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Equity & Difference

White Fragility

Wed. Oct. 26, 2016      7:30 p.m.

Kane Hall 130, UW Campus

Robin DiAngelo, ’95, Ph.D. ’04

Director of Equity, Sound Generations, Seattle/King County

This event has reached capacity and online registration is now closed. As a courtesy, there will be a wait list. You will be invited to add your name to the list beginning 45 minutes prior to the lecture at the check-in desk in the lobby of Kane Hall.

White people in the U.S. live in a racially insular environment. Because of this environment of rarely challenged racial perspectives, a stamina needed to tolerate racial stress is too often underdeveloped. Dr. Robin DiAngelo conceptualizes this lack of stamina as “White fragility.” White fragility triggers a range of defensive moves including: argumentation, invalidation, silence, withdrawal and claims of being “attacked” and “unsafe.” While these moves are effective at blocking the challenge and regaining our racial equilibrium, they are also damaging to people of color and prevent the development of skills we need to create a racially just society. Dr. DiAngelo will overview the socialization that leads to white fragility and provide the perspectives needed for more constructive cross-racial interactions.

Robin DiAngelo is a dynamic and provocative speaker addressing the highly charged topic of what it means to be white in a society that proclaims race meaningless, yet is deeply divided by race. Speaking as a white person, DiAngelo clearly and compellingly takes her audience through an analysis of white socialization — what she calls white racial illiteracy. She describes how race shapes the lives of white people, explains what makes racism so hard for whites to see, identifies common white racial patterns and speaks back to popular white narratives that work to deny racism. With remarkable skill she helps participants to see the “water” that obscures how racism works in our daily lives – the miseducation about what racism actually is: ideologies such as individualism and colorblindness, defensiveness and the tendency to protect (rather than expand) our worldviews.

DiAngelo’s scholarship and research in Whiteness Studies has been concerned with the challenges of an increasingly white teaching force and an increasingly diverse student population. A former associate professor of multicultural education, DiAngelo was twice honored with the Student’s Choice Award for Educator of the Year at the University of Washington. In addition to her academic work, DiAngelo has been a workplace diversity and racial justice consultant and trainer for over 20 years. In this capacity she was appointed to co-design, develop and deliver the Race and Social Justice Initiative anti-racism training for the City of Seattle.

DiAngelo has numerous publications and just released her second book, “What Does it Mean to be White? Developing White Racial Literacy.” Her previous book (with Özlem Sensoy), “Is Everyone Really Equal: An Introduction to Social Justice Education” received the Critics’ Choice Award by the American Educational Studies Association. Her work on White Fragility has appeared in Alternet,, NPR, Colorlines, Huffington Post and The Good Men Project.

Brought to you by the UW Graduate School and the UWAA, Equity & Difference is a series of talks that expose and explain transgressions and struggles—both systematic and personal—experienced by too many in our communities today, featuring thought leaders from our campus and around the world who are working to open our eyes to the consequences of prejudice, and seeking solutions for change. The Autumn 2016 lectures focus on the issues and intersection of privilege and politics.

UWAA and UWRA members receive advance registration for lectures.

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For more information, contact the UW Alumni Association at 206-543-0540 or