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Robin J. DiAngelo (born September 8, 1956)[1] is an American academic, lecturer, and author working in the fields of critical discourse analysis and whiteness studies.[2][3] She formerly served as a tenured professor of multicultural education at Westfield State University. She is known for her work pertaining to white fragility, a term which she coined in 2011.

Robin J. DiAngelo
Born (1956-09-08) September 8, 1956 (age 63)
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Washington
Academic work
InstitutionsWestfield State University,
University of Washington
Notable ideas"white fragility"

Education and careerEdit

DiAngelo received her Ph.D. in multicultural education from the University of Washington in 2004, with a dissertation entitled "Whiteness in racial dialogue: a discourse analysis".[4] Her Ph.D. committee was chaired by James A. Banks.[3] In 2007, she joined the faculty of Westfield State University,[5] where she was named a tenured professor of multicultural education in 2014. She later resigned from her position at Westfield.[3] She has since taught part-time at the University of Washington's School of Social Work.[6] In addition to teaching classes, she frequently gives seminars discussing racism, which she argues is embedded throughout America's political systems and culture.[2] As of February 2017, she was also the director of Equity for Sound Generations in Seattle, Washington.[7]


DiAngelo is known for her work regarding "white fragility", a term she coined in a 2011 peer-reviewed paper.[8][9][10] She has defined the concept of white fragility as "a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves." As of 2016, she regularly gives workshops on the topic.[11][12]

In 2018, DiAngelo published the book White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.[13]


In a 2019 article for The New Yorker, the columnist Kelefa Sanneh characterized DiAngelo as "perhaps the country's most visible expert in anti-bias training, a practice that is also an industry, and from all appearances a prospering one". He suggested that in using the concept of "people of color", DiAngelo "reduces all of humanity to two categories: white and other" and that she presents people of color as "sages, speaking truths that white people must cherish, and not challenge." Sanneh was also critical of what he saw as DiAngelo's tendency to be "endlessly deferential—for her, racism is basically whatever any person of color thinks it is".[14]

The economist and journalist Jonathan Church has published multiple articles appraising her "white fragility" thesis as a fallacy of reification brigaded by faulty science.[15][16]


  • DiAngelo, R. (2012). What Does it Mean to be White?: Developing White Racial Literacy. Counterpoints (New York, N.Y.). Peter Lang. ISBN 978-1-4331-1116-7.
  • DiAngelo, R. (2018). White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. Beacon Press. ISBN 978-0-8070-4741-5.
  • Sensoy, O.; DiAngelo, R. (2017). Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education, Second Edition. Multicultural Education Series. Teachers College Press. ISBN 978-0-8077-5861-8.


  1. ^ "Robin J. DiAngelo". Library of Congress.
  2. ^ a b Demby, Gene (23 November 2016). "Is It Racist To Call Someone 'Racist'?". NPR.
  3. ^ a b c "About Me".
  4. ^ DiAngelo, Robin (2004). Whiteness in racial dialogue: a discourse analysis (Ph.D. thesis). University of Washington.
  5. ^ "Education Faculty & Staff". Westfield State University. Archived from the original on 2014-11-24.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  6. ^ Greenberg, Alissa (5 April 2017). "What the Woman Who Invented the Term "White Fragility" Thinks About Trump". The Stranger.
  7. ^ Powers, Zach (16 February 2017). "The People's Gathering: A Revolution of Consciousness". Tacoma Weekly.
  8. ^ DiAngelo, Robin (2011). "White Fragility". The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 3 (3).
  9. ^ Adler-Bell, Sam. "Why White People Freak Out When They're Called Out About Race". Alternet.
  10. ^ Bouie, Jamelle (13 March 2016). "How Trump Happened". Slate.
  11. ^ Springer, Dan (17 August 2016). "Seattle offers classes on 'white fragility,' to explain roots of guilt".
  12. ^ Hanchard, Jenna (28 July 2016). "Local workshop explores 'white fragility'". King5.
  13. ^ Waldman, Katy (23 July 2018). "A Sociologist Examines the "White Fragility" That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism". New Yorker.
  14. ^ Sanneh, Kelefa (August 12, 2019). "The Fight to Redefine Racism". The New Yorker. Retrieved August 14, 2019.
  15. ^ Church, Jonathan (24 August 2018). "The Problem with 'White Fragility' Theory". Quillette. Retrieved 2019-06-25.
  16. ^ Church, Jonathan (21 December 2018). "The Epistemological Problem of White Fragility Theory". Retrieved 2019-06-25.

External linksEdit