For those who have slogged through the bestselling woke book, White Fragility, Coleman Hughes’ piece for City Journal probably rings true. Hughes has been an outspoken critic of the book, which has become something of a sacred text for the “anti-racist” cause. Hughes outlines some of the inherent problems with author Robin D’Angelo’s arguments.
White Fragility casts racism as a condition inherent to white people— they are born into it and are helpless against it. Hughes observes that D’Angelo “spends considerable time telling white people that they’re racist, but with a crucial twist— it’s not their fault.” The logic goes that because racism is systemic, running through every aspect of our culture, white people aren’t to blame for their racism. Now, that’s quite a pickle.
Hughes goes on to quibble with D’Angelo on a second point. In trying to chastise white people to be less racist, D’Angelo ends up portraying black people as childish:
“Holding back tears to spare others’ emotions is not something that adults do around their equals; it’s what parents do around children. Indeed, D’Angelo’s picture of the ideal relationship between whites and blacks bears a disturbing resemblance to the relationship between an exasperated parent and a spoiled child: the one constantly practicing emotional self-control, the other triggered by the smallest things and helplessly expressing every emotion as soon as it comes. These are the roles she expects—even encourages—whites and blacks to play. That people can call this anti-racist with a straight face shows how far language has strayed from reality.” Too true.