Why White People Like Robin DiAngelo Should Never Be Leading Anti-Racism Work — Period

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white fragility book

Robin DiAngelo's book, White Fragility, answered the question many white folks had during a time where racial tension has spiked yet again:

How can I be a better ally?

It's no wonder it became a New York Times bestseller. In fact, because of the success of her book, UConn was actually willing to pay DiAngelo $20,000 to have her train their faculty and administration. 

One of the biggest frustrations I’ve had having been an experienced social justice organizer and activist in NYC is white folks constantly asking, “How can I be a better ally?”

While the intention is there, the answer to that question is a Google search away.

There are books, videos and articles galore answering this question of what you can do as a white person. After all, I’m sure if folks wanted to find their nearest spin or yoga class, they would Google that information instead of asking, right?

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Reading Robin DiAngelo’s book was a great example of a white person calling out other white folks about their privilege.

However, it’s also brought on some negative reviews.

John McWhorter, a professor of linguistics at Columbia University, said that White Fragility "diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us."

Nonetheless, these negative reviews have not shaken her standing as a leader in anti-racism trainings.

While everyone has a role in this movement, when it comes to anti-racism work, it's important to center and follow the population that the very structure of racism affects.

And yes, technically everyone is affected by racism, but the group that racism oppresses should be leading the work.

Their voices should be uplifted so that we all can learn to do the right thing.

In the time of the Black Lives Matter movement, the Black community should be centered and they should be the ones leading and being listened to. While white folks do have a role in this movement, their role should be to listen. 

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White Fragility does not hold back when calling out the privilege of whiteness, which I think is what is very much needed. 

But Robin DiAngelo should not be getting paid thousands of dollars to lead this work. 

I also agree that white folks should be in conversation with other white folks about race, especially because white folks have a race too, but ultimately, the leaders of the racial justice movement should be BIPOC folks.

Thought leaders such as bell hooks, Angela Davis and Gloria Anzaldua have created wonderful works of art that we should all be reading. 

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For many years, they have been out doing the great anti-racism work that needs to be done, but for some reason one white person comes out with a New York Times bestseller and so many people want to throw their money at her.

It’s frustrating, to say the very least, to see a white woman get paid high monetary rates for her services when there are so many women and people of color who have been doing anti-racism work for years who do not get paid the rates they deserve.

Women of color in particular have been out there doing the work to dismantle capitalism and racism, and yet, still have trouble obtaining the rates they request. 

Instead of paying a white person to lead trainings, why not invest in other folks of color who have been doing the work for years and years? 

Robin DiAngelo has people throwing thousands of dollars at her to do anti-racism work. Yet we're not paying BIPOC experts the rates they deserve. Let's remember who this movement centers and what this movement is about: justice for BIPOC folks. 

That’s why BIPOC folks should be doing the leading in this work. Period.

And remember, there are a ton of resources out there that you can read, watch or listen to that will help you educate yourself.

So next time you want to ask yourself, “What is my role and what can I do?” be sure to Google it first.

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Angelique Beluso is a sex educator and writer who covers feminism, pop culture and relationship topics. Follow her @AngeliqueBeluso