White Fragility — Book Review

Editor’s Note: On Friday, September 25, 2020 at 10 a.m. (Pacific), Adventist Forum invites you to join the first Friday Forum Book Group where Andy Lampkin, PhD, bioethics professor at AdventHealth University, and Mark Carr, MDiv, PhD, regional director of Ethics for Providence Health & Services, will discuss White Fragility.

This discussion will be hosted by Adventist Forum Board Chair Carmen Lau and board member Alexander Carpenter. Spectrum Journal Editor Bonnie Dwyer and SpectrumMagazine.org Managing Editor Alisa Williams will be conversation partners for the Friday Forum which seeks to promote community, value scholarship, and imagine ways for Adventists to live an abundant kingdom life together.

Registration required. Email Carmen at [email protected] for details. The event will also be live-streamed on the Spectrum Facebook page. Watch the website for a schedule of future Friday Forum events.


My emotions and critical thinking energies were swinging rapidly before I even made it to chapter one in Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism. She drags me into the world of “identity politics,” “white collective,” “dominant culture,” and “binary categories,” all the while insisting that because I am white, I am inescapably racist and supremacist. She has a way of unsettling me. This is her point of course. Her expressed effort is to “unsettle the racial status quo” (14) by asserting that white fragility holds “racism in place” (4, 5).

What is “white fragility”? It is “born of superiority and entitlement” and emerges from whites in a “range of defensive responses” to conversations that make whites uncomfortable. White Americans’ routine responses “work to reinstate white equilibrium as they repel the challenge, return our racial comfort, and maintain our dominance within the racial hierarchy” (2). This largely unconscious response is not stereotypically attributed to those whites who are or have been previously understood to be racist, even supremacist. Rather, it is white “progressives” who turn out to be the culprits here. White progressives “cause the most daily damage to people of color.” This is because those who think themselves to be so enlightened will put their “energy into making sure that others see” that they “have arrived” (5).

So begins DiAngelo’s march into the difficult and unsettling conversation of race, racism, and sociocultural realities of the United States today. Below, I will offer some criticisms, some affirmations, and finish with some lingering questions.


DiAngelo’s logic, writing, and assertions put me into a box from which I cannot escape. Normally, in substantive conversations, one can offer a counterpoint to an interlocutor that serves to probe, deepen, and fine tune the relevant learning points. I do not get the impression she is open to such dialogue in her work here. For instance, all white people in America (and Western European culture at large) are racist in her view. In laying out her argument, there is no escaping this for white readers. Similarly, all whites are supremacists simply by nature of the fact they were born and raised as whites in the “dominant” culture of America. Frankly, I’m not convinced that there is an “American culture” that is so easily defined. I have more coherence with my wife’s French culture than I do the culture of Mississippi or Georgia, for example. But as I noted, this doesn’t get me out of the racist and supremacist box that DiAngelo puts me in. Even if I try to offer a counterpoint to her arguments, I end up being a racist and supremacist; something I do not want to be. And now, after writing these last sentences, I have slid into the defensive, white progressive posture she so deftly exposes.

In order to build this box for her readers, she must expand the typical definition of being racist and supremacist. Her argument depends upon these expansions and it seems appropriate to me. In combination with her critique of Western/American individualism, she argues that racism is a “structure,” a “system.” “Everyone has prejudice, and everyone discriminates.” But “racism is a society-wide dynamic that occurs at the group level.” Specifically, in America, “only whites can be racist,” because “only whites have the collective social and institutional power and privilege over people of color” (20-22).

White supremacy is “the culture we live in.” It is a “culture that positions white people and all that is associated with them (whiteness) as ideal” (33). Whiteness is a “norm or standard” for humans from which all “people of color” deviate. This supremacy frames life for all people in America and DiAngelo’s point is that it is “so internalized, so submerged, that it is never consciously considered or challenged by most whites” (34).

I found myself longing for nuance in this book so I could find a place where I am not a bad guy. She never allows me this comfort. Surely, this is part of the reason that I am critical of her work. She is so quickly effective at putting me in that box and not allowing me wiggle room that I am frustrated by that. And maybe it is because I (and she) are bound by the good/bad binary (chapter 5) of our “dominant” white, privileged culture that turns out to be so fragile. The “good/bad binary” that is so commonplace today allows that racists and supremacists are “bad” people, while woke, progressive whites are “good.” White Fragility strips away this comfortable place for me to hide.

She does allow for a touch of nuance, some space within my box, by using the term salience in her author’s note. Under this saliency she says that “we all occupy multiple and interesting social positionalities.” These multiple positions and “identities” do not “cancel out one another; each is more or less salient in different contexts” (p. xvi-xvii). I can only hope to find myself among those whites DiAngelo refers to as “actively working to interrupt racism” (p. 125). But those whites who engage in such work are routinely marginalized by the more fragile white culture. Nonetheless, some “sincere white people… agonize over when and how to give feedback to a fellow white person.” Count me among those white people. I have agonized many times yet remained all too silent.  

DiAngelo unavoidably comes off as arrogant and condescending toward those “sincere white people.” Perhaps, however, she falls victim to her own boxes as she becomes one of the few who really, truly is woke. She, it seems, stands alone among white progressives who really understand what it takes to honestly face racism in America. She, unlike others who remain unconscious to their racism and supremacist culture, is aware, open, and ready to deal. White opinions on race and racism are “necessarily uninformed, even ignorant,” except of course, her own (8). Indeed, those who “claim not to be prejudiced are demonstrating a profound lack of self-awareness” (19).

Yes, she has lots of experience engaging in difficult conversations about race and racism in America. But in placing so much value in her own experience she falls trap to her own box by thinking — no, asserting — that her experience is the norm. She admits to being overly generalizing but comfortable with it because she is a sociologist (11). In asserting that all whites in America are racist and supremacist she, thankfully, wants her readers to know that she is not accusing anyone of being “immoral” (13). I must admit to being befuddled by this. This is more than shaking up the status quo. By making me inescapably racist and supremacist she alienates me and convinces me all at once.


There is much about her work here that I affirm. First, her effort to expand whites’ understanding of racism and supremacy are important. She argues for her position well and again forcibly puts the reader into this expanded frame. To the extent that readers accept this, they will be moved, their equilibrium will be upset, and thus she will fulfill her purpose.

Second, I am able to compare and contrast my own experience of talking about race and racism in classrooms and clinical contexts through the years. It is remarkably similar to my own in that the defensiveness she identifies is consistent with what I’ve found among whites. In both casual and formal conversations, even before I’m done introducing the questions, my interlocutors jump to hackneyed attacks and counter points. As a diversity trainer, DiAngelo “was taken aback by how angry and defensive so many white people became at the suggestion that they were connected to racism in any way” (2). The anger was coupled with refusal to “acknowledge any advantage to being white” (3).

Associated with this anger is the complexity of blending individual and collective orientation to racism. I have found many of my fellow whites attempt to excuse themselves because they, individually, have no direct connection to American slavery, racism, or supremacy. Their response illustrates DiAngelo’s assertion that American individualism allows an escape for most whites, feeble though it may be.

Finally, and it may be a bit of an aside, her brief comments on judging and speaking to one’s truth are welcome. In the chapter on the “good/bad binary” she asserts that it is “impossible” not to judge others. She notes the frequent white rejoinder that “I was taught to treat everyone the same.” Those who are the recipients of this rejoinder are not supposed to judge those who engage in white, defensive fragility. No one, she thinks, wants to be judged a racist but given our thoroughly supremacist white dominant culture it is impossible to avoid “implicit bias” (81-82). I agree simply due to the fact that this is what the human mind does; it compares, it contrasts, it places one’s self in contradistinction to others, etc. What is to be avoided is being judgmental, namely, after engaging in normal discerning judgment we must avoid taking a moralist, arrogant, exclusionary stance that seeks to condemn the other.

I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard someone say they needed to be true to him/herself by speaking to their truth. DiAngelo will have none of this. First, it is apparent that most whites are not hesitant to speak up and claim “their truth.” The white claim of being “color blind” is “not a truth; it is a false belief.” Any guideline that positions “beliefs as truths and, as such, equally valid” is to be rejected. Important to antiracism work is the recognition that “all perspectives are not equally valid; some are rooted in racist ideology and need to be uncovered and challenged.” What should be “challenged” is a simple statement of one’s “beliefs as truths” (127).

Lingering Questions

DiAngelo leaves me with some lingering questions. The first is to ask what kind of a problem we are facing. Is it a problem of human nature or a specifically American problem? Obviously, she is focused on American white racism and supremacy. But ethnic suppression and supremacy is not unique to the United States or Western Culture in general. I was reading Colum McCann’s pseudo-historical novel, Apeirogon while writing this review. The novel is based upon the true lives of Israeli Jew, Rami Elhanan, and Palestinian Muslim, Bassam Aramin. McCann explores the similarly tragic depths of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict through the lives of these two men and their families. The book adds to my list of reasons why I think racism is a human problem rather than solely an American one. We cannot allow this inclination to blunt the impact of DiAngelo’s effort to shake up the status quo of racism in American white fragility. My effort to expand the conversation and attention to the broader human problem is simply part of my white, progressive, supposedly woke, and self-defensive efforts to return to my status quo.

A second question is likely more manageable or at least more practical. Given the expansion of the definitions of racism and supremacy that DiAngelo establishes, how can whites write credible books on racism in the United States today? Doesn’t her extension of the definitions of racism and supremacy completely eviscerate this possibility? How does one overcome and emerge from a culture that is so engulfing as to make it impossible for white children in America to grow up free of racism and supremacy? Regardless of the answer, I am challenged personally to take the courage to have conversations about race with those willing to talk, particularly whites.

A third question I have ponders the realities of a “post-truth” and “alternative facts” society. Is it just a temporary anomaly or is it here to stay? In a day and age when one’s opinion is as “true” as anyone else’s, who is able to be the arbiter of conflict? How does a society slither out from under the horror of white racism and supremacy when we can’t even agree on whether or not the earth is a globe or flat? Doesn’t such lunacy force us into being users of a power to suppress idiocy for the greater good? Alas, I fall into the trap of arrogance. 

A fourth question comes by way of comparison with how I have imagined my conversation over the years with those of different religions or religious convictions. May I treat race similarly to how I treat religion? May I grant to others the passion and fire of their faith convictions even when they include feeling superior to me, even consigning me to hell? As long as they can hear others at the table who are similarly passionate and don’t devolve to violence, isn’t it possible for disparate parties to maintain their passionate positions? Is it wrong for me to want Black, brown, yellow, and white people to all feel they are the universal standard, they are the most amazing and unique and beautiful people on the face of the earth? Again, just as long as they also allow me to feel that way. Shouldn’t it be this way?

Setting aside my lingering questions (they are diversions), I assert with DiAngelo that it is long past time for whites and particularly white progressives to stop hiding behind half-hearted, comfortable conversations with amenable others. Whatever problems I have with her style or experience, her point should be supported; the status quo must be upset.

Giving DiAngelo the final word, in full accord:

“I have found it much more useful to think of myself as on a continuum. Racism is so deeply woven into the fabric of our society that I do not see myself escaping from that continuum in my lifetime. But I can continually seek to move further along it. I am not in a fixed position on the continuum; my position is dictated by what I am actually doing at a given time. Conceptualizing myself on an active continuum changes the question from whether I am or am not racist to a much more constructive question: Am I actively seeking to interrupt racism in this context? And perhaps even more importantly, how do I know?” (87)


Mark F. Carr, MDiv, PhD, is regional director of Ethics for Providence Health & Services.

Book cover image courtesy of Beacon Press.


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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10729
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It seems to me that we are what we behold. If we constantly focus on racism we become more racist. I like to focus on humans as Gods creation and the freedoms He has given us. Terms and phrases such as “white supremacy”, “blm”, “systemic racism”, etc. only keep us focusing on ethnicity differences which in turn keeps from seeing the light of Gods creation. In truth, we all are equal and in truth we all have some kind of prejudice. Let us move forward and focus on God and His creation.


Imma gonna bet no time soon will this far left rag ever do a column on male fragility. Before you dismiss gender as separate from race, not so fast. Biases (primariy ageism-a very tragic form of bias-, gender and race comprise the three basic discrimination "isms"and all three share the same basic psychological convolutions and characteristics.

After all, a many millenia entrenched systemic male supremacist system has endowed men (even those most vociferously plaintive, carrying unholy water for the racism redefinition brigade) with unmistakable power, fame, sex, profit privileges -to a degree that pales the relatively milquetoast weak argument of the current black struggle.

Nothing I said above is to be construed to mean race doesn’t matter-just that in the grander scheme, the gender bias should matter more. Further, given that the US has done so much more (some nations do nothing) than any other nation to redress the issue and fought a bloody war to end it, spent untold hundreds of billions to attempt to level the field. Not only is this not working, apparently, the system itself usurps some 2/3’s of these monies for “administrative reasons”.

Spectrum is so alt left on any number of issues such that truth in advertising should require it to change its name.

Young fragility-that too should go over real well in our breathless utopian millennial liberal world dontcha think? After all, what is applied to the newcomer bias (race) also applies to these biases.
Should we have a civil war, and burgeoning financial handouts for the equality of elderly rights and women?

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Couldn’t agree more, and I personally have seen the kinds of defensive responses described by DiAngelo when attempting to have such discussions with fellow Whites. This is not an easy issue to personally confront, especially, when so many, like myself, were raised believing I and my family were colorblind. It is hard to come to the point of realizing that being colorblind is worse than a myth and gets in the way of seeing the monolithic white supremacist system our nation has constructed and maintained.


Wow…that’s gotta be one of the best opening paragraphs I’ve ever read from a white guy, writing a review on a book about racism.

Absolutely hilarious. I love it.

In the words of the late Albert Johnson:

Keep them shook crews runnin’, like they supposed to
They come around, but they never come close to
I can see it inside your face, you’re in the wrong place
Cowards like you just get they whole body laced up….


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Thanks, Mark. Nice essay. Difficult but important issues.


Thanks for an honest review and trying to be fair to both sides of the equation. New ideas and defining are always difficult to think and talk about. Challenging current thoughts or ideas, at least to me, means progress not standing in place.


Thank you Mark for an honest and refreshing book review that doubles as a confession for your own struggle. My daughter who is the CEO of a health care system in rural Maine heard her present and is currently engaged in a major effort to deal with diversity in her employee base. She has hired several black providers and is learning from them how much work needs to be done in a culture and environment overwhelmingly non-black (there are asians, for example). What is interesting, however, that they have become so accustomed to the unintentional “slights” (may be too harsh a term) by well-meaning colleagues, that it “rolls off.” Example upon meeting colleagues for the first time: “Welcome. You need to meet X, Y, Z. They would love to get acquainted with you” (they are also black). What strikes me is that we as individuals may be far less “racist” as mature adults than we were when younger, less informed and inexperienced. But, we still exemplify, participate in, and unwittingly support the systemic realities. A lawyer friend of mine once complained that affirmative action (legally flawed in his opinion) for universities kept him out of his first law school choice, something that felt very “wrong” to him. I understand that. Some apparently “unjust” experiences for the individual are part of the larger commitment to systemic justice. As I see it, that cannot be changed until persons of color wield as much power in the system as whites enjoy.


So we want honest conversation, do we? Let’s do then…

Navel gazing of whatever color is never time well spent, and there’s a lot of it in the present “status quo”. With all this emphasis on white systemic, and genetic racism somebody please list all the ways white people can change the effect of this racism. Other than never arresting another black person, and turning some percent of white income over to the nearest black person, it seems we’re doomed in living in this “status quo” and endlessly discussing it. I’m angry because there’s no action, other than destruction of property, even black property. In less volatile communities handwringing has dominated all conversations. This can’t be healthy for neither blacks or whites.


Well…given the fact that it may be the only opening paragragh you’ve read from “white guy writing a review on a book about racism,” I’ll take that as a qualified complement. May I assume there is more to that passage from Albert Johnson, aka Prodigy? I tried to find the lyrics but could only identity “Shook Ones, Part I and II.” I would like to see the rest of the passage/poem/rap if possible. Thanks.

Hi Jim, Sooooo many of those “slights” or as I think the term is used, micro aggressions. Being in ethics and hearing so many students and professionals over the years use the phrase, “I’m a black and white thinker,” meaning of course, black is bad, white is good, I have found that this is one microaggression that I try not to let go by. So, when I say in the review that I need to engage the courage to wade into the conversation on racism, this is a simple example. I once heard a children’s story in Church that highlighted for the children the differences in lying: “Now children…there are white lies and there are black lies…” The storyteller went on to note of course that white ones are justifiable and black ones are not. I saw several faces of color in the group of children and in telling my colleague Andy Lampkin about this story, I asked him if he ever tuned into such language as a type of slight as you say Jim, or microaggression. In his kindly way, he asked me where I had been for all these years…I hope you’ll be able to join us next Friday for a live conversation about the White Fragility book. He and I will join Carmen, Bonnie, and Alisa for a one hour book review.

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Sirje, two rather small examples of my own in trying to make a difference where one lives and works: develop and implement a policy on responding to racist patients and developing an educational series on racism at work. I am in the the position of power such that I can affect both. I don’t know if you are in health care or not but perhaps some of the readers here are. How many of the places we work have policies on responding to patients/persons who engage in racist attacks on nursing, physician, and other staff members? I’ll bet the answer is “none.” It took me a year and a half to get one in place. And now, working on the moment and momentum of this time in our country’s experience with Black Lives Matters, a colleague and I (again because we are in the positions that allow us the power to create such things) are developing a seminar series of indefinite length in time focused on racism in our hospital. Mind you, we do not believe we should be presenting but we can create and facilitate such conversations. If they turn out to be difficult or even rancorous, so be it.

Hi, @Arkdrey: I didn’t see this response before the forum closed, and, as you invited me to, I do care to try again.

I’ve decided that this section on White Fragility would be a good place to place it, for reasons that should become obvious.

Well, you may want to consult yours.

Which, given what you’ve just said, would be…wait for it…wait for it…


You’re not responding to my objection.

What you should say is, “Duly noted.” You should not try to dance around what I’ve said, while, actually, repeating my conclusion.

I haven’t read ahead, and, as I intimated, before, almost never do.

I hope, then, that, as we go through this, your arguments get better, not worse.

That’s your response? :slightly_smiling_face:

You’re turning into @ajshep. No wonder you were both trading doofus snaps!


You must not have read through my response before you wrote this.

Go back, read what I said, near the end, then go at it again, please.

There, I state that racism and race, originally, from their inception, meant white vs. non-white. Race was invented to distinguish white people from non-white people.

It is only through a kind of colloquial application of the term that people came to say that a Black person having a conflict with a Korean grocer is “racism,” or that an Indian who detests Pakistanis, or, worse, Sri Lankans, has “racist” feelings.

You appear to not know enough about the history of race. If so, this is why you can talk about “original meaning” of the word, but not actually do so.

It’s like you’re a hip-hop fan, hearing an R&B record that was sampled by one of your favorite crews, and you’re upset, wondering why this R&B group bit your boys.

See above.

I thought that you were serious. :face_with_monocle:

Also, to make this a tad personal, it sounds like you, a foreigner, are telling a native English speaker—and a writer!—how English works.

Is that what’s happening here? :neutral_face:

Both of your claims are nonsense and merely argumentative.

You said:

Do you mean no scientist would say that the universe is primarily baryonic matter?

Or do you mean no scientist would say that the visible universe is 98% hydrogen and helium, and 2% everything else?

My goodness: As a person who regularly talks to physicists, this may be one of the most ill-informed things I’ve ever read. It’s absolutely not a meaningful response, Arkdrey. This must be what desperation smells like. :grimacing:

Thankfully, our posts can be compared by objective 3rd parties at future times, in order to see who made sense and who did not. It’s clear that our other members are ill-equipped to adjudicate this.

From the description of Peter Woit’s eponymous book:

The legendary physicist Wolfgang Pauli had a phrase for such ideas: He would describe them as “not even wrong,” meaning that they were so incomplete that they could not even be used to make predictions to compare with observations to see whether they were wrong or not.

This is how what you’re writing reads, Arkdrey: Not even wrong.

These are just horrible, desperate responses.

If you want to refute what I’m saying, you’ve got to actually challenge what I’m saying, and give good, rational, historically meaningful answers.

My goodness. You should have just left well enough alone.

You mean, in the 1500s, when the Portuguese started making trips to Africa, that’s what racism was?




You’re getting to the point where your answers and conceptions are bordering on “Not Worth Responding To.”

Keep in mind: I say that as a guy who answers each question, and typically responds to every statement.

You’re just saying that, because you can make the words go together in order. :drooling_face:

On the contrary, I made an argument: I said that the words race and racism enter the vocabulary of human beings in order to describe a specific activity, organized by a then new piece of logic: “Whiteness.”

Please re-read what I said.

Wow: I was not expecting this.

Your original post was really very good. I even said so.

This is just slop. It’s like you’re holding on to the barn walls by your nails.

Antisemitism should be limited exclusively to Semites.

In other words, it’s different than racism in this way: You can’t be anti-semitic against anyone, but anyone can be anti-semitic.

Racism is the opposite: You can only be a racist if you’re white, because it is part of white heritage, and they have never given it up. THAT’S why business is a-boomin’: They’ve been the longest at what they started.

If you’re white, you can only be racist against non-white people. That’s why, for example, you can’t be white and racist against white people. It doesn’t even make sense.

They’re only unanalogous if a) you don’t see the analogy, b) see it, but don’t want to see it, or c) have some kind of silly rule about what can be analogized.

Why would I do that? :laughing:

If my analogies really don’t work, you should be able to show me in one sentence how. It’s not my problem if you don’t understand them. It’s not even my problem if you they’re “non-analogous.”

If my ideas are logically incoherent, you don’t even have to address the analogies. When you destroy the underlying logic, the analogy falls, too. What are you talking about?

This is stupid. Of course you can. I just did it in my answer, to you.

I said racism had one meaning, originally. It did. It had one mode. It was made to describe one thing.

This is a historical fact. Do you think when Japan closed its borders to outsiders in 1635, the Dutch called them “racist”?

The only people, since the origin of race as a notion, who’ve said it had a different meaning are a) the people who don’t experience racism, or, b) the people who listen to them.

Non-white people understand that racism is white supremacy very readily, almost intuitively. When I say it, it’s rarely a problem. Only Black people who are tightly associated with white people—as friends, lovers, frat & sorors, business associates, etc.—hem and haw a bit. But, in my experience, they don’t do this because they think I’m wrong. They do it because they think I’m right.

It’s only white people who always have a real, serious problem with this formulation. I wonder why.

That they do, or may, is irrelevant to the analogy.

Clearly, people prefer the other look, because it exists.

No one who prefers the other look, however, will tell you that the car started that way. Even if you HATE the way Silvias look, unmodified, anyone who drifts will admit that that is the way his car started.

Also, a note: You need to write more simply. It’s clear you have a good mind, but your writing is a nightmare on Elm St.


I’d rather just hand:

a) Your original post

b) My response, and

c) Your counter-response

to a disinterested 3rd party historian with a knowledge of racial history, and ask them who they think wore it better.

Care to try again?


Why would it be the “only” one, when I said it was “one of the best”? :face_with_monocle: You’ve got to read more closely, Mark. :wink:

But it is the only one, that I recall, where the writer describes something akin to a fight-or-flight response when engaging the work.

A friend of mine once said that the reason horror films can be so exciting to Black people is that a) they’re so visually hyperbolic, and b) it’s white people getting done in, on-screen.

I think, in a similar sense, the vision of white people being emotionally disquieted by White Fragility, to some Black people, provides momentary repose.

Not, usually, for me, because I’ve seen a lot of this, and I know it’s momentary. But your text was definitely attention-getting. :grinning:

You can read the lyrics to Mobb Deep’s 1995 masterpiece, here.


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I must say that those contrasts have bothered me, but not nearly (apparently) as they did you, to my shame. However, “evil” being portrayed almost always in “black” and “purity/goodness” in white, has profoundly troubled me for decades. Even the Bible (pre-racism as we know it) talks about our “sins as white as snow,” implying they were certainly anything but white before. Scriptural references to the “darkness of ignorance” and the “light of truth,” and so on–endless. Baked into our “beings” in ways we cannot consciously realize until we are “done” (to continue the baking analogy).

Having said that, I must tell you that at this point in US history and even in my life, I am drawn to the black church (not just SDA) to hear the unadulterated message of Jesus to our contemporary world. One year ago D and I visited the MLK Jr. memorial museum and church in Atlanta, the pulpit his father once occupied. We got there at 10 and were whisked by a young mother into the “breakfast” for visitors before the service begins. Welcomed warmly and people even “thrilled” we were there, smiles all around, thier spirit of fellowship and unity sends chills through me as I write this. The service? Oh my.

My wife noticed so many “pink” fashion statements on men and women and said: “Is this Breast Cancer Awareness” week? For at least 20 minutes between music you can hardly imagine, a video was shown. Two women and one man from the congregation who had battled breast cancer told their stories of how that fellowship had carried them through that storm in so many ways. Then, dramatically, they were asked to come forward to the front, at which point the pastor asked all the women and men who were also breast cancer survivors to stand. Then all the family members or friends connected to them and so on. Spine-tingling my friend. Then, he preached a remarkably coherent and joyful sermon and my breath finally returned. My guess is that this happens routinely, not rarely, in that congregation. At least six members approached us and urged us to join with them!! Spontaneous. We live 120 miles away, so . . . But, when my color is absolutely irrelevant to a group so different in color than I, how can I not wish that had the scenarios been reversed, my white congregation would have thrown their arms around them as they did us? If you have not had such experiences, you cannot understand this issue!


Will try. Slammed next Sabbath with Sligo Zoom class!!


I’m not sure what percentage of the population is in a position to implement policy. For the rest of us, social interaction is less managed. It’s those folk that are at a loss for concrete action. I would suggest that racial equality is the government’s job, and the rest is personal mind-set. This can’t be mandated, except for extreme antisocial behaviour. I don’t think that is what the “racist” accusations are strictly about. The current drumbeat on racism is an emotional venting meant to evoke guilt and is a shaming. It’s gotten to the point where no white person is going initiate contact with a black person because we don’t know what to say without over-compensating. That makes for strained relationships. A list of prescribed behaviours are not going to take care of racism; and neither is changing US history.


Listen, again… I appreciate you trying to carry on a discussion after I already said that I’m not willing to discuss this issue with you. Before you jump on and accuse me of not presenting an argument, or merely making a statement… Below is my personal judgement from a great deal of time I spent in discussing these issues with you. I have concluded that your argumentative strategy largely relies on:

  1. Throwing out exorbitant amount of claims that multiply with every response, and then triumphant declaration of victory when you find something you can twist and present as inconsistent.

  2. Semantic shift when #1 doesn’t work, claiming exception… while at the same time…

  3. Largely relying on arguments via analogies that are arguably not analogous … and

  4. Resorting to argument from false generalization or concepts to make universal assumptions about entire category with deceptive statements like “racism is a part of white heritage”. It is true if it is applied in a limited scope of that statement. It is false when one claims is as a universal generalization.

I could keep on going, but it would be rather pointless, since you are not able to recognize these in your argumentative strategy and correct these. At which point any viable discussion with you on this subject becomes very unlikely.

And it’s a pity really. We seem to have much in common. I love philosophy-driven science fiction like Blade Runner and Dune. I also think that “The Boys” is brilliant. I have been a music producer in a genre which was heavily influenced and derived from hip-hop philosophy and techniques, before I transitioned to film and TV. I spent my HS years in a mostly black school in Opa Locka… and much of my experience and academics were constrained to sports, etc, etc.

So, we could have other meaningful and more productive conversations about viable aspect of American and global society, especially as it relates to race and your personal perspective.

I don’t think that your binary and rather fundamentalist approach to racism would allow for a nuanced discussion on this subject.

I would rather not, since our concepts and assumptions about it are very different. If we can’t agree on what fruit is, then our discussion about varieties of tomatoes may get very confusing :slight_smile:.


I presume you said that after you wrote the response under review. Which means I’m responding to a text that precedes your edict, correct?

I find this response fascinating, as I do much of what you say.

In a way, your statements sound like the punchline in Liberty Mutual’s famed 2020 ad, “Caricature”:

When one says that “racism is a part of white heritage,” as I did, what is “a limited scope of that statement,” and what is “a universal generalization” of it?

I’d like you, or someone, to tell me what exactly these are.

In other words, everyone white is white because someone came up with the term white to classify people. The practice in which they were interested was 1) demarcating a purportedly superior group, in order for them to 2) mistreat those who were not part of that group; to demarcate people who were not white.

In other words, the term was originated, as it pertains to human classification, to perpetuate a notion of race. It is from this idea of race that we get racism.

This means that whiteness—the idea, not necessarily the eponymous skin color—is forever linked with race, because it was created for that reason. It never existed before this, and it has never existed at a time when such notions were not in force.

This is the Confederate Naval Jack:

This is the state flag of Alabama:

One might look at these two documents and say that they are nothing alike, and that comparing them is “a universal generalization.”

On the other hand, another person might look at them, knowing the history of the South, knowing what the confederacy was, knowing Alabama’s role, not only in the Confederacy, but in the history of racism, and, with massive understatement, say one word: “Obviously.”

You, apparently, like the caricatured, hero sandwich-chomping cameraman, would say, “I don’t see it.”

It is very unlikely. But it’s not necessarily for the reasons you give, or just for them. It’s also because I don’t agree with the reasons you give.

I see the coherence of my viewpoint as marked by its ability to describe what one sees in the actual world, as well as to make predictions about what one might see.

You classify it as you have done, but I’m barely able to see why you reject it, in part because your writing is often bad, but, also, perhaps, because I am not seeing past my assumptions.

That’s why I keep bringing up this “3rd party.”

What I mean is that, I completely understand that you think I’m doing everything that you say in your four-part list.

Meanwhile, I don’t know how to describe what you do, except as tortured prose. (To me, your analytical approach might be best summarized in your response to my comparison of racism and anti-semitism…or, better, your entire response to my dark matter / car wash / drift car analogies.)

However, I’m always aware that what we write is a historical record. I’m completely willing to wait until some future time, when someone knowledgeable and objective, perhaps, looks at what you’ve said, then at what I’ve said, or vice versa, and declares who was, in their opinion, correct.

In other words, I have no need to declare myself the winner. I think I’m clear, but perhaps I’m not clear to you because of assumptions I have that are not visible to me.

For example, you recently revealed you see racist acts as ones that are intentional:

Meanwhile, I said:

These are frameworks that would, arguably, widely vary how one analyzes and talks about racism. However, while we’ve been discussing this subject for over two years, here on Spectrum, it was only three days ago that I realized you hold this perspective.

There may be many such assumptions we both hold; one that makes breaching this topic difficult-to-impossible, without further investigating those topics we each consider properly basic.

As explained by James Smiley Bishop, “A properly basic belief is an unprovable belief that is held on the basis of human experience, and that is rational to hold to in the absence of a logical defeater.”

Of course. Perhaps we will!

I don’t think my views are more binary or fundamentalist than a system that has globally divided 7.5 billion human beings, and all future arrivals, into categories of white and non-white; in other words, that has made it feasible for most to tell to which category any one of them belongs. (At least, that is what the Maximum Maxim suggests.)

You may be correct, though, re: nuance. I’m not sure.

I mean, in an oppressive context, nuance is often a luxury of the power class. The subservient, meanwhile, would frequently rather just throw a grenade.

In kind.

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It’s more of an inquisitive response about an issue I’m curious about and find rather bizzarre I this conversation. I’ve added a reply about the flags, since you may find it interesting.

Generalization is precisely in one’s choise to proceed to perpetuate that demarcation. I’m not sure how you can reconcile to claim both…

  1. That it’s not a viable criterion and it was invented to demarcate superior humanity by self-described “white people”.

  2. And that such it’s still a viable demarcation for you to use in your arguments.

Confusing issue for me is the default equation of WHITE > BLACK that you may inadvertently have to reify to attempt to make the case of some total supremacy in all aspects of human being. It has some problematic implications of actually reifying “white people” as supreme.

Just for your personal trivia knowledge, that’s St. Andrew’s cross. You will find it on the flag of GB, Scotland, Jamaica, Florida and Alabama… Not only confederate flag.

Universal means applicable to every person or case… in your case, every white person, etc. It obviously wouldn’t be the case of similarities between two flags… out of all flags you would be considering.

Here’s were we got to a part I’m curious about, because I find certain implications exceptionally bizzarre.

In a personal you and I context… Do you categorize yourself as a subservient black person and I as a supreme and dominant white person?

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