• Nice Racism

  • How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm
  • By: Dr. Robin DiAngelo
  • Narrated by: Dr. Robin DiAngelo
  • Length: 8 hrs and 40 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (326 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

Building on the groundwork laid in the New York Times best seller White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explores how a culture of niceness inadvertently promotes racism.

In White Fragility, Robin DiAngelo explained how racism is a system into which all White people are socialized and challenged the belief that racism is a simple matter of good people versus bad. DiAngelo also made a provocative claim: White progressives cause the most daily harm to people of color. In Nice Racism, her follow-up work, she explains how they do so. Drawing on her background as a sociologist and over 25 years working as an anti-racist educator, she picks up where White Fragility left off and moves the conversation forward.

Writing directly to White people as a White person, DiAngelo identifies many common white racial patterns and breaks down how well-intentioned White people unknowingly perpetuate racial harm. These patterns include:

  • rushing to prove that we are “not racist”,
  • downplaying white advantage,
  • romanticizing Black, Indigenous, and other peoples of color (BIPOC),
  • pretending white segregation “just happens”,
  • expecting BIPOC people to teach us about racism, 
  • carefulness,
  • and feeling immobilized by shame. 

DiAngelo explains how spiritual White progressives seeking community by coopting Indigenous and other groups’ rituals create separation, not connection. She challenges the ideology of individualism and explains why it is okay to generalize about White people, and she demonstrates how White people who experience other oppressions still benefit from systemic racism. Writing candidly about her own missteps and struggles, she models a path forward, encouraging white readers to continually face their complicity and embrace courage, lifelong commitment, and accountability.

Nice Racism is an essential work for any white person who recognizes the existence of systemic racism and white supremacy and wants to take steps to align their values with their actual practice. BIPOC listeners may also find the “insiders” perspective useful for navigating whiteness.

Includes a study guide.

©2021 Robin DiAngelo (P)2021 Beacon Press

Critic Reviews

"A powerful new book from the author of White Fragility reveals why profound racism is often found in supposedly liberal spaces." (The Guardian)

“A pointed reminder that good intentions aren’t enough to break the cycle of racism.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“A fierce critique of the ‘culture of niceness’ that prevents the hard work of dismantling racism.... [DiAngelo] dismantles unconscious biases with precision. Readers will feel compelled to hold themselves more accountable.” (Publishers Weekly)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I just got a honest intelligent session on racism.

I feel like I just had neural surgery. Not since Jane Elliot, I have heard/read such a impressive message. I wish she would come and educate my circles of life here in NC. That’s why her books exist; so we can communicate to each other in a better/different way. Thank you Ms. DiAngelo for making an impact on our planet Earth.

11 people found this helpful

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A follow up to White Fragility that's just as weak

To start this review, I'd like to start with the only positive. Robin DiAngelo is a great reader.

Now with that out of the way, lets get into the meat of the book, and why this was horribly painful to listen to.

1. This book is unapologetically from the white perspective. Not that this is a bad choice, per se, but because of this view, DiAngelo Hamstrings any meaningful systematic analysis. Where, postcolonial writers such as Said or Fanon highlight the systematic issues that serve to perpetuate racism, DiAngelo presupposes this as a personal hurdle that White people must overcome and accept. For example, Fanon in "Black Skin White Masks" Fanon highlights the problem with the Creole language. Where, France's empire destroyed culture and language and forced upon its colonized subjects, a hamstrung, impure, and savage French. Within the empire, Creole is a savage language to be corrected and children in school are taught "correct" French and one must learn "correct" French to make it in France proper. However, faced with this evidence, DiAngelo would likely say to accept Creole as a unique and beautiful language that equals loving that Black Carribeans were forced to have that as their language. Fanon, on the other hand, sees the disgusting historical contingency of the language and has little opinion on whether or not its a valid language. What he sees, is the problematic system that created the language, and seeks to revolutionize the system to create acceptance himself. The problem is, ultimately, is the system itself, not how much you can empathise with people and accept difference.

2. This is a book about breaking free from ideology, that's pure ideology. Throughout the book, DiAngelo recommends readers understand and break free from White ideology through knowledge, ironically, there is another writer that recommends a similar approach who couldn't be more different, Slavoj Zizek. However, where DiAngelo differs, is that unlike Zizek, she sees evidence and hurriedly makes it work within what is fundamentally the status quo where Zizek would make a deeper systemic argument. DiAngelo fundamentally sees racism as something borne from capitalism and neoliberalism (she doesn't outright say this) but fails to take the next step of critiquing said system. Zizek doesn't write about race, but he makes deeper fundamental arguments about ideology and how to deal with it. DiAngelo, knowingly or not, posits solutions that accept racialization as an almost ontological necessity of being. Her solutions are all about listening and reading about and from BIPOC (ironic considering that many BIPOC writers I read would despise her point of view, viscerally. I'm Filipino and this is a horrible eyeroll of a book). Whereas Zizek would look past the current racialization and critique the system causing the racialization itself. That is, not to "not see color" but rather be more thoughtful and see how recognizing historical conditions is more important than having a BIPOC accountability parter. His solutions might include not even engaging with the current system by doing absolutely nothing as a form of radical protest, following the example given by Bartleby in "Bartleby, the Scrivener" by Melville. To put simply, seek revolution with the system itself, not a system within the system.

3. More than ideology, this is a book ultimately about the corporate world and not helpful overall. The irony of DiAngelo is how she talks about her working class background. Where she grew up poor but somehow got to her conclusion of fixing racial conditions instead of material conditions by thinking about how much harder it would've been if she were black. This is painful and almost sad. However, this entire book is essentially how to not annoy your fellow office workers who work salaried jobs and live relatively cushy lives, sans living with racism. There's a certain self awareness that needs to be had, where being anti-racist by encouraging your company to have its office get diversity training by Robin DiAngelo and her BIPOC friends is not fundamentally helping BIPOC people who are getting worked to the bone in working class jobs being waiters, delivery drivers, construction workers, and more. Their surplus labor being exploited perhaps worse than their white counterparts, but are also being exploited as well. A lot of the racism leveraged against POCs is economically based, where the stereotypical Mexican immigrant might be say, a farm worker. The thing about this is that, Trump can say, "They're not sending their best!" and call upon this stereotype, where people despite not agreeing with his racist conclusions, can still agree about the uneducated workers being potentially a problem. Would fixing the economic realities and point of view we have of these working-class jobs not fix the underlying racism therein? That seems to be much more impactful than the complex posturing that DiAngelo has laid out. Let's just say that, it wasn't a coincidence that when I was learning about MLK growing up in the US, that he was scrubbed of all his views on economic justice, and said views were not about making sure there were more black CEOs and managers, but that people were treated fairly by their jobs, their working-class jobs.

Skip this book if you want to learn about racism. You've got better people to read, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Dipesh Chakrabarty, and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak to name some.

6 people found this helpful

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Interesting

Too bad most will comply to what is written and spoken. They will become defensive, they will deny any account of truth. We’re all in a sad situation together.

6 people found this helpful

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Great addition to white fragility

My friends tell me that I can put some things into words that nobody can. This is what Robin does so greatly. She takes a steady work woman type approach with examples and background to explain to white progressives why they don’t get a pass on being racists just for being liberals. Great listen. I, a black man, am better for it.

5 people found this helpful

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Open minded people? This book is for you!

Dr. Robin DiAngelo brilliantly illustrates how many People of Color regularly experience open minded white people, who do not think they are racist, and poses reflective questions and actions for all readers to consider. Robin DiAngelo clearly explains why many white peoples' behaviors can cause harm, even when they think they're not being racist. The myriad of racial nuances are explored by Robin DiAngelo, including many personal experiences that are relatable, especially if white people are willing to look at themselves in a honest way. For white people who would like to be less racially offensive, please read "Nice Racism" and choose to take meaningful action. As a Person of Color reading this book, I found Robin DiAngelo's words to be incredibly affirming and validating. I felt seen and heard, and also asked myself many of the questions, including how I have internalized racism and anti-blackness, and how I can be a stronger ally and accomplice to my fellow Black and Indigenous People of Color.

5 people found this helpful

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An important resource

As a BIPOC person working in equity (I'm tired), I'm interested in finding resources that are comprehensive and honest, that challenge white "allies" to dig deeper and commit to seeing themselves more clearly within a very complicated and abusive system of power—this is a good one. In fact, after finishing the book, I immediately recommended it (strongly) to leadership of a white-led org I work with.

3 people found this helpful

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More accessible than White Fragility if you aren’t an academic

I loved this! I found it to be much more accessible than White Fragility (which was great) for someone who doesn’t come from an academic background. It was still as well researched, cited, and written but I was able to retain more and even will be purchasing the physical book to take notes and look into the people she cites. All in all, highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JD
  • 01-04-22

Excellent learning

I liked hearing Robin DiAngelo reading her own work - straightforward, and even sharing personal examples of her own mistakes and repairs. I learned much about how I can continue to be aware of my own racism, even though it can be uncomfortable, and take action to change. I would highly recommend this book to any white body willing to learn and do better.

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Enlightening but not mind-blowing

When I first read DiAngelo's book, White Fragility, I was over the moon. Here was a person, a white person, who was accurately accounting and bearing witness to a phenomenon that I, as a Black woman and equity worker, have seen for years. Nice Racism is a worthy continuation of DiAngelo's work.

Again, she brings to light important information about how white people engage with racism and provides practical advise for how white people can be accountable in their anti-racism work. There were a few times when I felt her comments were a bit too snarky or based in her own personal bias. Overall, however, this is a great book that I have already asked friends and colleagues to read.

1 person found this helpful

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excellent analysis of the American society

loved it. great perspective and outstanding narration. I will highly recommend this book to anyone open to view the American society thru the eyes of a black man

1 person found this helpful