What do I think of Robin DiAngelo’s book published by Beacon Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Multiple thoughts go through one’s head reading this book. I think of the trick Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay did where they wrote a paper that was absolute nonsense as they intended and got it published to show how lacking the academy is with publishing. Reading DiAngelo’s book, I wonder if it was one of those papers.
Then I think of the Life of Brian. In one scene in the movie, Brian is being followed by a crowd who is convinced he’s the Messiah. He denies it and is told that the true Messiah will always deny that he is the Messiah. Then when he says he is the Messiah, everyone jumps and says he is the Messiah.
I also think of presuppositionalism and see this book as a form of that. The author starts out with the assumption that all white people are racist. If they agree with that, they are working on their racism. If they disagree, that demonstrates their racism. No matter what the response, they are racist.
At the start, on page 15, she says race, like gender, is socially constructed. With this one claim, I think her whole thesis goes up in flames. Could a white person not just say that they are really a black person born in a white person’s body? You might think that sounds ridiculous, but if a person can be misgendered at birth, why not misraced?
Throughout the book, DiAngelo keeps switching definitions of racism and is not clear what kind she is talking about. She does say being a racist doesn’t mean a hate-filled racist automatically who actively hates black people. She sometimes does speak of Latinos, (Using the term Latinx which I’ve never seen a Latino person use) but her emphasis is on the black community.
The sad point is that when she does make some points that are valid, she’s already accused her audience enough that no one wants to listen to her. After all, she has started with her conclusion already and nothing anyone can say can change her mind so shut up and accept you’re a racist you bigot. The conclusion is here so who cares about the evidence?
There is a saying that if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. I also know the counterpart that if all you have is a hug, everything looks like a kitten. Unfortunately, in DiAngelo’s world, everything is racism. Not only that, every myth about racism she buys into. Michael Brown becomes an innocent victim even though he wasn’t.
The problem here is that racism is always being used so that nowadays, most people I encounter don’t really listen to the claims anymore. Everyone has to jump on the bandwagon. I recall seeing a liberal friend of mine on Facebook saying he had changed his mind on a case where a black man was shot by a cop and decided the police acted properly. What was the immediate charge made? Racism.
Yet if racism is not the problem at root, then we are not going to deal with the issues that are going on in this country properly. If anything, we could be making it worse and sadly, I think that is what DiAngelo is doing. She is contributing to a problem by making everything about race.
Not only that, she doesn’t interact with real problems that are going on. I don’t see anything in the book about how we need to deal with the problem of fatherlessness in the black community. There is nothing said about crime or gangs or the lyrics sang in much of the rap music today.
It’s a case often where the minority ruins it for the rest of us. Most people in the black community are not like that. Most people in the white community are not racists or white supremacists. Most men are not rapists.
Yet that is what is going on here as the majority are treated like the minority. What if I went and spoke to every woman like she was a golddigger wanting to use men and had that as my conclusion? What if I just assumed that every atheist had a burning hatred of God in their soul? What if I assumed every Muslim had a deep desire to be a terrorist and blow up and kill the infidel?
Such a situation would result in chaos, and yet DiAngelo has done that very thing. There is no doubt we can all improve the communication that we have between the races and the relationships that we have, but why assume racism is the problem? Why not ask all races why they respond to the others like they do? Then work with those answers.
If we picture this nation having a few people being a problem and those few representing a small fire that is burning, a book like this is pouring gasoline all over that. It will not help any problem, but it will heighten any supposed problem and make it worse. DiAngelo could have written a good book pointing out difficult issues and real problems and how to work on them, but instead she just straight to accusation every time. It’s not a shock people get defensive when they are accused and yet she has it that that demonstrates her case. In either situation, DiAngelo is right.
There is also a problem today that everyone is made responsible for everyone else’s feelings. We cannot make anyone feel miserable or feel happy. That is up to them. This is not to say we should be rude to people or anything of the sort, but it does say that when it comes to how someone feels, they must always own that. It is always something they can work on, no matter how difficult it may be. Unfortunately, our culture has a victim mentality going on where people seem to practically glorify in being victims when in turn, they actually become the perpetrators making real victims.
Do yourself a favor. Don’t read this. If you want better relations with a person of another race, just go and talk to them.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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