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Robin DiAngelo

University of Washington

Robin DiAngelo is an Affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of Washington. She is best known for her New York Times bestselling book titled “White Fragility,” which examines DiAngelo’s belief that all white people have embraced and internalized bigotry in order to protect institutional racism in every aspect of American life.

Robin previously described her all-encompassing view on systemic racism in her article “Nothing to Add,” noting that systematic racism results in the unequal distribution of resources amongst racial groups, essentially defining racism as any and all racial disparities.

She writes, “…whiteness scholars define racism as encompassing economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that systematize and perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources, and power among white people and people of color.”

DiAngelo states that the unequal distribution of resources is what makes racism an inexorable part of the free market.

“Capitalism is so bound up with racism…Capitalism is dependent on inequality, on an underclass. If the model is profit over everything else, you’re not going to look at your policies to see what is most racially equitable.” 

During her appearance on Jimmy Fallon, DiAngelo explained that individuals are not immune to racism, as it’s a foundational aspect of our nation. Racism is not an individual act or offense, but rather a system that disproportionately discriminates against people of color and automatically benefits whites. During an appearance on CBS News, she stated that white privilege is automatically bestowed upon white people whether they consider themselves racist or not. During a later interview with the Family Action Network, DiAneglo will go to her “last breath” believing that all white people are racist;

“I will hold to my last breath that all white people that live in a society whose foundation is white superiority internalize the message of white superiority…”

During an appearance at the Seattle Public Library, she went further, declaring that all white people have a “deeply internalized” sense of white supremacy.  According to DiAngelo, white people are born and bred into racism and “internalize” their bigotry. She uses this basis to define “white fragility” is the inability of white Americans to come to terms with their inherent racism and resultant defensive reaction to being accused of harboring racist beliefs. Through this, white Americans maintain a racist system that they benefit from.

DiAngelo uses the individual as an example of the presence of racism in American society. She explains that racism is structural rather than individual, thus attributing any disparities to individual acts, such as behavior or values, is emblematic of “white fragility” and how white Americans protect racist institutions from systematic change.

DiAngelo travels extensively to promote her work, regularly speaking before city governments and major corporations like Levi’s. She recently faced blowback at the University of Connecticut for charging $20,000 for a three and a half-hour lecture before only 44 administrators. She also received criticism from Missouri Senator Josh Hawley when it was discovered that her work is featured prominently in diversity trainings hosted by government institutions.

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