the occasional thing better, here ore there. (But if it’s too high a cost to pay, then it’s too high of a cost to pay).

          Then finally, a white woman that used to work in the same org jumped into tell me how wrong I was to not understand whiteness and discrimination, how it had opened her eyes when reading the framework and that I should read a list she provided about racism.

          Bill Burr was on SNL over the weekend. His opening monologue wasn’t particularly funny but… well. It discussed how quickly the protests were captured. I imagine that he’ll get in a good bit of trouble for that.Report

        • Avatar Damon
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          says:

          If you think this place has bat shit reactionary posts, you should look at Slate and the Intercept. It’s full of that….but it’s mainly from the Left.

          The folks who post here are, I think, in the smarter, more reasoned, more sensible group than almost any other site I’ve wandered through. Your mileage may vary though.Report

          • Avatar Ferny (y10nerd)
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            says:

            I mean, I don’t tend to post in those places for a reason. I basically only comment on LGM when it comes to online discourse. Occasionally, I snark on Twitter.

            I think the world is complicated and the thing I like to see before I engage with folks is the belief that they actually think the world as it is doesn’t represent what we should be and that it sucks for particular kinds of people (this isn’t always about race or gender – we really do need to figure out what to do for Appalachian whites, for example). To me, reactionaries are the ones that see the power differentials, the de facto caste systems and say ‘yep. sounds about right. Let’s make sure it sticks around.’Report

        • Avatar superdestroyer
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          says:

          The main reason to oppose Diversity, inclusion, and equity is that the terms used by trainers versus what most people understand. It is the same as the use of the term “Person of Color.” I realize how the diversity types mislead people with the use of the terms when a DIE advocate stated that silicon valley did not have enough Person of Color. It was quickly pointed out that Silicon Valley is over 50% Asian. The advocate had to then grudgingly back down and say that she mean black.

          In the end, the entire antiracism push is just a campaign for reparations along with separate and unequal treatment on the basis of race. But I guess noticing that makes one fragile.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy
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            says:

            “ In the end, the entire antiracism push is just a campaign for reparations along with separate and unequal treatment on the basis of race.”

            False.Report

            • Avatar superdestroyer
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              says:

              Nonsense. The entire 1619 project is just a push for reparations. The white fragility meme is just a way to neutralize opposition to reparations. When one realizes that everything done for social justice is just a reason to justify and legalize separate and unequal, racial discrimination, and race-based reparations.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy
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                says:

                So… you did or didn’t read the book?Report

              • Avatar gabriel conroy
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                says:

                You know, Superdestroyer, it can be true that some of the push for antiracism is a campaign for reparations and separate and unequal treatment AND that it’s not true of the “entire” (your word) push.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
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                says:

                While relistenng to a Robin DiAngelo talk in Seattle, w
                she doubles down on equality of outcome, not equality of opportunity. Equality of outcomes is just another phrase for reparations, affirmative action, separate and unequal.

                In the end, attacking whites for fragility is just another way to say sit down, shut up, and do what you are told. And what they being told is to accept separate and unequal treatment by the government, by private business, by private organizations, and by non-whites.Report

              • Avatar gabriel conroy
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                says:

                Supedestroyer: The most significant point where you and I part company is that you seem to be doubling down on the claim that WF and related concepts always, without exception, can be reduced to “sit down, shut up, and do what you are told” and to compelling people “to accept separate and unequal treatment by government,” etc.

                I actually believe that those are tendencies in some of DEI work and in WF. I’m also open to believing that DiAngelo, in the rest of her oeuvre, falls in that camp, although I haven’t read enough by or or seen enough of her talks to make that determination.

                But I think WF is more than just what you’re suggesting, even though I’d say it is at least *sometimes* what you’re suggesting. There are alternative and more productive ways in which WF can be used.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
                Ignored
                says:

                In reviewing Robin DiAngelo speak https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45ey4jgoxeU

                It is obvious that White Fragility is designed to mean that there no argument that a white person can make that will overcome Ms. DiAngelo’s position that White People (or should I say White Folks) must sit down, shut up, and do what they are told.

                What is amazing is that in a city that is 15% Asian and 7% black, that Ms. DiAngelo still insists on seeing the world as white and black. As the joke goes, for diversity trainers it is always 1964 in Selma and nothing has changed since.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                From wiki on her book, the bar for “racist” is set so low that no matter how woke you are and no matter what your lifestyle, if you’re white then you’re still a racist.

                She went there to deal with all the woke white liberals who were pushing back on the idea that they were also racists.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
                Ignored
                says:

                But the reason to call those white liberal racists is to put them into a position that they must sit down, shut up, and do what they are told.

                However, no matter how much shaming Ms Diangelo does to her audience, they are not going to live in a majority black neighborhood or send their children to a majority black school. Thus, the end point is to shame whites into supporting reparations, affirmative action, and separate and unequal standards as a payment for their guilt.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, this definitely hits the radar as a power grab.

                I’m not sure it’s as defined as “supporting X” because there’s so much fuzzy thinking in there.

                I would expect it’s more “restructure society to make racial equality real” with not a lot of thinking on what that means nor self awareness on how ugly the policies might be in reality (or alternatively, she thinks significant parentages of the GDP will be spent and is cool with that).

                I’m sure Affirmative Action would be in there as would reparations, but I seriously doubt that she’d accept that people shouldn’t be forced to go to the same schools and so on.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ve said before and I will say again: “Zipwho is the most fun you can legally have with zip codes“.

                You can also google “school district (zip code)” to find out what school district your zip code is in and then google “demographics (your state) (school district)” to find out the demographics of the school district your kids would go to, if you had kids that would go to that school.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I’ve never cared about the demographics. There are direct ways to measure what’s important for schools (test scores and so on).

                The problem is after you look at school evaluation websites, test scores, rankings and so forth you end up with something that tracks pretty well with demographics pretty well.

                That’s the problem in a nutshell.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
                Ignored
                says:

                Nikole Hannah-Jones always discusses how when white parents are given web-based school info software that the first thing looked up is the demographic data.

                Also, try to find peer-reviewed published research on white children in majority black schools. It is almost impossible to find especially compared to research on black students in majority white schools.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I think the point here is that while you may not care about demographics, that would make you unique among Americans, conservative or liberal.

                It’s a problem, and as demonstrated in this comment thread, makes a lot of people very uncomfortable and angry when its discussed.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I think the point here is that while you may not care about demographics, that would make you unique among Americans, conservative or liberal.

                Or perhaps I just knew after I selected for what was important, I’d also be selecting for demographics? If we’re allowed to not-assume-good-faith then these accusations can’t be defended against.

                It’s a problem, and

                Wait, what is the problem here we’re trying to solve?

                as demonstrated in this comment thread, makes a lot of people very uncomfortable and angry when its discussed.

                We’re taught that Racism is evil. Trying to claim that [someone] is a racist and ergo Evil is likely to raise feathers from them. It seems unlikely that will change.

                Similarly, a lot of social engineering that the Left really wants seems nakedly self-serving, unjust, and a power grab. Ergo it generates push back. Defending against that push back with accusations of racism translates into “do what I want or you’re evil”.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                The problem is segregation, and a society in which black and white people lead very different lives and experience a different America and ultimately an America in which not everyone is equal.

                Don’t take my word for it, listen to George “Nat” Turner.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                From the Sacbee:

                California’s schools are among the most segregated in U.S. What can be done about it?

                Using California as an example of what needs to be done, I suggest you start yelling about racism and segregation and how bad it is.

                And, after that, it doesn’t matter. You get points for caring, not for not having segregated schools.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Because the real issue here of course, is white people’s feelings and who can claim the moral high ground.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Eh, you can have it.

                I’d be interested in hearing how your suggestions have worked out in your own home state.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Sure.

                How it works here is whenever someone talks about racism and segregation within liberal communities and the conversation cuts a little too close to home, someone rushes in to attack the person talking about racism to accuse them of wanting to score points, or virtue signalling or something, anything, just to divert the conversation away from racism and segregation within liberal communities.

                How’s it work in your state?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Here? We tend to remember the televangelists of the 1980’s and then, more recently, Ted Haggard in the oughts.

                Charitably, we see them as talking about important things because they’re important and being upset that they’re not able to reach up to the standards they wish that we, as a society, ought to be holding.

                If less charitably, we see a grift mixed with deflection that makes us want to say “physician heal thyself”.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                You don’t think that maybe your bitter experience with evangelicals could be blinding you to a situation which is different?

                I mean, you read Solzhenitsyn uncritically and don’t see him as a self righteous grifter (although plenty of others have!) so why would you read James Baldwin or Ta Nehisi Coates or Jamelle Bouie any differently?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You know how televangelists tried to deflect criticism of them, personally, into criticism of God?

                Do you think that that worked out for them?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I can’t understand what point you’re trying to make, in attacking the character of those who talk about racism, instead of racism itself.

                What would be so difficult with just saying, “Yeah, racism is pernicious and embedded, even among white liberals.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, the problem with talking about “racism” is that suddenly you’re stuck making distinctions between “personal feelings” and “systematic racism” and trying to see what DEI training is actually doing and exploring what White Fragility means IN PRACTICE.

                And when you start digging into the weeds of that sort of thing, you can’t help but notice things.

                Including the people saying “play no attention to the white man behind the curtain”.

                If I were to make a list of “The Most Progressive States In The United States”, where would California fall on this list, Chip?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                So this is your big thing that you are “noticing”?

                That white liberal communities are also endemic with racism and segregation?

                Sure, this is the very thing that I’ve been saying repeatedly.

                So now that we’ve reached agreement on that, lets agree that white people tend to get very uncomfortable and defensive , and even fragile, when the subject of racism comes up.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                It is possible to lower the bar for what-is-racism to the point where everyone does it, even the most woke.

                However, if everything is racism, including liberals wanting good schools for their kids, then maybe the real problem is serious racism is mostly gone and there are still problems.

                There’s a game you can play on people being trained to detect counterfeit bills. You give them better and better fakes, then you give them real bills and wait for them to “find the flaws” in the real stuff because the fake stuff is gone.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                It is possible to lower the bar of what-is-sinful to where everyone is sinful.

                And if everything is sinful, then maybe the problem is that serious sin is gone and there are still problems.

                There is a logic flaw here somewhere.
                Can you spot it?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                It’s telling you compare “racism” to “sin” where it’s impossible to be sin free.

                Further the flaw in your logic is we can probably look around and find “serious sin” without needing to lower the bar so everything is.

                And that doesn’t change that lowering the bar so everything is a problem is simply a power grab.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, in theological terms, racism IS sin.

                Racism stems from the sin of pride, of thinking that one is part of a special caste, better than others.

                And yes, it is true that all humans are sinful and prideful.Report

              • Avatar Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                There’s another series of ideas that seems equally valid. Racism is a sin. Statistical variance indicates a multivariate solution and/or racism. Accusing people of sin based on statistical variance is a sin.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                And we have original sin that everyone is born with and we need a priestly class to tell us what to do about it.

                And thousands of years later, we still have sin. Almost like it’s purpose is really to give jobs and power to priests.

                I’d rather not be fighting racism for the next few thousand years. Sandra Day O’Connor had it right when she said there needed to be a time limit on these ethical exceptions we’re imposing to the normal rules.Report

              • Avatar Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t want to get too theological on this, but I’m sure we’ll be fighting racism for thousands of years. The lingering question is whether / how to identify it outside of one’s own heart.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m not a huge fan of Ibram X. Kendi but he does have a kernel of a point when it comes to the whole “not racist” vs. “anti-racist” thing.

                If you’re shouting about racism but you live in a segregated school district, there may be more going on than how much you care about racism and how much you think other people need to be doing to address it.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If you’re shouting about the people who are shouting about racism but you live in a segregated school district, there may be more going on than how much you care about racism and how much you think other people need to be doing to address it.

                Its like a fractal set of deflection and whattaboutery.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Don’t see it as deflection/whattaboutery but as wondering “what in the hell is really going on? Because if it were about adultery, you’d think he wouldn’t have 5 or 6 hidden love children.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Tu quoque, then.

                The best response to tu quoque is to acknowledge it then redirect back to the subject.

                So yes, even the people shouting about racism are themselves racist.
                We agree on that!

                So lets talk about how to end racism and segregation.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, let me ask you two simple questions.

                Which is more segregated according to the Civil Rights Project at UCLA: California or Alabama?

                Before today, did you know that the answer to the above question is “California”?

                Please refer to Table 7.

                The answer that I care about is the answer to the second question.

                As such, I’ll repeat it:

                Before today, did you know that the answer to the above question is “California”?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, which is something I myself have noted before.

                So now we are in agreement, lets talk about how to end racism and segregation.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You’ve noted that California is more segregated than Alabama?

                I don’t recall you ever pointing that out.

                Well, if I were to end racism, I’d look at stuff like “what have we done in the past?” and the stuff that made California worse off than even Alabama would be stuff that would make me say “Maybe let’s *STOP* doing that?”

                That’d be my starting point.

                So what has California done to try to end segregation in the last couple of decades?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Your approach doesn’t make sense since there isn’t any way to distinguish between things we have done which are effective but insufficient, and things which we have done which are counterproductive.

                One of the things which worked well is to shame and shun the overt racism. Remember that within my living memory William Buckley could write seriously that white people were the advanced race.
                Eventually he was forced by public shaming to retract that.

                So that works for at least the most overt types of racism!

                I think the discussion of white privilege is a good thing to have, since it allows people who are not overtly racist (like white liberals!) to enjoy the benefits of racism and segregated schools without needing to practice it openly.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I submit: If you’ve got more segregation than Alabama, you’re better off stopping everything than keeping on the same path you’ve been on for decades.

                One of the things which worked well is to shame and shun the overt racism.

                Really?

                How are we defining “working well” if we aren’t using segregation as a measuring stick?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Yes, it really works. We measure the level of racism by many factors like wealth and power and enfranchisement, not just housing segregation. Most of those variables have improved over the decades, just not enough.

                If you have other solutions, this would be a great place to start talking about them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Housing segregation? I’m talking about *SCHOOL* segregation. Brown vs. the Board of Education.

                And California is doing worse in 2020 than Alabama.

                I have not yet pulled up inequality numbers for California vs. Alabama. Should I bother or, much like segregation, do you already know what they are?

                If I bother to google them, I’m going to post them here and then I’m going to compare Today to Previous Decades.

                Should I bother? (I ask this blindly, without having googled it first.)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                See, just repeating the same point (that white liberals are also racist) doesn’t add to the conversation.

                Lets hear your proposals.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                Lets hear your proposals.

                Strong financial incentives to get and stay married. I.e. stop encouraging single parenthood and stop thinking that the gov can substitute for two parents.

                End the war on drugs.

                End Affirmative Action for college admissions, you can have scholarships and so forth, but encouraging people to go to colleges they fail at is a problem.

                Each of these ideas is an attempt to have the gov stop doing things which encourage bad behavior.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Chip, I’m not saying “white liberals are racist”. I’m saying that California’s policies have resulted in measurably more racism than if they had not adopted them.

                It’s when the white liberals start arguing for the status quo (or, more obliquely, that they shouldn’t have to change because maybe things would have been even worse without these policies) that you can start accusing me of calling white liberals racists.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                What policies should they have adopted in lieu of the ones that produced such bad results?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                At the very least, we could point to Alabama’s and say “Alabama’s only got them to where Alabama currently is”.

                Is there a state that makes you say “Here! This! THIS IS WHAT A PROGRESSIVE STATE OUGHT TO LOOK LIKE!!!”?

                Because, if there is, I’m willing to run with that state’s policies. Sight-unseen.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                So you don’t have any suggestions of how to improve things?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                It looks like I don’t even have an example of how you would want things to look. Like, not even one.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                To what end?
                We’ve had what, a couple hundred comments on this topic over the years, and yet you aren’t able to name a single idea as to how to improve racial relations.

                Is there some great constructive idea you’ve been hiding all this time, which depends on Chip putting forward his proposal?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                To what end? Because if you’re saying “I WANT THINGS TO BE BETTER!” without being able to say what better looks like, you’re probably in a place where you haven’t defined the problem properly.

                Or, I suppose, are looking for a reason to maintain the status quo.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If you don’t have anything interesting or thoughtful to add, this is where we have to leave it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                You don’t think that pointing out that California’s policies have led it to a place where it is more segregated than Mister Falcon Alabama is interesting?

                Let’s look at Table 7 again:

                What’s the percent of black students in 90-100% non-White schools?

                California: 50.8%
                Alabama: 40.6%

                That is to say, more than HALF of California’s black student population goes to a 90-100% non-white school.

                What’s the percentage of students in the state that are Black?

                Alabama: 32.9%

                Well, I guess that makes sense, I guess.

                And California?

                5.5%

                THAT IS NOT A TYPO.

                Only 5.5% of students in California are Black and yet more than half of them go to schools where 90-100% of the student population is non-white.

                Your argument that we can’t know whether California’s policies made this better than it would have been otherwise is difficult to swallow.

                Why? Because random chance would have given us better numbers. Doing *NOTHING* would have done less harm.

                So my suggestion? Maybe quit doing what you’re doing. Not doing something else… just stop doing what you’re actively doing.

                Because what you’re actively doing has an actively racist outcome.

                Seriously. The old joke about Alabama was that it said “thank God for Mississippi!” whenever any list of “worst states” came out.

                Guess what? California is worse than Alabama.

                (Punchline: When it comes to segregated schools, California is worse than Mississippi too.)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                What is it that California is doing, that you want to stop?

                Making Hollywood movies?
                Growing avocados?
                Allowing parents to choose their children’s schools?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                “What is it that California is doing, that you want to stop?”

                Taking over the world obvs.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Chip, if I had asked you before we established that California was worse than Alabama and Mississippi when it came to school segregation what policies California had in order to mitigate racism over the last two decades, would you have had an answer?

                If so, I’d like to say “That.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                So, “any policy intended to curb segregation” is what you want to stop?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                No, specifically the ones that California has engaged in over the last two decades that had them fall behind Alabama and Mississippi.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Like what?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Ahem.

                Chip, if I had asked you before we established that California was worse than Alabama and Mississippi when it came to school segregation what policies California had in order to mitigate racism over the last two decades, would you have had an answer?

                If so, I’d like to say “That.”Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                I honestly can’t think of anything California has done in the last twenty years to curb school desegregation.

                Apparently you can’t either.

                Maybe that’s the problem- we should stop doing “nothing”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I’m beginning to suspect that “progressive” might be little more than marketing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Holy Crap. It just hit me.

                Progressiveness is White Robustness.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I honestly can’t think of anything California has done in the last twenty years to curb school segregation.

                On the subject of trying to make the school more attractive to high functioning students, let’s call out The Promise (also known as the Kalamazoo Promise). If your kid goes Kalamazoo schools for her entire schooling, she gets a free ride to college.
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalamazoo_Promise

                The obvious limitations to this are:
                1) It needed an in-house Billionaire to pay for it.
                2) It has to be available to the rich and successful.
                3) It only works as long as it’s a competitive advantage. If all the surrounding schools do the same thing then people like me are still strongly motivated to flee to the best.

                #3 is breaking the whole “collective” thing that we like to pretend we’re doing when it comes to education. I find it very hard to believe this could be done at a national level without our political class making it available to all schools as opposed to just the struggling ones.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Wouldn’t curbing segregation require voting against the last old-school Southern Segregationist in politics, who brags that Delaware was as slave state, who says his mentor was a Grand Keagle in the Klan, and who accepted an award from George Wallace?

                Asking for a friend.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Jaybird,

                if I had asked you before we established that California was worse than Alabama and Mississippi when it came to school segregation what policies California had in order to mitigate racism over the last two decades, would you have had an answer?

                If so, I’d like to say “That.”

                Be impoverished?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                California’s racism mitigation policies were “be impoverished”?

                If true, I think that we should definitely stop doing that.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg
                Ignored
                says:

                Note that although Alabama is much blacker than California, it’s also much whiter. Only 25% of children in California are non-Hispanic white, compared to 58% in Alabama.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
                Ignored
                says:

                Then how can California desegregate its schools when it does not have enough white children to balance schools. Or does California lump Asian-American students in with the white kids (and so much for the People of Color meme).Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                So yes, even the people shouting about racism are themselves racist. So let’s talk about how to end racism and segregation.

                If “racism” means “sin”, and/or “everything-is-racism”, and/or “the human condition”, then we’re talking about “how to end the human condition”.

                I suggest we accept that won’t happen and we focus on helping people and not blaming people. I also suggest we evaluate these various programs and approaches and see what they really do. Affirmative Action in colleges has multiple serious problems and its motivation seems to be more virtue signaling rather than “we know it’s doing what it’s supposed to”.

                So let’s talk about how to end… segregation.

                If we’re talking about at a school level, then that’s easy: My kids’ interests come first.

                My kids are high functioning and add to the classroom. I don’t expect all the other kids in there to be high functioning but that is the ideal and the other kids can’t be subtracting from my kids’ education.

                It needs to be in my kids’ benefit to be there. The quality of the education needs to be equal or superior to other choices. The number of disruptive resource-sucking students in class with her should be zero. They’re a problem but they’re not my problem if you don’t put my kids first then I’ll have them go somewhere else.

                This is possible, even in a system that has seriously problematic kids, via serious tracking. Note also that if I need to move out of the school system to make all this happen then I’ll be taking my tax dollars with me.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                You should refer to my very first comment on this thread, about how white people often speak as if diversity and multicultural society is an option they can choose, and then set a list of demands like a negotiation.

                Increasingly, as the world market globalizes, you may find that the whip hand of power, the hand that dictates your menu of choices, is a one which wasn’t born in America and doesn’t come from a heritage of Western Europe.

                I live in that world, and can report that (and this may shock you!) there are billions of people around the world who prefer to deal with someone who speaks Mandarin or Farsi or Hindi, and see your sweet and bright children as undesirables who just don’t fit in.

                White people are for the most part, completely unprepared mentally or emotionally to deal with this world.Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Actually, most of the world’s international companies try to hire American managers.

                What they’ve found is that they usually perform better and keep the employees happier, because (except perhaps for the current crop of virtually unemployable woke people) the local employees prefer working for Americans.

                You see, all those weird little alien cultures have all sorts of bizarre hang-ups that accumulated over the span of centuries. In some European countries, it was the norm to expect receptionists or secretaries to have sex with the boss. In others countries, kicking back part of the salary to the boss in the norm, or being forced to work unpaid hours, or expected to do all sorts of other things outside work.

                In comparison, American bosses are blissfully unaware of all that nonsense, and just focus on keeping everyone productive and getting the job done. The enforce the behaviors we’ve came up with because all our workers, who came from a vast variety of backgrounds in the old country, had different crazy behaviors, expectations, and triggers, and we had to figure out how to keep the English, Scotch, Irish, Italian, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Jewish, Indian, Cherokee, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean citizens all pulling together.

                We call this “American culture”, and it is superior to all others because it filtered through all the others for commonalities, while building on a foundation of the most successful business cultures at the time, which were British, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, etc.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                is a one which wasn’t born in America and doesn’t come from a heritage of Western Europe.

                This describes my wife quite nicely.

                white people often speak as if diversity and multicultural society is an option they can choose,

                Very true. My kid was on an award winning First Robotics Team. There were a lot of POC on it; Asians and Indians mostly.

                What you seem to be forgetting is there are a lot of high-functioning POC. I have standards. Those standards don’t include race. The last school I avoided was White. There are other White schools around which are obvious non-starters.

                and then set a list of demands like a negotiation.

                You tell me the situation and I’ll tell you my actions.

                I’m not going to send my kids into a sub-standard school because someone is squeaking about WF. You lack the power to change that. We’ve done Charter. If there weren’t good options around, we’d home school. Those are short term solutions; Over the long term I can and have moved across boundaries.

                It’s very unfortunate that when I say “The number of disruptive resource-sucking students in class with her should be zero.”, you apparently interpret that to mean something about race.

                Big picture the solution isn’t for me to lower my standards, it’s for the lower class schools to meet them.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                “I suggest we accept that won’t happen and we focus on helping people and not blaming people.”

                This is like trying to unsee something you’ve already seen. Ain’t gonna happen. Which is, IMO, why conservatives and the conservolibertarianish refuse to acknowledge that institutional racism exists. If you haven’t seen it, there’s nothing to unsee!

                On the other hand, though, you’re right that practical – pragmatic even- measures are the forward looking incremental solution. Not as a stand alone prescription, but in recognition that institutional racism exists.

                Add: Imagine, if you will, that everyone in this country, suddenly!, agreed that institutional racism was a real problem that required real solutions. What would be lost by acting on that recognition? What would be gained?

                Not a trivial question, eh?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                Of course, I’ve just reminded myself that some people might think a recognition of the problem of institutional racism doesn’t require any solutions other than what we’re currently doing or maybe even more of it, so more fool me, eh?Report

              • Avatar George Turner
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                says:

                I figure the conservatives can’t see institutional racism because they don’t live in Democrat cities that are built on, and maintained by, institutional racism.

                We figured institutional racism died out when we made it illegal. Doing that was quite a struggle, and the Democrats fought long and hard to stop it. Even the final big battle was the longest filibuster in Senate history.

                But those wily opponents had other tricks up their sleeves, like destroying the black nuclear family and Biden authoring a brutal crime bills to put black dads in prison forever over nothing.

                Heck, Kamala Harris locked up thousands over things she laughed about, and kept people in prison that she knew were innocent, but I guess she also figured that since they were black, they should probably be in jail anyway.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                “I figure the conservatives can’t see institutional racism because … we made it illegal.”

                {{heavy – like, REALLY heavy – sigh}}Report

              • Avatar George Turner
                Ignored
                says:

                Institutional. Embedded in the law. Democrat laws such as the ones that said blacks couldn’t stay in white hotels and eat in white restaurants. We don’t have any of that around where I live, though it’s probably the norm in your area. You see, in conservative areas we made racial discrimination illegal, in virtually ever conceivable aspect of life. Actually wrote laws and put them on the books!

                Ever since, Democrats have been trying to find loopholes to justify keeping the concept of racial superiority alive. They freely discriminate against Asians, and argue for it in court. De Blasio, Democrat hero, is currently sending spies into Jewish Orthodox synagogues to write down which Jew is where, and talking up the Jewish problem. He’ll probably round them up and put them in special Covid camps.

                Everybody who watched Star Trek, aside from the writers and others in Hollywood, apparently, got past race back in the 60’s. Democrats refuse to let it die, because stoking the flames of racial division and making the US more focused on race than mid-century Germany is the only thing they have left going for them.

                It’s the divide-and-conquer strategy that Mussolini warned us about, where the elites sow suspicion and racial division as a way to keep the oppressed classes fighting among themselves while the elites pocket all the money, such as the money that’s pouring into “Act Blue”.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                I hadn’t realized that “Institutional racism” meant “structural racism”. My intuition (like apparently George’s) was that it meant things like Red Lining and the other pack of things long since outlawed.

                This video mirrors a lot of my thoughts on the issue (and points out flaws, limitations, and the conservative responses to it). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TBDfMQ27Asw

                It’s not that structural racism doesn’t exist so much as its effects seem to be vastly overstated and the solutions can only be to support Democratic policies… which have not worked in the past.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                why conservatives and the conservolibertarianish refuse to acknowledge that institutional racism exists

                The definition of “institutional racism” is often pretty vague. What are you using for a definition here?Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                The problem is segregation,

                Self-segregation seems to built into the human condition.

                and a society in which black and white people lead very different lives and experience a different America

                This sounds like the definition of multi-culturalism. So are you claiming multi-culturalism is a bad thing?

                and ultimately an America in which not everyone is equal.

                What is your definition of “equal”?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe it would be easier if you pretended we were on Quillette talking about Christian conservatives in academia or Hollywood.Report

              • Avatar Dark Matter
                Ignored
                says:

                So you can’t define the problem in a way that tells the difference between Christian conservatives and other groups?

                This is why “racism” is so useful. Without that to blame you’re stuck trying to fix things like marriage rates and parental focus on math.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
                Ignored
                says:

                One has to define segregation. The old definition was a school was much more black or white than the overall population of its school district.

                However, the critical race theory types have refined segregated is not having enough white students. Since California has so few few children as compared to its overall population, of course large sections of California are going to have schools that have few white children. However, if the city is 80% Mexican-American, I would expect the schools to be 100% Mexican-American.Report

              • Avatar gabriel conroy
                Ignored
                says:

                I haven’t followed this subthread very closely. But I want to note something: It’s a lot easier to have a conversation if instead of saying “always,” you say, “sometimes,” “usually,” or “most of the time.” To be clear, I’m not sure anyone has literally said always, but you are strongly implying it.

                I suggest that few people are all bad and few ideas are entirely pernicious. Maybe WF is inherently a shaming project. Speaking subjectively, that’s probably my feeling, despite less than complete evidence: the main reason I wrote the OP is that I’m very ambivalent about the term. Even so, I also urge some of you here to consider ways in which it might work as a concept.Report

              • Avatar superdestroyer
                Ignored
                says:

                School integration is impossible. NYC Schools are only 15% non-Hispanic white with kindergarten being the whitest grade and 12th grade being the least. Trying to take that 15% and spread those white children across all schools would just cause most white parents to leave the NYC public schools.

                As the joke goes: The U.S. is running out of white children to use to buffer the dysfunction of the African-American community. Asian-American families also do not want their children used for social engineering purposes.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck
      Ignored
      says:

      “DEI work really needs to be about empowering people that feel less empowered rather than necessarily informing white people – because I don’t know…that our current ‘make white people acknowledge their shit’ approach works at all.”

      You’re not wrong, but there are plenty of people who feel like they’re Owed An Apology, and to these people, ‘make white people acknowledge their shit’ is the whole point. And they won’t stop pushing until they’ve gotten the apology they think they’re owed. There is no “let’s move on”, there is no “let’s just reset to zero”, there is no “let’s focus on progress”. They were Hurt by the Bad People, and they won’t let themselves be soothed until the Bad People are punished and say that they’re sorry.Report

      • Avatar Ferny (y10nerd)
        Ignored
        says:

        Sure. I mean look, I’ve spent a lot of time in rooms with black and brown professionals – it’s my life and it’s what I do. And like, I get the anger. Believe me. I’m often angry. I grew up in a border colonia on the Rio Grande border. I have lived this country’s immigrant policies. I have been told that they are surprised they let someone like me into premier universities. I have sat in conference rooms where people thought the question ‘Was the Mexican-American war good for America’ as valid as they talked about taking 1/2 of our land.

        I sometimes do just want white people to own their shit and be like ‘YES. WE DID TERRIBLE HORRIFIC THINGS, NOT AS INDIVIDUALS, BUT AS A COLLECTIVE, AND IT WAS BAD AND WE SHOULDN’T HAVE AND WE SHOULD STOP.”

        I know they won’t. I know it’s stupid because collective guilt is dumb. But on the other hand, my experience is that I am ALWAYS judged as a collective. That I have to be a credit to my race and culture otherwise it will be used against other people.

        So I tend to do my work in one on one relationships with folks, in trying to get them to be asset-based, in trying to get them to recognize their own worth and not depend on others to provide it. I’ve talked a lot about how I had to develop the self-confidence that I belonged in whatever space I was in even if history hadn’t been that way.

        But man, too many fucking people seem to spend their time pissed that the people that got screwed by history sometimes might want to screw others back. I get it – vengence and payback and shame isn’t going to make things going forward. But at some point, I’ve never found the kind of person that focuses on that to ever be that interested in actual pluralism, just in their status as a majority identity not to be challenged (and this goes beyond race – I’ve sat in some pretty shit conversations with men about how women seem to want ‘payback’).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        You’re not wrong, but there are plenty of people who feel like they’re Owed An Apology, and to these people, ‘make white people acknowledge their shit’ is the whole point. And they won’t stop pushing until they’ve gotten the apology they think they’re owed. There is no “let’s move on”, there is no “let’s just reset to zero”, there is no “let’s focus on progress”. They were Hurt by the Bad People, and they won’t let themselves be soothed until the Bad People are punished and say that they’re sorry.

        The troublesome dynamic isn’t the people who feel like they’re Owed an Apology but feel like other people are Owed an Apology and, By God, they will extract that apology from you on those other peoples’ behalf.

        Chip mentioned “See, a lot of the commentary about white fragility is white people talking to other white people about white people’s feelings of insecurity, and how to change white people’s attitudes without white people lashing out in anger. And white people setting out terms, demands which must be met in order for white people to accept diversity.”

        It’s about feelings and attitudes. And policing feelings and attitudes.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ferny. I appreciate it. My experiences with DEI work is that it does tend to oversimplify. (To be clear, I have been a participant, but not a leader in the DEI work.) I do understand that the DEI workers, at least at my institution, have to address a very broad range of people, not only in terms of race and ethnicity, but also in terms of education level, background, and (for lack of better words) status and rank in the institution.

      Again, thanks for the comment.Report

  5. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Part of the problem is that there are ways to do this effectively.

    It’s like, oh, surgery to remove a benevolent growth. There’s an entire process that can anaesthetize the patient, sanitize the equipment, sanitize the patient, do some light laparoscopy, get out with minimal invasion to the patient, make sure that they’re not going to get infected, and then do some tests on the growth that was removed. Make sure that it’s not malignant, that sort of thing.

    If you aren’t skilled, you may find yourself saying “This is just like on MASH!” and cut the guy open, stick your hand in there, and remove a bunch of stuff. “NO MORE CANCER!”

    That would be bad. Even though, on one level, it’s doing something similar to the first if the only thing you look at is “remove growth”.

    And there are those who will do the latter and claim to be helping the patient.

    When you scale this to an entire country’s HR departments, you’re going to find that you’ve got a lot more meatball surgeons than laparoscopic experts.

    On top of that, if you look at how corporate HR is likely to handle it, given the last 50 years, it’ll be an all-day meeting where everybody goes to the conference room for donuts, they watch a movie, they watch a power point presentation, they have lunch, they take a short test, they watch another short film, they have one of the People of Color say something awkward, they have one of the White Women give a speech about sexism and the difficulties of being a Woman in America Today (and in our pursuit of racial justice, we need to not ignore gender justice), and then everybody signs a piece of paper and we’re good for another year.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      You forgot the role playing 🙂

      But more seriously, one thing I give my institution credit for is that it takes different approaches to its DEI initiative. And it’s voluntary, or at least ostensibly voluntary. By “ostensibly voluntary” I mean, while our choice whether or not to participate is constrained and we face some incentives to volunteer and some disincentives not to volunteer (sorry for the double negative), we are to some extent allowed to choose. Someone might say that kind of “voluntary” isn’t voluntary at all, but in my opinion it at least gives some wiggle room for those who feel uncomfortable with the initiative. And I think that’s qualifedly a good thing.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird
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        says:

        It is good that your institution does a decent job. I don’t see a real way to make this scale across multiple industries, in multiple states, using multiple different sub-cultures.

        Kazzy’s point about how education does it should be different from how industry does it is a good one… and I know that my industry (IT, software) has different needs than factory work would need and that would have different needs than, say, jobs in the gig economy.

        I, personally, would like it if we could move to The Silver Rule as a general guideline with a smattering of exhortations to become someone that is good enough to use The Golden Rule. (But that’s a tall order and makes a lot of assumptions about a lot of shared cultural language which doesn’t strike me as fair, necessarily.)Report

      • Avatar Kazzy
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        says:

        This is interesting. My schools have all been small enough that pretty much everyone got the same training. Maybe admin got different training than faculty, but it was generally pretty one-size-fits-all. What you mention here makes me wonder if it almost needs to be tiered…

        Level 1: Basic workplace expectations (required of everyone) – Whether because it is a legal requirement or our own workplace expectation, here are some do’s and don’t’s when it comes to working with colleagues and customers.
        Level 2: Supporting a healthy workplace (required of management/supervisors, optional for others) – What do we do if others aren’t meeting basic workplace expectations? How can we help folks to go beyond basic workplace expectations?
        Level 3: Pursuing change in the workplace (optional for all): Want to make a positive difference in our workplace? Here’s some do’s and don’t’s for that.

        I’m just spitballing all this but I’m very intrigued by the idea.Report

        • Avatar gabriel conroy
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          says:

          That sounds intriguing to me, too. I don’t want to doxx myself too much, but I work in an institution of higher education, which is divided into colleges and into departments, and in my college/department, things are divided even further. So it’s a very large institution indeed. In fact, when I talk about my institution’s DEI efforts, I’m referring mostly to the unit that governs my subunit, and not the institution as a whole.Report

  6. Avatar Aaron David
    Ignored
    says:

    Imagine, if you will, a book sweeping the nation, called White Guilt. And it talks about how people born over a century after slavery felt as if they themselves were guilty of this, and this reaction was at the root of all Black Americas ills. And that we… no, you just need to let go of that guilt. Do you think this would be controversial?

    White Fragility is that book. Not in the specifics, mind you, but in the corrosive nature of what it purports to describe, and the terms used to make that description. See, unless you already agree with the general idea of DiAngello’s book, you are put off by the assumption that you feel guilty. “But that is the fragility” Well you would need to open with something better arranged than a circular argument because not only is that non-falsifiable, but because not everyone has the same race issues, not everyone has the same starting place or priors, that central argument fails a simple logic test if you are not in immediate agreement.

    The conceit behind the book is that we are all racist, and we can’t deal with confronting those feelings. It doesn’t matter if you are in a mixed marriage, you are a recent immigrant to the country or any other factor. It simply assumes that you suffer from the policy failure de jure.Report

    • Avatar InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      What we’re dealing with is the classical begging of the question fallacy. It assumes a bunch of conclusions and goes down the rabbit hole without stopping to assess whether those conclusions are actually true.

      And I say that as someone who sees no problem with basic instruction on the modern workplace. We can tell people there’s no longer a place for repeating that Andrew Dice Clay bit in the break room (God I feel old) or commenting on how anyone’s ass looks. None of this requires singling anyone out or creating novel questions of discrimination. And yet so many people seem bent on doing just that for… what end exactly?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        The goals really have to be specific to the work place and the purpose of the work place. As I said above, in schools we need more than guidelines for how we talk to each other.

        Again, I haven’t read diFranco’s work but I have read about it. Based on that and my own experiences leading DEI work, I can make certain assumptions about where she may be coming from. There were times we put “Diversity” as the topic for a PD day and lost people before the day even began. Folks rolled their eyes and said, “Here we go again.” And I got it. I’d been through bad diversity trainings myself. [We’ve all seen “The Office” clip, which has now worked its way into trainings as a way to say, “Hey, that’s not how we’re going to do it today!”]. And I’ve been through ones that were good but challenging and discomforting, sometimes feeling like I just wasn’t up to the task of another one.

        I can imagine doing that work for years or decades could lead one to conclude, “Damn, white folks are just so fragile! We can’t even get through the first activity!” And that isn’t necessarily wrong but it isn’t necessarily right either.

        One of the best trainers of trainers I saw spoke about how this work needs to happen at various levels but inevitably ends up at the personal level for most folks. So saying, “Let’s talk about institutional racism,” is going to legitimately sound to most white folks as, “Let’s talk about your racist ass.” So, the irony become that one of the goals of these sessions (“Let’s explore intent versus impact!”) was ignored by the folks leading the sessions (“But I *intended* to talk about institutional racism, not individual racism!”).

        Most folks will always shy away from that which discomforts and challenges them. But some of us have the privilege (GASP! He said privilege!) to consistently be able to do so.

        Conversations about race (or sex or gender or sexual orientation or religion) are hard and uncomfortable for EVERYONE. But failing to have those conversations yields not just discomfort but actual harm to many many folks, most of them already marginalized. So, somehow, we have to find a path to lean into and work through the discomfort of the conversations to realize the immense gains that can come from those conversations. How does WF fit into all this? Again, I don’t know.Report

        • Avatar InMD
          Ignored
          says:

          Again, I agree with a lot of this. What’s appropriate for schools probably does look different than the work place. The missions of the institutions are different. Maybe one of the common threads though is that very few people are at K-12 or the daily grind by choice. They are there because either the state/their guardians or economic necessity says that they have to be. Now the academic setting probably has to go deeper by virtue of teaching the humanities. But it seems like if the goal is ‘no exclusion/sanction based on certain characteristics’ the most effective place to start for both is to treat it as a matter of conduct, not beliefs.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy
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            says:

            “But it seems like if the goal is ‘no exclusion/sanction based on certain characteristics’ the most effective place to start for both is to treat it as a matter of conduct, not beliefs.”

            I agree with this. But separating conduct from beliefs is difficult… both externally and internally.

            In a widget factory, the goal is making widgets. If Joe can assemble the widgets, well, that is the most important thing. It doesn’t matter if Joe is a racist and it’s not like Joe can assemble the widgets in a racially insensitive matter. They’re widgets.

            Now, Joe’s conduct matters. If Joe is racially insensitive towards his co-workers, that becomes a problem. And not just because of the “feelings police” or whatever. If the work place is an unhealthy one, its functions poorly. So, it is in the company’s best interest that Joe contribute to a healthy work environment. How they go about that can take a variety of routes.

            Education is a whole different ball of wax. I work in private schools. Let’s say the principal decides they want the history curriculum revamped to be more inclusive. The principal is aiming at conduct: change the curriculum. But we all know how that is going to interact with and intersect with teachers’ beliefs. And even if the principal never attempts to change their beliefs, that is how it is going to be received and that is where the battle is going to be waged. When they change math textbooks, there may be some grumbling but rarely does someone take offense or insist they do not believe in teaching math the way the new textbook does. But when it comes to anything related to diversity or identity, it’s near impossible to disentangle that.

            Imagine another scenario wherein a supervisor observes a teacher treating white and black students differently. Not explicitly, but extended observation shows a clear pattern. The supervisor wants to address the conduct but, again, where do you think the battle will be waged?

            So, in schools, the training almost has to target both conduct and beliefs because the former often flows from the latter and that is part of the work product. Which makes for a really thorny thicket to navigate.

            The widget factory? I would hope whatever DEI training they’re getting is substantially different than a school’s. It needs to be.

            Other workplaces mostly fall somewhere between the widget factory and the school and, as such, should have training appropriately fine tuned.Report

            • Avatar Ferny (y10nerd)
              Ignored
              says:

              My professional career is literally writing history curriculum and consulting for schools on history curriculum. And it’s really complicated. I also think on top of people maybe wanting a more inclusive environment, it also means tradeoffs – things that people used to like teaching, which also may have been traditionally considered important, are now being swapped for things teachers might not know or feel as important. And it is zero sum – you only have so many school days.

              My own hobby horse is that Latino history is basically non-existent in US history classes, with events like the Mexican-American War framed as “was it justified?” “Did it do more harm than good to the US?” as if a whole group of people (Mexicans) exist as objects in the background. But even outside of that, how many of me (Professsional curriculum writers from a Latino background) exist in education? DEI work is important particularly in schools because we always have to make these judgment calls and situatiating folks into thinking beyond their own specific identity is really important so that maybe it doesn’t take the mexican guy to say “hey, maybe we should teach the experiences of those peoples.’

              That said, so much DIE work is BAD and counter-productive that I want to strangle people. I’m seeing it in my grad program right now. Ugh.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird
              Ignored
              says:

              Kazzy, the point that the DEI training for schools is going to need to be different from in a factory is a good point. One of the problems is that the overwhelming majority of these conversations have taken place with the Education model in mind.

              This has the (unintended, I’m sure) outcome of DEI training privileging a handful of folks.

              A relevant article:

              What’s the goal? At the end of the day, we should have a measurable goal. And we should be able to compare today’s numbers to yesterday’s numbers and tomorrow’s numbers to both.

              If it turns out that our weird rules are resulting in higher segregation levels (see, for example, that article I always link to about San Francisco’s so-called “Apartheid Schools”), then we’ve found ourselves in a pickle.

              And if we’re unwilling to change even after we’ve compared the numbers of the last duration and seen that we’re going in one of the directions we don’t want to go in, it’d be easy for someone cynical like me to wonder if maybe the increased segregation wasn’t the point. (And the best part? It’s 100% completely above reproach. You can even accuse the people calling on you to change direction of being racist.)Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck
                Ignored
                says:

                Jaybird, you ask “what’s the measurable goal”, but I think that’s like asking what’s the measurable goal of religious worship. It’s not about converting the sinners, it’s about reinforcing the feeling among the elect that they made the right choice. if someone comes in and is saved, hey, that’s great, that’s what the Parable of the Prodigal Son is about, but to the intersectional zealot the DEI training is the goal. Whether it does anything or not is secondary.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                If that’s true, and I’m not sure it isn’t, then we have a situation where knowing more about DEI is likely to backfire.

                It’s in a place where the more you know about it, the less it works. But you have to know more than a little about it.

                So have the training, but make the training boring.Report

            • Avatar gabriel conroy
              Ignored
              says:

              I agree, Kazzy, that (for lack of a better word) conduct trumps beliefs but that conduct often intrudes on or is intermingled with beliefs so that it’s hard to separate.

              At my institution’s DEI initiative, some members of the initiative seem, to my observation, to be advocating personal transformation rather than addressing workplace practices. That might be an unfair (by me) characterization of what they’re advocating, but to the extent I’m right, I think they’re mistaken. That said, I could and probably should do some personal transforming.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                This circles back to what we discuss above: if folks WANT to transform, well, hell, give ’em some tools. But personal transformation shouldn’t be a professional expectation, unless it actually intersects with the person’s professional goals.

                A phrase I increasingly find myself gravitating towards (which I stole from the “esteemed” Dr. Drew) is that habit comes before virtue.

                I often think about it in terms of trying to “life a healthy lifestyle”. We’ve all had that moment (or moments) where we say, “Tomorrow’s the day! Eating right, sleeping well, exercising! Tomorrow I start being a HEALTHY PERSON!” And by noon they’re scarfing Doritos. Because one doesn’t become a healthy person overnight. That is the virtue.

                What is MORE LIKELY to work is you say, “My fat ass is going to walk for 10 minutes today. And the next day. And the next.” And then next week you cut back on desserts. And on and on. And you hate it. But then maybe you don’t. And if you do it enough and don’t hate it enough, maybe it becomes part of who you are. Maybe not.

                If the goal is that everyone at work is a woke warrior, the goal is a bad one and will fail. And possibly backfire.

                If instead the goal is that all the history teachers include units on Latino history and do so sincerely, well, that is achievable. And, hell, to Jaybird’s point, probably even measurable (“How did the students perform last year on an exam of Latino history? How did they perform this year?”)

                Is a unit on Latino history going to save us all? No. Is it a step in the right direction? Yep. There ya go, you did your 10 minute walk.Report

              • Avatar gabriel conroy
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s a good way of framing it. (But I’ll never give up my doritos!)Report

              • Avatar InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Just noticing this, great comment Kazzy.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      I might not completely agree with your comment, Aaron, but I do agree there’s something like a circular argument in DiAngelo’s thesis (though, again, I haven’t read the book). What’s more: you touch on the ad hominem nature of white fragility.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq
    Ignored
    says:

    For the most part, there is a general consensus that a diverse society is good or at least unavoidable at this point and that racism is bad. We just get into endless debates about what is a true diverse society and what it means or doesn’t mean to be racist. Or as somebody put it on LGM, is every white person that fails to totally support the full policy program of BLM a racist? Are cis-gendered people that have some doubts about gender being a social construct alone transphobic. The thing is that you have a lot of different groups with different ideas of what constitutes a just society. Everybody wants their view to prevail so that we can reach utopia.Report

    • Avatar Ferny (y10nerd)
      Ignored
      says:

      Yeah. The utopia thing is real. I’m generally skeptical of ever reaching it and I’m also pretty comfortable with the idea that my views might remain a minority.

      Also, hum, if in going to post here more, maybe I should just use my general political tag instead of my name.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq
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        says:

        The idea of everybody in the world coming to the same conclusions on what utopia is seems more like from dystopia than utopia from me. You need a lot of repression and restraints on individual thought to get to that place.Report

    • Avatar Damon
      Ignored
      says:

      “For the most part, there is a general consensus that a diverse society is good ” I think that’s a bad assumption, because I don’t think it actually is. I think there is some serious issues with a very diverse group living together. Remember, humans are, by definition, tribal. Anyone who doesn’t look and act like you is cause for concern/suspicion.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        That could be the case but human geography has always been very messy, so creating a bunch of homogeneous societies is only possible with a combination of forced resettlement, ethnic cleansing, and even outright genocide that is magnitudes worse. There are very few pure homogeneous areas in the world. So simply assuming that a diverse society is good is still for the best because the alternative is way worse.Report

        • Avatar InMD
          Ignored
          says:

          I think this is closer to the mark. There have been cosmopolitan societies before even if ours ups the ante in some important ways, particularly with our form of government and history of large scale immigration. Forget good or bad, it just is and we have to find a way to manage it without destroying ourselves.Report

    • Avatar veronica d
      Ignored
      says:

      Are cis-gendered people that have some doubts about gender being a social construct alone transphobic.

      Certainly some aspects of our sex/gender system are socially constructed, as different societies handle them differently. That said, there probably are at least some differences between men and women that develop prenatally, perhaps due to hormonal differences during development.

      The key, I think, is a certain amount of humility when facing these issues. I find a generally tolerant attitude to be best. For example, if a kid likes to play with toy trucks, is that because of “social conditioning” or “testosterone brain”? My answer: who cares! Provided the kid is cool while they play with trucks, it’s all good.

      Gender can be oppressive. It can also be a delight. The key in a just society is to diminish the oppressive aspects and encourage the delightful aspects. Moreover, this has to be rather individual.Report

  8. Avatar greginak
    Ignored
    says:

    I get that WF is taken as the entirety of efforts to tackle race issues because why wouldn’t people gravitate towards what seems to be the worst example of it. That’s just people. But WF seems to be more an example of shallow consultant oriented training then anything else. There are all sorts of this kind of thing, WF is just aimed at race.

    Dealing well with a diverse workplace or people is a continuing issue. A nifty seminar might be a nice start but doesn’t add up to much unless most/all of the people and structures commit to it.

    FWIW i’ve had plenty of this kind of training since in the mental health/social services fields working well with a diverse population is vital. Never had WF presented or anything like it. Never had all the other so so scary theories like CRT presented. Never seen a white person melt down in a training though i certainly believe it’s happened from seeing how some white people deal with diversity.Report

  9. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t always like the term white fragility. The term feels like it can backfire by its very aggressive sounding nature. On the other hand, it seems to me that a lot of our current political mess and fight is because the Republican Party in many parts of the United States is the de facto party for white people. Not everywhere and there are non-white Republicans but it seems to me that in large sections of the country, white people just default to Republican politics unless they have some other identifier which puts them in the not-quite white category.

    There is also a lot of downplaying of concerns of minorities regarding safety. This happened here when I said I need to take the Michigan militia types as a potential harm because of my Jewishness.Report

    • Avatar superdestroyer
      Ignored
      says:

      The more conservative party is always going to be seen as the “white party” because every conservative policy proposal is immediately called racist by the left side of the Democratic Party. When 95% of blacks automatically vote for Democrats and are some of the most liberal voters in the U.S. no other situation can exist.

      If the U.S. is not going to have a white people’s party, then the U.S. will have to have only one political party where the primaries are the real election. Will blacks and Latinos be happy living in a one party state where elections do not ever change policy or governance?Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      For the record, whatever else my disagreements with you might be, I do agree that these militia types adopt a very strident antisemitic line and probably want to target Jews. I don’t blame you at all for your attitude toward them.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird
        Ignored
        says:

        I’m not denying the existence of antisemitism in these groups, I’m denying the train of thought that takes a person from “Rod Dreher was complaining about gay Oreos” to “these militias probably agree with him” to “antisemitism” in a thread about a militia member going to the FBI about fellow militia members wanting to kidnap the non-Jewish Governor of Michigan.Report

        • Avatar gabriel conroy
          Ignored
          says:

          I’m not commenting which ways the original comment was or wasn’t a propos of the discussion. I’ve only skimmed that thread. I didn’t read it fully. And what I did read, I read roughly around the time it was written. If there’ve been elaborations since then, I didn’t read them. And therefore I’m not necessarily critiquing your argument.

          Instead, I’m commenting that I need to sometimes stand up for acknowledging what others are feeling when there’s yet another remind that there exists a group of people who would like to kill those others. I don’t do that often and certainly not often enough.

          I am suggestingReport

  10. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    See, a lot of the commentary about white fragility is white people talking to other white people about white people’s feelings of insecurity, and how to change white people’s attitudes without white people lashing out in anger. And white people setting out terms, demands which must be met in order for white people to accept diversity.

    Again, as if this is optional, and as if white people will forever be the ones deciding these things, or as if white people will forever be able to demand that diversity training be like this, or accommodate that, or else we will refuse to accept it.

    Am I the only one here who lives in a majority-minority world, where the whip hand of power is held by nonwhite, non-Christian people? Where the majority comes from cultures where Dec. 25 is just an ordinary workday? Where the mother tongue is not English, but they will translate for the ones who don’t speak The Language?

    The thing about being in the minority is that you don’t get to demand anything. As a minority you don’t get to dictate how the company should address this or that.

    I think the best thing white people can do is to stop insisting that the world be arranged according to our terms.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      December 25 might not be the best example because a lot of countries decided they like secular Christmas and turn it into a bit of a holiday.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        I once worked on a very large project, where the client was a Chinese firm, and the client worked out of her office in Shanghai. The design team had around 20 some architects, over half of whom were Asian.
        They chatted among themselves (in Mandarin of course) and decided that they would work on Dec. 25 in exchange for taking the Tet holiday off.
        I came back to work on Jan 2, to see a long string of emails to and from the team over the Christmas break.

        Part of it was very pleasant, the “food and festival” diversity where they cheerfully explained to us the customs and rituals of Tet.

        But the underlying point was that they didn’t have to be pleasant or polite about it.

        There are plenty of Buddhists, Muslims, and Hindus who are every bit as chauvinistic about their culture as any Christian. And there could have been all sorts of subtle pressure on me to come to work over the holiday.

        But these were tolerant, liberal people, so they respected my culture.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq
      Ignored
      says:

      Besides what Saul said, Christmas isn’t the best example because white fragility refers to White Americans dealing with African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans in particular, not non-whites in general. These groups are very Christian.Report

    • Avatar gabriel conroy
      Ignored
      says:

      I think the best thing white people can do is to stop insisting that the world be arranged according to our terms.

      If given a moment, I might be able to think of better things to do. Even if that is the “best” thing, it’s understandable that it would be sometimes uncomfortable, no?Report

  11. Avatar Mike Schilling
    Ignored
    says:

    Next can we do Christian fragility? I mean, if you think being wished “Happy Holidays” is persecution …Report

  12. Avatar Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    I have been called out once in the real world, 37 years ago. It was embarrassing, because I was in the wrong. I’ve been called racist online dozens of time, and it bothers me because I find the accusation so offensive, because I find the act so offensive. But the fact that I know the accuser is wrong affects how I take it, which is generally an I-don’t-care with a side of go-pound-sand.

    That’s probably the missing key in the question of white fragility: the question of whether the accusation is true.. I doubt that the flummoxed white woman was racist at all. It hurts to be accused of something subconscious. It’s unsettling to be told that the image others have of you isn’t the image you have of yourself. The woman responded in a fragile way probably because she was overwhelmed by the idea that she’d hurt someone. The angry white man had his hackles up because he was presumably in a racial training session. It’s uncomfortable, and people get defensive. It doesn’t help that he was factually wrong.

    We’re never going to have a neutral discussion of race because it’s a sensitive subject. But that’s a good thing. It means that people take it seriously. I hate that I’m calloused over on race, because I’d want to be called out if I were in the wrong. I self-monitor on that subject because I consider racism to be a vice. There are a lot of people who don’t self-monitor, and I worry about that.Report

  13. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    Thanks, all, for reading. It might be a day or two before I can read your comments and (maybe) respond.Report

  14. Avatar gabriel conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    I want to thank everyone here for a fascinating, productive discussion. I appreciate your participation.Report

  15. Avatar Gabriel Conroy
    Ignored
    says:

    Pinky, down here!

    I don’t want to get too theological on this, but I’m sure we’ll be fighting racism for thousands of years. The lingering question is whether / how to identify it outside of one’s own heart.

    I really like this comment. (I admit, though, I’m probably taking it out of context, as I’ve only skimmed the subthread from which it came.)

    Speaking only for myself, one of the reasons that the idea of white fragility, and other notions of racism, ring true to me is that I do see the racism in myself. It’s not only de facto racism that good white liberal-leaning people sometimes are guilty of, it’s also many other, more actively malicious, things that I choose to do and think. Of course, one problem is, that I can’t see into any other person’s heart. As you point out, that’s a hard thing to do.Report

    • Avatar Pinky
      Ignored
      says:

      Where? Where? (pivots head like a poodle hearing a distant whistle)

      We’re probably on the same page here. I may think that there’s virtually no institutional racism in the US today, but I have no doubt that racism is a creepy thing, which means that it or something like it lingers in our hearts. Twenty or a thousand years from now we’ll still be fighting it at a minimum in our hearts, and it’ll probably be more dominant in our institutions than it is today.Report

      • Avatar Dark Matter
        Ignored
        says:

        a thousand years from now we’ll still be fighting it at a minimum in our hearts

        Religion can be stable over that period of time, but race probably will not be. We’ll get full genetic engineering and then race will purely be a matter of choice.Report

        • Avatar Pinky
          Ignored
          says:

          The race of your offspring has always been a matter of choice, outside of war zones. But even if genetic engineering gives us the potential to eliminate race, don’t most people want their kids to carry on their genes? Don’t you believe that in-group preferences are natural? I’d expect the first generation of modified humans to look just like their parents except for comically large penises.Report

    • Avatar Dark Matter
      Ignored
      says:

      one of the reasons that the idea of white fragility, and other notions of racism, ring true to me is that I do see the racism in myself

      And how much of the inequality pie do you think this level of “racism” creates?Report

  16. Avatar Kristin Devine
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    says:

    I enjoyed this greatly Gabriel! Thanks for writing it!Report

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