The Guardian

Academic Robin DiAngelo: 'We have to stop thinking about racism as someone who says the N-word'

Her book, White Fragility, has been a US bestseller and provoked an uncomfortable conversation on what it means to be white. She explains why she won’t give liberals an easy ride
Robin DiAngelo: ‘What are white people afraid they will lose by listening?’ Photograph: Gabriel Solis

Why is it so hard for white people to talk about racism? It is a question posed by the white academic Robin DiAngelo, whose book White Fragility has now spent seven months hovering at the top end of the New York Times bestseller list and has just been published in the UK.

“The problem with white people,” she says, “is that they just don’t listen. In my experience, day in and day out, most white people are absolutely not receptive to finding out their impact on other people. There is a refusal to know or see, or to listen or hear, or to validate.”

Over a video call from her home in Seattle, DiAngelo is emphatic and forthright. As a sociologist, she has worked as a diversity trainer across the

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