Exposing Seattle’s ‘Internalized Racial Superiority for White People’ Training

by Christopher Paslay

Under the banner of “antiracism,” Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights is now explicitly endorsing principles of segregationism, group-based guilt, and race essentialism—ugly concepts that should have been left behind a century ago.

Christopher F. Rufo, the director of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Wealth & Poverty and a contributing editor for City Journal, recently obtained new documents from Seattle’s segregated “whites-only” trainings, which induct white employees into the cult of critical race theory.

As Rufo writes on his website:

Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights has developed a “race and social justice” curriculum for all 10,000 city employees.

I’ve obtained new documents from the city’s segregated “whites-only” trainings, which induct white employees into the cult of critical race theory.

The trainers require white employees to examine their “relationships with white supremacy, racism, and whiteness” and explain how their “[families] benefit economically from the system of white supremacy even as it directly and violently harms Black people.”

Under the banner of “antiracism,” Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights is now explicitly endorsing principles of segregationism, group-based guilt, and race essentialism—ugly concepts that should have been left behind a century ago.

Clearly, this is a violation of The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which exists to outlaw discrimination based upon a person’s race, color, religion, sex, or country of national origin. It explicitly expands these protections to employment programs. Under  Title VII:

It shall be an unlawful employment practice for any employer, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining, including on-the-job training programs to discriminate against any individual because of his race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in admission to, or employment in, any program established to provide apprenticeship or other training. (42 U.S. Code §2000e-2(d).)

Here are some of Seattle’s ‘Internalized Racial Superiority for White People’ training documents:

This slide below introduces the segregated training based on race, and asks white participants to introduce themselves and name their preferred “pronouns,” callously assuming the participants are even comfortable doing so (or communicating in such a manner).

This slide below, titled “Internalized Racial Superiority,” teaches that all whites internalize a “system of white supremacy,” and insists that all segregated white participants in the room suffer from such stigmatizing things as “cognitive dissonance,” “arrogance,” “violence,” and “anti-blackness,” among a dozen others.

This slide, titled “What We Do In White People Space,” encourages the segregated whites in the room to process white feelings (like sadness, shame, paralysis, confusion, and denial), to accept retraining (to learn new behaviors, concepts, missing histories, and ways of seeing that are hidden from them in white supremacy), and to take action to shift power (get politically active in helping redistribute resources, change who’s in power, and alter situations).

This slide, titled “Our Relationship With White Supremacy, Racism, and Whiteness in this Moment,” asks the segregated whites in the room to respond to one prompt. Prompt #1 asks: How are you aware of the ways that your family benefits economically from the system of white supremacy even as it directly and violently harms Black people and non-Black people of color and Indigenous people? Prompt #2 asks: How are you aware of your “white silence” (not naming race, racism or the system of white supremacy or taking action to end it) when it comes to comments and actions that cause harm to Black people? And prompt #3 asks: How is your “white fragility” showing up at work? (White fragility is a reflexive, defensive and sometimes deflecting response that we as white people can experience when feeling challenged about our relationship to race, racism and the system of white supremacy.)

It’s unclear whether any Seattle employee has filed a lawsuit against the city thus far.  However, Christopher F. Rufo is planning to file a complaint against Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights. In a July 29 Tweet, Rufo writes:

In the coming weeks, I will be filling an official civil rights complaint against Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights. They have created a new form of “institutional racism” that violates the core principle of “equality under the law.” It’s time to fight back.

It’s only a matter of time before others take Rufo’s lead and stand up against such divisive and polarizing racial discrimination. Proactively advocating for diversity, equity, and inclusion is one thing (and should be encouraged and applauded), but reeducating employees with toxic racial bigotry that clearly violates Title VII under The Civil Rights Act of 1964 should not be tolerated.

Restoring MLK’s Dream: Valuing Content of Character Over Color of Skin

by Christopher Paslay

Robin DiAngelo mistakenly ties the Civil Rights Movement to identity politics, when in fact the movement was based on universal human values.

Robin DiAngelo, who has made an estimated $2 million from her controversial bestseller White Fragility — and charges up to $40,000 for a half-day workshop — insists all social progress in America has come from identity politics.

“The term identity politics refers to the focus on the barriers specific groups face in their struggle for equality,” DiAngelo wrote in her author’s note to White Fragility.  “We have yet to achieve our founding principle [in America], but any gains we have made thus far have come through identity politics. . . . All progress we have made in the realm of civil rights has been accomplished through identity politics.”

But just as DiAngelo mangles the story of Jackie Robison in White Fragility, she also misrepresents both the concept of identity politics, and the association of identity politics with the Civil Rights Movement.  Her statement that “identity politics refers to the focus on the barriers specific groups face in their struggle for equality” is disingenuous because it’s only half of the equation.  While identity politics does aim to remove barriers to marginalized groups, it also uses identity itself — race, religion, gender, and sexuality — as a source of power.  In other words, it places membership in a social group over the character of the individual, thus turning MLK’s “dream” on its head.

DiAngelo, along with many anti-racists, insist the Civil Rights Movement was a form of identity politics because it advocated very explicitly for a certain identity group — it called for universal human rights, freedoms, and opportunities by focusing on the identity groups who lacked them. This advocacy, however, is not identity politics. It is what Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay call universal liberalism; in this case, “liberal” does not mean left of center on the political spectrum, but refers instead to a well-established philosophical and ethical position which focuses on individuality, liberty, and equal opportunity (conservatives, liberals, and libertarians all employ some forms of universal liberalism).

What is the difference between universal liberalism and identity politics? Both want to end inequality, but use very different approaches, as explained in the article “Identity Politics Does Not Continue the Work of the Civil Rights Movements,” published on the website New Discourses by Pluckrose and Lindsay. “Universal liberalism focuses on individuality and shared humanity and seeks to achieve a society in which every individual is equally able to access every right, freedom, and opportunity that our shared societies provide,” Pluckrose and Lindsay write.  “Identity politics focuses explicitly on group identity and seeks political empowerment by promoting that group as a monolithic, marginalized entity distinct from and polarized against another group depicted as a monolithic privileged entity.”

In layman’s terms, universal liberalism seeks diversity, equity, and inclusion through individuals seeking a shared humanity at the personal level — practicing the kinds of core principles and values that transcend race and other identities; things like friendship, love, respect, and tolerance for diversity are the core building blocks that unite us and provide equal access to rights, freedoms, and opportunities. Identity politics, on the other hand, are rooted in social constructivism — the idea that “truth” and “knowledge” are constructed by hierarchies of power within society.  In other words, universal values and shared humanity don’t exist, and do not transcend identity (race, religion, gender, sexuality). Therefore, civil rights can only be achieved through dismantling so-called power structures in society, which, according to an anti-racist framework, require the disruption and dismantling of things like “whiteness,” “toxic masculinity,” etc. 

As Pluckrose and Lindsay write:

The problems with this kind of rationale are not only that it sets different identity groups in opposition to each other, makes communication difficult, and creates a moral economy that locates social power (immunity from legitimate accusations of bigotry) in perceptions of victimhood or oppression. It also reduces the ability to be able to genuinely empathize across identities if we are understood to have entirely different experiences, knowledges, and rules.

There are three core problems with identity politics, according to Pluckrose and Lindsay:

  • Epistemological: It relies on highly dubious social constructivist theory and consequently produces heavily biased readings of situations.
  • Psychological: Its sole focus on identity is divisive, reduces empathy between groups, and goes against core moral intuitions of fairness and reciprocity.
  • Social: By failing to uphold principles of non-discrimination consistently, it threatens to damage or even undo social taboos against judging people by their race, gender, or sexuality.

Pluckrose and Lindsay also state:

It is generally a terrible idea to have different rules of behavior dependent on identity because it goes against the most common sense of fairness and reciprocity which seems to be pretty hardwired. It is also antithetical to universal liberalism and precisely the opposite of what civil rights movements fought to obtain. Identity politics which argues that prejudice against white people and men is acceptable while prejudice against people of color and women is not do still work on a sense of fairness, equality, and reciprocity but it is reparative. It attempts to restore a balance by “evening the score” a little, particularly thinking historically.

Despite disingenuous claims from DiAngelo, the Civil Rights Movement did not employ the use of identity politics.  Instead, it used the values of universal human rights and the inherent worth of every individual, and did so regardless of race, religion, gender, or sexuality.  If we truly care about diversity, equity, and inclusion in America, we must resist using polarizing identity politics, and instead choose an approach based on universal human values.

Attorney Says Teaching ‘White Fragility’ Will Get You Sued

by Christopher Paslay

According to an article in The Federalist, “Legions of ‘trainers’ holding up ‘White Fragility’ are indoctrinating government agencies, corporate workforces, and schools. People subjected to it may have good grounds for a lawsuit.”

Adam Mill, an attorney specializing in labor and employment and public administration law in Kansas City, Missouri, recently wrote an article in The Federalist headlined, “Teaching Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility’ Will Get You Sued.”  In it he writes of a typical White Fragility training session, where a person gets labeled a “racist” for trying to defend oneself:

How does one respond to this? Using erudite, academic words, a stranger has just accused you of being an “unconscious” racist. Worst of all, if you try to deny it, that’s just “white fragility” that “obstructs” the fight against racism. Denying you’re a racist is proof that you’re a racist.

Across the country, legions of these types of “trainers” are fanning out to indoctrinate in schools, government agencies, and corporate workforces. After a period of instruction, the trainers organize their students into small groups in which only one topic may be addressed: anecdotes of “racist” thoughts and deeds that reinforce the hypothesis. It’s like a giant group trial in which the accused is allowed to apologize but never allowed to defend herself.

Of course, nobody likes to be called a racist, particularly people who strive not to be one. It’s particularly galling to be assigned this malignant opinion by a stranger who knows nothing about the accused except the color of her skin.

. . . Truly, you have the right to object. Strangers do not have a right to assume your opinions based upon the circumstances of your birth. No, we don’t all have “unconscious biases” that make up a greater tapestry of “institutional racism.” That’s an unprovable hypothesis based upon a race-based stereotype.

In your workplace environment, it might not be prudent to speak up. It might cost you your job in an unfavorable labor market. . . . If the trainer persists, or you are disciplined for resisting this racial stereotype, file a discrimination complaint with Human Resources. It’s not legal to discriminate against any race or skin color—yes, even Caucasians. . . .

HR departments should tread very carefully when selecting training in the current environment. If management pushes training that assigns collective guilt to any race, religion, sex, or ethnicity, it may constitute direct evidence of discriminatory intent in a later lawsuit claiming discrimination.

Training based on the book White Fragility, if sponsored by decision-makers as a mandatory expression of corporate culture, will likely be heavily relied upon by future plaintiffs who suspect they were denied promotions, bonuses, and other opportunities due to their skin color.

Every American is entitled to equal treatment regardless of race. That is still the law — at least for the time being. But rights have a way of disappearing if nobody speaks up.

For the record, people have been speaking up. Calling out the discriminatory actions of New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza in 2019 is a prime example. His use of anti-bias training to dismantle what he called “White Supremacy Culture” in schools sparked a major backlash, prompting administrators, teachers, and parents to call parts of the workshops “ugly and divisive.”

Specifically, teachers were told by diversity consultants to “focus on black children over white ones,” and one Jewish superintendent who described her family’s Holocaust tragedies “was scolded and humiliated.” Ultimately, four white New York City school district executives, who were demoted or stripped of duties under Carranza’s administrative reorganization, sued the city, insisting he had created “an environment which is hostile toward whites.”

There is a solution to all this madness, of course — stay clear of Robin DiAngelo’s toxic White Fragility.  For those teachers looking for a positive, holistic and unifying approach to ending systemic oppression . . . you guessed it: classic multicultural education is your best bet.

10 Excellent Critiques of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility Theory

White Fragility author and scholar-activist Robin DiAngelo

by Christopher Paslay

These 10 resources, written by conservatives and liberals alike, provide a toolkit for understanding — and debunking — Robin DiAngelo’s toxic concepts.

Robin DiAngelo, whose white fragility theory has become one of the most influential ideas about racism in America, is a scholar-activist who has openly called for academic “revolution” as a means of de-centering whiteness in America and stopping so-called white supremacy and institutional racism.

As she writes in her seminal paper on white fragility, “Whiteness Studies begin with the premise that racism and white privilege exist in both traditional and modern forms, and rather than work to prove its existence, work to reveal it,” making it clear she’s more interested in forwarding her narrative about the oppressive nature of whiteness than in using the scientific method to prove it. In her Author’s Note to her bestselling book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, DiAngelo admits that it’s “unapologetically rooted in identity politics,” and that we as Americans “have yet to achieve our founding principle, but any gains we have made thus far have come from identity politics.”

DiAngelo’s progressive activism is rooted in ideas that lack sufficient support from social science research, and as a scholar-activist, she tends to put politics over science, making her work more about ideological preferences than rational inquiry. Her work lacks rigorous hypothesis testing and quantitative measurement; makes sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people without backing these assertions with the use of statistical analysis; relies too heavily on anecdotal observations and flawed implicit bias research; and arrogantly presents her theories as settled science rather than hypotheses to be tested and further explored.

Below is a list of 10 resources which thoroughly critique DiAngelo’s theories and the concepts that underpin them. 

1. Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s Schools, Rowman & Littlefield Publications, by Christopher Paslay. This book, due out in April of 2021, uses both existing research and anecdotal classroom observations to examine the effects whiteness studies is having on America’s schools. (Click here to pre-order.) 

2. The Flaws in White Fragility Theory: A PrimerNew Discourses, by Helen Pluckrose and Jonathan Church. The title is self-explanatory: it’s a primer for understanding the major flaws in white fragility theory. Specifically, it analyses DiAngelo’s concept of “whiteness,” “white fragility,” and the shaky underlying concept of “implicit bias.” The article closes by illustrating how DiAngelo has constructed a house of cards full of logical fallacies.

3. White Fragility Theory Is a Bullying Rhetorical TacticThe Agonist, by Jonathan Church. Robin DiAngelo believes that whites must shut up and listen. This article highlights how she uses white fragility theory to shut down whites — and any and all conversation — when they try to question or offer alternative viewpoints.  

4. How ‘White Fragility’ Theory Turns Classrooms Into Race-Charged Power StrugglesThe Federalist, by Jonathan Church and Christopher Paslay, (discussed further on the Dan Proft radio show). This article, co-authored by Jonathan Church and myself, highlights the flaws in methodology in white fragility, as well as how the approach can provoke resentment among classroom teachers. 

5.  Psychology’s Favorite Tool for Measuring Racism Isn’t Up to the JobThe Cut, by Jesse Singal. This article exposes the fundamental flaws of the Implicit Association Test (IAT), and Harvard’s Project Implicit website, and how the IAT has both validity and reliability issues. Implicit bias, of course, is a concept that heavily underpins DiAngelo’s white fragility theory, as well as most approaches in the schools of whiteness studies and anti-racism.

6. Diversity Training Shouldn’t Be Based On Flawed Implicit Bias ResearchPhiladelphia Inquirer, by Christopher Paslay. This article highlights the problems with implicit bias research, and how mandatory implicit bias trainings can have unintended negative consequences on education and business, such as hurting teacher/manager morale and provoking resentment among faculty/colleagues.

7. The Theory of White Fragility: Scholarship or Proselytization? , Areo Magazine, by Jonathan Church. This article exposes the cult-like atmosphere surrounding DiAngelo and white fragility trainings, and how the workshops are based more in religious indoctrination than in education and rational inquiry. 

8. The Intellectual Fraud of Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility,’ The Logical Liberal, by David Edward Burke. Liberal activist and attorney David Edward Burke’s criticism of DiAngelo’s white fragility proves her questionable use of research and science is not simply a partisan issue. His article exposes how “Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility is snake oil masquerading as insight.” 

9. Are Micro-Aggressions Really A Thing ?The Good Men Project, by Jonathan Church. This article analyzes the scientific legitimacy of “microaggressions,” which like implicit bias, underpins much of whiteness studies, anti-racism, and white fragility theory.  

10. Whiteness Studies and the Theory of White Fragility Are Based on a Logical FallacyAreo Magazine, (discussed further in an interview and podcast with Benjamin Boyce), by Jonathan Church. This articles exposes DiAngelo’s flawed reasoning and the logical fallacies at the heart of white fragility theory and whiteness studies in general.  

Please subscribe to my growing YouTube channel, Inside White Fragility.

Debunking DiAngelo Episode #3: Does Niceness Perpetuate Racism?

According to Robin DiAngelo, niceness is not anti-racism. Whites must be blunt and actively call out the oppressiveness of “whiteness” in order to stop systemic racism. To be “less white,” DiAngelo states, “is to be less oppressive racially. To be less arrogant. To be less certain. To be less defense. To be less ignorant.” But is this zero-sum approach — disrupting and stereotyping one group in order to advance another — really the best way to go? Is an approach based on confrontation, provocation, and agitation the best way to bond with our students and colleagues? Is forgoing curtesy and “niceness” going to develop the kind of core principles and values our community needs to create an atmosphere of teamwork and synergy?

Please subscribe to my growing YouTube channel, Inside White Fragility. Thanks for watching!