‘Exploring White Fragility’ Audio Excerpt: Preface

Click on the video above to listen to the Preface to “Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s Schools.” Purchase the book and arm yourself with the knowledge and tools to push back against identity politics in our schools.

Click here to purchase Chris’s new book from amazon. Click here to purchase directly from Rowman & Littlefield.

“Paslay’s thorough review of attitudes and actions associated with whiteness studies and racism give voice to all sides of diversity and pluralism so that we, as a nation, can continue the ongoing conversation about how to treat each other with the respect ALL humans deserve.” –Dr. Eugenia Krimmel, education professor and ESL/Bilingual education advisor at the Pennsylvania Department of Education

“This is a brave book. Paslay reveals and cuts through the endless layers of antiracist gospel which, in the name of enlightenment, leave one cohort of brown kids after another uneducated. Aspiring teachers seeking clear eyes and genuine progressivism should start by inhaling this book.” –John H. McWhorter, associate professor of linguistics and comparative literature at Columbia University

“This well-researched, well-argued, and thoughtful book provides a clear and comprehensive account of how the theory of white fragility is dividing rather than uniting American society and America’s classrooms. A must-read.” –Jonathan Church, author of Reinventing Racism: Why ‘White Fragility’ Is the Wrong Way to Think About Racial Inequality

Paslay provides a thorough exposition and measured critique of the new ideology that has colonized the minds of America’s school administrators and threatens to wreak havoc on our students—especially students of color. It’s a must-read for any parent or teacher who is concerned about the soul of the next generation.” –Max Eden, education policy expert and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute

Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s Schools

Click here to pre-order Chris’s new book, Exploring White Fragility: Debating the Effects of Whiteness Studies on America’s Schools, due to be released on April 11, by Rowman & Littlefield. (Click on the picture above to watch a detailed description of the book.)

“Paslay’s thorough review of attitudes and actions associated with whiteness studies and racism give voice to all sides of diversity and pluralism so that we, as a nation, can continue the ongoing conversation about how to treat each other with the respect ALL humans deserve.” –Dr. Eugenia Krimmel, education professor and ESL/Bilingual education advisor at the Pennsylvania Department of Education

“This is a brave book. Paslay reveals and cuts through the endless layers of antiracist gospel which, in the name of enlightenment, leave one cohort of brown kids after another uneducated. Aspiring teachers seeking clear eyes and genuine progressivism should start by inhaling this book.” –John H. McWhorter, associate professor of linguistics and comparative literature at Columbia University

“This well-researched, well-argued, and thoughtful book provides a clear and comprehensive account of how the theory of white fragility is dividing rather than uniting American society and America’s classrooms. A must-read.” –Jonathan Church, author of Reinventing Racism: Why ‘White Fragility’ Is the Wrong Way to Think About Racial Inequality

“Paslay provides a thorough exposition and measured critique of the new ideology that has colonized the minds of America’s school administrators and threatens to wreak havoc on our students—especially students of color. It’s a must-read for any parent or teacher who is concerned about the soul of the next generation.” –Max Eden, education policy expert and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute

Why ‘White Fragility’ is the Wrong Way to Think About Racial Inequality

Reinventing Racism: Why ‘White Fragility’ is the Wrong Way to Think About Racial Inequality is a new book by Jonathan Church. It’s a must read for those parents, teachers, and community members who want to keep Robin DiAngelo’s polarizing and scientifically flawed “White Fragility” out of America’s schools.

From Amazon’s book description:

The theory of white fragility is one of the most influential ideas to emerge in recent years on the topics of race, racism, and racial inequality. White fragility is defined as an unwillingness on the part of white people to engage in the difficult conversations necessary to address racial inequality. This “fragility” allegedly undermines the fight against racial inequality.

Despite its wide acclaim and rapid acceptance, the theory of white fragility has received no serious and sustained scrutiny. This book argues that the theory is flawed on numerous fronts. The theory functions as a divisive rhetorical device to shut down debate. It relies on the flawed premise of implicit bias. It posits a faulty way of understanding racism. It has serious methodological problems. It conflates objectivity and neutrality. It exploits narrative at the expense of facts. It distorts many of the ideas upon which the theory relies.

This book also offers a more constructive way to think about Whiteness, white privilege, and “white fragility,” pointing us to a more promising vision for addressing racial inequality.

Click here to view the book on Amazon.

Ibram X. Kendi Claims the Term ‘Legal Vote’ is Racist

by Christopher Paslay

Kendi’s attempts to label any inquiry into voter fraud as “racist” is just a tactic to silence advocates of voter integrity, and to marginalize those who disagree with him.

According to Ibram X. Kendi, who recently equated the interracial adoption of African children by white parents with colonialism, and in college, wrote an article suggesting whites have used the AIDS virus to control the black population, insists using the term “legal vote” is racist.

“The misinformation of widespread voter fraud — or ‘illegal voting’ — in Detroit, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Phoenix where Black and Brown voters predominate is baked into the term ‘legal vote.’ No matter what GOP propaganda says, there’s nothing wrong with those voters and votes,” Kendi wrote on twitter. “What makes a term racist is rarely the term’s literal meaning, and almost always the historical and political context in which the term is being used.”

In other words, Kendi wants to redefine the term according to his own personal politics.

The fact that a coalition of 39 House Republicans just sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr, asking the Department of Justice to investigate allegations of potential voter fraud, doesn’t seem to matter to him.

The letter read in part:

Dear Attorney General Barr,

While each state runs its own election process, the United States Department of Justice is ultimately responsible for the integrity of federal elections. The American people must have the utmost confidence that the outcome of the presidential election is legitimate. 

With widespread reports of irregularities, particularly in the vote counting process, it is time for you to use the resources of the Department to ensure that the process is conducted in a manner that is fully consistent with state and federal law. And, it is also important that the process be completely transparent, so that the American people will have full confidence in the result.

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division Voting Section’s responsibility to ensure that the right to vote is sacred. This not only means access to the ballot box, but it also means ensuring that no one’s vote is devalued by any means of voter fraud. 

This doesn’t seem to matter to Kendi. Neither does the fact in Nevada, there are over 3,600 possible cases of voter fraud— specifically, residents voting in Nevada who no longer live there. 

To Kendi, calling for voter integrity and transparency is somehow racist, because Kendi’s race-obsessed worldview does not allow him to see past skin color to the actual substance of an issue. 

Jonathan Church, a leading critic of white fragility theory, recently published an article criticizing Kendi’s scholarship in Merion West titled “Ibram Kendi’s Thesis Could Use a Lot More Rigor.” 

In it, Church criticizes the flaws in Kendi’s reasoning, including his belief in Mono-Causality and the Origins of Racist Ideas:

Skeptics are racists, it would appear, because they disagree with Kendi—not because they have legitimate concerns about whether Kendi is correct that causality only goes one way, or that policies are not the sole cause of inequality, or that counterexamples may diminish the force of his claims,” Church writes. “Logic, facts, and scholarship have little to do with it.”

By the way, Jonathan Church’s new book, “Reinventing Racism: Why “White Fragility” Is the Wrong Way to Think About Racial Inequality,” is available for pre-order, and is due out on January 13. It provides a great toolkit for resisting Robin DiAngelo’s toxic white fragility theory, and offers well-thought out alternatives. 

Still, from Ibram Kendi’s perspective, racial disparities are the sole result of racism. Period. Students of color are disproportionately suspended because of racist educational policies, not because their experiences or backgrounds differ in any way from those of their white counterparts. According to Kendi, all students arrive at school at the exact same place. 

(I wonder what Kendi would say if we used the same logic for the 2020 election: the late breaking disparity of votes for Biden IS the evidence of the fraud itself. Period. No other scenario is needed.)

Kendi’s attempts to label any inquiry into voter fraud as “racist” is just a tactic to silence advocates of voter integrity, and to marginalize those who disagree with him. According to Kendi, you are either racist, or antiracist, there is no neutrality. 

To this I say to Kendi: You are either for voter fraud, or against it. There is no in-between. And as evidenced by your attempt to racialize the term “legal vote,” it seems clear you fully embrace the latter. 

Fundamental Flaws of White Fragility with Jonathan Church

Writer and economist Jonathan Church examines some fundamental flaws of Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility theory, and how it’s a Kafka trap that falls prey to logical fallacies. His book critiquing Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility theory will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in January of 2021. Jonathan’s articles about whiteness studies and other topics have appeared in Quillette, Areo, Arc Digital, The Agonist Journal, Merion West, The Good Men Project, New Discourses, and The Federalist, among others. Thanks for watching!

Understanding Implicit Bias with Jonathan Church

Writer and economist Jonathan Church examines the concept of implicit bias, and what researches have written about it. His book critiquing Robin DiAngelo’s white fragility theory will be published by Rowman & Littlefield in January of 2021. Jonathan’s articles about implicit bias and other topics have appeared in Quillette, Areo, Arc Digital, The Agonist Journal, Merion West, The Good Men Project, New Discourses, and The Federalist, among others.

How ‘White Fragility’ Theory Turns Classrooms Into Race-Charged Power Struggles

by Jonathan Church and Christopher Paslay

White fragility theory is counterproductive and divisive. White teachers should not be discounted, bullied, or shut down during anti-bias trainings in schools.

(Note: This article was first published in The Federalist on February 28, 2020. It was also discussed on the Dan Proft radio show.)

On Feb. 28, 2020, Dr. Robin DiAngelo delivers the keynote speech at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education in Atlanta, Georgia. DiAngelo has become “perhaps the country’s most visible expert in anti-bias training.” She is also the author of a best-selling book on “why it’s so hard for white people to talk about racism.”

The answer, she says, is “white fragility,” defined as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves.” This “racial stress” is the direct result of “implicit bias,” which runs so strong in white people that it is a core reason racism persists in America. This claim is based on a worldview, advanced by an increasingly influential field called Whiteness Studies, that racism is inseparable from the reign of Whiteness.

Whiteness is seen as a central pillar of society. What is Whiteness? It is hard to say, but the basic idea is that all the institutions of society are “white”—made by white people, ruled by white people, and kept in place by white people to make sure that white people continue to benefit from “white privilege.” These institutions are infected by white supremacy, a result of the long arc of racism in American history. Whiteness works through implicit bias, which refers to a whole range of unconscious behaviors, speech, and beliefs that keep white supremacy in place.

It should not be surprising that many white people are not convinced. If so, DiAngelo says, they are experiencing “racial stress,” which gets in the way of dismantling Whiteness. In other words, they are exhibiting white fragility. It turns out, however, that white people have good reason to be skeptical.

What’s ‘Fragile’ Is DiAngelo’s Response to Criticism

One of us, Mr. Church, has written several essays about DiAngelo’s theory over the last year and a half. Among other topics, he has explained how the research on implicit bias does not give us reason to think that implicit bias predicts much of anything about how we think and behave. He has also pointed out many methodological flaws in her work. But his ultimate assessment is simple: “White fragility” is a phrase DiAngelo invented to delegitimize any disagreement with her views on what causes racial inequality.

DiAngelo is attempting to address one of the most important issues of our time. But she does so with an air of piety that presumes she knows all the answers. One of the main challenges in the analysis of Whiteness and white privilege is the deeply ambiguous nature of these terms (see herehere, and here). As historian Eric Arsenen wrote, “whiteness has become a blank screen onto which those who claim to analyze it can project their own meanings.” The inherent ambiguity in a term like Whiteness is likely one of the main reasons DiAngelo has encountered resistance over the years.

In response, she has doubled down, defining “one aspect of Whiteness and its effects, White Fragility,” as “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves,” which “include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation,” all of which allegedly “function to reinstate white racial equilibrium.” In other words, disagreement is bad.

In effect, DiAngelo has pulled off a master stroke of rhetorical legerdemain. “White fragility” is a term that rhetorically delegitimizes in one stroke any “defensiveness” when confronted with DiAngelo’s views about racism and Whiteness. Unfortunately, this approach invariably leads to rampant speculation, rather than careful hypotheses, about what Whiteness is and how it causes racial disparities.

The inquisitional nature of this approach is so remarkably transparent that one is at a loss to explain how DiAngelo gets away with asserting incoherently that “[h]uman objectivity is not actually possible” given that such a claim is itself an objective statement that also confuses objectivity with neutrality. Instead, the act of pointing out this incoherence is reflexively treated as an act of heresy which must be “cancelled” or punished for allegedly accommodating white supremacy.

Schools Eat Up Incoherent ‘White Fragility’ Theory

One area in which this theory has become increasingly influential is education. Mr. Paslay has spent two decades in Philadelphia classrooms and teacher training workshops. He has found that white fragility—apart from raising awareness about structural inequality—is having some unintended side-effects on schools in America. Above all, the theory fosters intolerance from facilitators leading anti-bias trainings in educational settings, which can provoke resentment among teachers.

Dr. David W. Johnson, a co-director of the Cooperative Learning Center at the University of Minnesota, studies the benefit of cooperative learning, social interdependence, and constructive conflict. He offers eight guidelines for facilitating classroom discussions with students who are prone to challenge their professors, suggestions many educators leading the professional development workshops Mr. Paslay has attended have ignored.

The first is simply being respectful. Johnson writes of students who are overly critical of their professors, “Do not discount them as people or treat them impolitely (such as cutting them off or not calling on them).”

Yet Mr. Paslay has been cut off in the middle of speaking numerous times in anti-bias teacher trainings. DiAngelo freely admits to limiting the participation of whites in her workshops in favor of people who look different, and even talks of cutting off whites who try to defend themselves. Indeed, in one of her academic papers, she recommends denying “equal time to all narratives in our classrooms.”

Johnson also suggests that teachers should listen to their students carefully, and when disagreeing with them, the focus should be on the issue, not on the person commenting. Again, these are not approaches many facilitators have taken in teacher trainings Mr. Paslay has attended. These trainings are clearly influenced by the theory of white fragility.

In multiple circumstances, the workshop leaders half-listened in a perfunctory manner, knowing that what Mr. Paslay was saying deviated from the tendentious ideological script they had been assigned to deliver. When Mr. Paslay was finished offering his alternative perspective, if he had not been shut down or cut off, the facilitators often took issue with him personally—labeling him “racist” or “biased”— not the issue at hand.

Treating White People How She’d Never Treat Black People

DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” is a focused attack on the behaviors of white people, as opposed to placing the primary focus on particular issues. In an interview with Teaching Tolerance, DiAngelo explained that in her workshops, making generalizations about white people and the fact that they are complicit in systemic racism causes them great umbrage.

DiAngelo stated, “Right now, me saying ‘white people,’ as if our race had meaning, and as if I could know anything about somebody just because they’re white, will cause a lot of white people to erupt in defensiveness. And I think of it as a kind of weaponized defensiveness. Weaponized tears. Weaponized hurt feelings. And in that way, I think white fragility actually functions as a kind of white racial bullying.”

Incredibly, white people taking offense to being called fragile, racist, or reacting with tears or hurt feelings is racial bullying, according to DiAngelo. But all of DiAngelo’s name calling, personal judgements of character, and attacks are not? This amounts to a rhetorical bullying tactic in itself.

It is also a classic example of psychological projection, which is another way scholar-activists like DiAngelo can protect the presumed infallibility of white fragility theory while failing to consider perspectives that run counter to its ideology. Tragically, as research suggests, these workshops are a setback for diversity, and too often leave whites with a feeling of frustration or resentment.

How Anti-Bias Training Breeds Racism

In the world of education, this means white teachers go back to their classrooms feeling guilty, accused, and even more close-minded than before. The recent actions of New York City Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza are 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.”  To make matters worse, 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.”

In essence, white fragility theory boils down to Power vs. Force, a concept made popular by Dr. David R. Hawkins. It analyzes “the hidden determinants of human behavior.” While true power resides from within, force is applied through projection—an outside force trying to impose its will. Force can only work for so long; once it encounters true power, it immediately unravels.

Interestingly, many of the emotions DiAngelo cites as evidence of white fragility—such as anger, shame, guilt, and apathy—are listed by Hawkins as a reaction to force. Nowhere in white fragility theory or whiteness studies can one find positive responses related to true power, such as courage, love, joy, or enlightenment; everything tied to white fragility is zero-sum and is based on dichotomy rather than unity.

White fragility theory is counterproductive and divisive. White teachers should not be discounted, bullied, or shut down when presenting alternative perspectives during anti-bias trainings in schools. A tolerant, holistic approach to social equity in education must be achieved to bring about positive change, and to prevent the unintended perpetuation of racial stereotypes and low student expectations in America’s classrooms.

Jonathan Church is a government economist, CFA charter holder, and writer whose work has appeared in Quillette, Areo, Arc Digital, Merion, Agonist Journal, Good Men Project, and other places. You can follow him on Twitter @jondavidchurch. Christopher Paslay is a Philadelphia public schoolteacher and coach. His articles have appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer, American Thinker, and Real Clear Politics, among other publications. You can follow him on Twitter @cspaslay.