Sex and beauty

For the unbegotten and incorporeal beauty, that knows neither beginning nor decay, but is unchangeable and ageless and without need, He who abides in Himself and is Light itself in secret and unapproachable places, embracing all things in the orbit of His power, creating and arranging them—He it is who made the soul in the image of His likeness. This is why it is endowed with reason and immortality; for, fashioned…in the image of the Only-Begotten, it has an unsurpassed loveliness.

St. Methodius. The Symposium: A Treatise on Chastity

While this quote comes from A Treatise on Chastity¸ I am going to end up in quite a different place.

God is beautiful. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty.

The Lord is beautiful. In his perfection of beauty he created. The Master Artificer fashioned man and woman in his image and likeness- in beauty. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Creation flows from the Beautiful One. Supreme in loveliness, God is not a narcissist. Beauty is not closed off or opaque. Beauty is open. Beauty creates. Beauty gives life.

Sex is beautiful. Sex is beautiful because man and woman-as mankind-are made in God’s image: the beautiful One who creates and gives life. The command to be fruitful and multiply is a command to be like God.

Now perhaps I tread close to the wrong-headed teaching that the only virtue of sex is procreation. As if rabbits are the holiest of all God’s creatures. That is not where I am going, but I understand how the church got there.

Beauty is ordered. If sex is beautiful, it is ordered. It is ordered by the command given to a husband and wife. One man and one woman.

Homosexuality is sinful. It is not sinful because it is gross, or weird, or abominable. It is abominable because it is not beautiful; it is not creative. It is anti-God. Homosexuality is fundamentally selfish in that it is inherently non-creative. Beauty gives life. Homosexuality is impotent.

Sex with a man and his wife is beautiful. Two people, fundamentally different yet essentially the same, submit to the will of the Creator and are open to an intruder into their love. Not content with the love and compassion shared between them, a man and a woman do something beautiful. A man and a woman join together and bring into their love a third.

In the splendor of beauty God creates. God creates a man and a woman in his beautiful image and ordains they create. In unsurpassed beauty, God’s creation images him in creating.

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Meditation on a ruptured Achilles: thoughts of the temporarily disabled.

On February 19th I ruptured my Achilles tendon playing basketball. Six days later I had surgery to “sew” it back together. About six days from now, I might be out of my walking boot and back into shoes. Having a ruptured Achilles has slowed me down. I’ve gone from a walking boot, to hard splint, back to a walking boot. It has given me an opportunity to briefly walk in the shoes, or shoe, of the disabled.

People are inconsiderate. Inconsiderate is the best word I can think of. People are not rude to me, they are just inconsiderate. People think of themselves and their situation and not the other person.

Don’t get me wrong, some people are more than inconsiderate. Like my boss who asked me the very day I had my hard splint off and went back into a walking boot if I could go back to regular work-duty now.

Most people are just inconsiderate. Most people mean no malice. They do not seem to think poorly of me, or look down on me, or try to trip me, they just do not think of me as needing anything out of the ordinary. People are not rude, at least not intentionally; they just do not care about those in need.

Maybe it is just me. Maybe I should have missed more work. Maybe I shouldn’t be so introverted and stoic. Maybe people do care for those who are truly disabled. Maybe abled people do look out for those missing limbs and not for those whose ailment is obviously temporary. I don’t know.

But I hope this temporary injury makes me more considerate. I hope I become more compassionate. Especially toward those who are suffering.

 

The waters of judgement and restoration

I change up my Bible reading every year- do something different to try to break up the monotony. Every 3 or 4 years I will read 10 chapters a day- which takes me through the OT twice in a year and the New Testament almost 4 times. It is good because you are always reading something different, even when you are reading chapters you have already read that year. It is bad because it is 10 chapters spread out over all the Bible…and the mind can wander.

To combat the wandering I look for particular themes. I am always looking for Trinitarian passages; Day of the Lord passages; and in Proverbs I am looking for verses that talk about wine. I am also looking for connections between passages that I would not otherwise see. Today was a fruitful day for such a connection: water. Following are the passages I read today that spoke about water. It is quite the story of sin, judgment, repentance, and restoration.

Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12-13)

The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. She sits at the door of her house; she takes a seat on the highest places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” And to him who lacks sense she says, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9:13-18)

The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  (Luke 16:22-25)

 “Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:1-3)

God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, Selah the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, before God, the One of Sinai, before God, the God of Israel. Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Your procession is seen, O God, the procession of my God, my King, into the sanctuary— the singers in front, the musicians last, between them virgins playing tambourines: “Bless God in the great congregation, the LORD, O you who are of Israel’s fountain!” (Psalm 68:6-10, 24-26)

White Fragility: chapters 7-12

Chapters 7-12 went by rather quickly and are summarized here. Chapter 7 further repeats elements of white fragility: responses of anger, withdraw, emotional incapacitation, guilt, argumentation, and cognitive dissonance. White people tend to resort to one of these coping mechanisms whenever they are challenged in racial discussion. Chapter 8 further repeats elements of white fragility by focusing on “trauma.” White people react so strongly to racially difficult situations, that “trauma” becomes a frequent description of their response. White people are emotionally and physically moved by such confrontations. Chapter 9 is a further restatement of the feelings, behaviors, claims, assumptions, and functions of white fragility. Chapter 10 offers helpful critiques in framing and guiding discussions about race with white people. I agree with pretty much everything she says. Chapter 11 further repeats elements of white fragility through the lens of white women’s tears. White women often resort to emotional outbursts to deflect and control racially difficult situations.

The final chapter, “Where do we go from here?” lays out a course for racial sensitivity. After(once again) laying out the defensive characteristics of white fragility, several guidelines are offered. Apologies must be genuine and not conditional: no, “I’m sorry if…” Secondly, white people should reflect seriously on the messages they have received, privileges they enjoy, how they have been socialized to feel superior, and how these things are showing up in their daily lives. Next is a too-brief discussion of white guilt. I appreciate the statement, “When I start from the premise that of course I have been thoroughly socialized into the racist culture in which I was born, I no longer need to expend energy denying that fact. I am eager—even excited—to identify my inevitable collusion so that I can figure out how to stop colluding!” We are then told that there is no such thing as a good white person. To be white is to be racist. The only hope for a white person is to be less white.

White Fragility addresses an important topic. Unfortunately, it falls short in offering meaningful solutions. White people are inherently racist. White people revolt in disgust and denial whenever this racism is challenged. After establishing the facts of the case (and I do believe they are facts) DiAngelo spends multiple chapters restating the facts through lenses of various illustrations. In the concluding chapter, DiAngelo tells white people not to feel bad about being inherently racist; that white people cannot not be racist; and that white people should continue to try harder to not be racist. It is a rather hopeless conclusion to a vexing issue. As a book, White Fragility suffers from repetitiveness. The main text is scarcely 150 pages, but just as well could have been 75. As a way forward, White Fragility suffers from hopelessness. If to be white in a white society is to be racist, how on earth am I to suddenly find the answer to my whiteness by just trying hard to not be white?

A Christian Reading of White Fragility: chapter 6.

Chapter 6, “Anti-Blackness” addresses the sting in the tail of white racism. In understated ways, DiAngelo has recognized that all people groups tend to view themselves as normal and other as abnormal. Racism, in some form or another, is the default human condition. We all look at other races in particular ways. White racism against African Americans is particularly virulent because white racism is anti-black. “In the white mind, black people are the ultimate racial ‘other.’” A 2015 study found that the highest level of segregation in American society is between blacks and whites, the lowest is between Asians and whites, while the level of segregation between whites and Latino occupied an intermediate position.  “A majority of white, in both the expression of their beliefs and the practice of their lives, do not want to integrate with blacks.”

DiAngelo asserts that the fundamental driving force of anti-blackness is white guilt. White people, as a race, feel guilt about what they have done and continue to do and their complicity in the past and continuing torture and subjugation of black people, as a race. White people, as a whole, hate black people, as a whole, because of what blackness reminds white people of: that we are guilty of perpetrating immeasurable harm and that our gains have come through the subjugation of others.

One way to assuage white guilt is to view black people as those we can “save” through our own mercy. DiAngelo uses the film The Blind Side to illustrate the common ways we denigrate black people and see them as in desperate need of white rescue. When poor black youths do succeed, it is often through the goodness of white labors. The Blind Side reinforces many common white avenues of domination through patronization:

  • White people are the saviors of black people
  • Some black children may be innocent, but black adults are morally and criminally corrupt
  • Whites who are willing to save or otherwise help black people, at seemingly great personal cost, are noble, courageous, and morally superior to other whites
  • Individual black people can overcome their circumstances, but usually only with the help of white people
  • Black neighborhoods are inherently dangerous and criminal
  • Virtually all blacks are poor, incompetent, and unqualified for their jobs; they belong to gangs, are addicted to drugs, and are bad parents
  • The most dependable route for black males to escape the “inner city” is through sports
  • White people are willing to deal with individual “deserving” black people, but whites do not become a part of the black community in any meaningful way (beyond charity work)

Having never seen The Blind Side, I cannot speak to DiAngelo’s evaluation of it. Her list of charges have the ring of truth about them though. I have seen these things in other media, and felt them to varying degrees in my own life and experience.

This chapter, like those preceding it, does not offer any solution to the problem- perhaps that will come later. Nevertheless, the chapter is shot-through with the language of sin, guilt, and salvation. Throughout the chapter, DiAngelo is careful to couch her accusations corporately: white people as a whole are antagonistic toward black people as a whole. How then, does a 21st century white person find redemption for sins committed historically and corporately? How does a 21st century African American grant forgiveness for sins committed historically and corporately? How can white people repent? How can black people forgive? I am not sure DiAngelo will have the answers to these questions.

A Christian Reading of “White Fragility” chapter 5: The Good/Bad Binary

Chapter 5 is another chapter that seems like it could have come earlier in the book. One of DiAngelo’s foundational points is that racism is systemic, not a singular event. She describes singular events as demonstrations of prejudice and discrimination. Such acts are fueled and enabled by racist attitudes, but racism is a system of oppression. Viewing racism as individual acts of hatred and discrimination allows racism to survive and thrive. Few white people commit intentional acts of malice against minorities. Since most white people do not do these bad things, they do not consider themselves racist. They are not bad, therefore they are good. If racism is an act carried out by ignorant, bigoted, old, white, Southerners; young, educated, open-minded, Northerners don’t have to worry about being racist.

Two broad categories feed into the good/bad binary. The first is color blindness. This person makes claims like:

  • I was taught to treat everyone the same
  • I don’t see color
  • Race doesn’t mean anything to me
  • Focusing on race is what divides us

The second category is color-celebrate. People with this mindset will make statements like:

  • I work in a very divers environment
  • I have people of color in my family/married a person of color/have children of color
  • I was in the military
  • I used to live in New York [the big city]
  • We don’t like how white our neighborhood is, but we had to move here for the schools.
  • I marched in the sixties
  • We adopted from…
  • I was on a mission in Africa

All of these kind of claims “exempt the person from any responsibility for or participation in the problem.” After listing these responses (and quite a few more) DiAngelo spends the rest of the chapter poking holes (effectively) in some of the most common responses she encounters.

One of her examples is cross-racial friendships. She mentions that even those with cross-racial friendships seldom discuss race. Another example that she does not mention, is the depth of such friendships. In my life, especially in high school, I had a number of relationships I would describe as cross-racial. But I never went to their house for supper, nor did they come to mine. As a Christian, I know the importance, value, and signal, of table fellowship; it was something I never pursued while growing up with African-American friends. It was something I never felt a loss over either. I was happy to share time and life in the experience we shared together- basically school related activities- but never pursued sharing in their lives as they lived them.

DiAngelo ends with a helpful paragraph about viewing racism as a continuum. I am fully on-board with the inadequacies of viewing racism as individual events of intentioned malice. Such acts are committed because of deeper forces at work in the soul of man and society. Yet I am still apprehensive with viewing racism as a system of oppression. When it is described in such ways, escape almost seems hopeless. Seeing yourself on a continuum of racism opens up possibilities of escape. When racism is a continuum, and not a good/bad binary choice, my position toward racism is more immediate. Racism as a continuum changes the question from, “Am I racist?” to, “Am I actively seeking to interrupt racism in this context?” And how will I know?

A Christian reading of White Fragility: chapter 4, How Does Race Shape the Lives of White People?

Chapter 4 was pretty bad. I hope that is turns out to be the worst chapter of the book, because if there are worse chapters I don’t think I will be able to bear them. It was bad.

The key word in chapter 4 is “belonging.” White people have a deep, abiding, and consequential feeling of belonging to society in America because it is by-and-large their society. White people do not feel any burden about being white: they are never really in a situation where their whiteness is to their detriment. White people can go (pretty much) anywhere and do (pretty much) anything comfortably. White people consider themselves as normal people because white culture is normative in America. White people maintain this status quo through “white solidarity.” The force and demonstration of white solidarity is silence. White people do not speak out against other white people when obviously racist jokes, ideas, stories, etc. are shared.  

Most of these things should be considered “normal” for any majority population. Breaking news: most Han Chinese in Beijing consider themselves normal and as the standard for Chinese life. The Bemba peoples in southern Africa consider themselves normal and their way of like as normal. The Farsi people in Iran consider themselves normal.

If DiAngelo’s intention in the first ¾ of the chapter is to describe how all of this is part of our original sin, I don’t buy it. This is standard operating procedure. This is how things are everywhere. People view life from their own perspective.

DiAngelo does do some work to show the dangers of this reality, however. The truth of something does not mean all the ramifications are acknowledged. White people need to recognize and admit that race gives them inherent advantages. Hence, those of other races are at some inherent disadvantage. That white people can feel so comfortable without the presence of or interaction with other races is telling. While it is no longer legal, segregation is still practiced by and comfortable to white people.

Patterns of white socialization form the foundations of white fragility:

·         Preference for racial segregation, and a lack of a sense of loss about segregation

·         Lack of understanding about what racism is

·         Seeing ourselves as individuals, exempt from the forces of racial socialization

·         Failure to understand that we bring our group’s history with us, that history matters

·         Assuming everyone is having or can have our experience

·         Lack of racial humility, and unwillingness to listen

·         Dismissing what we don’t understand

·         Lack of authentic interest in the perspectives of people of color

·         Wanting to jump over the hard, personal work and get to “solutions”

·         Confusing disagreement with not understanding

·         Need to maintain white solidarity, to save face, to look good

·         Guilt that paralyzes or allows inaction

·         Defensiveness about any suggestion that we are connected to racism

·         A focus on intentions over impact

A Christian Reading of White Fragility: chapter 3, Racism after the Civil Rights Movement

Chapter 3 is a fitting follow-up to chapter two’s blunt accusations. Chapter 3 is the “I’m not racist, but…” chapter. Aren’t we post-racial? Segregation has been illegal for over a generation now. We are enlightened now. DiAngelo discusses three forms of racism still binding the thoughts of white people.

Color-blind racism ignores the circumstances of reality. In the introduction, DiAngelo surprisingly claims that white progressives cause the most daily damage to black people. To the degree that white progressives see themselves as having arrived, they put their energy into making sure others see them as having arrived. I have certainly seen that phenomenon at places like The Gospel Coalition’s website (tgc.org).  Young and middle-aged white men seem to occasionally engage in woke-off contests seeing who can lay claim to being the most racially aware.

Color blind racists claim to see no color. I don’t see a black man in front of me, I just see another human being: someone just like me. Such thinking is counter-productive and offers little solace. When white people claim to see no color, it denies the life experiences of African Americans and attempts to project the realities of white experience on people of color. Color-blind ideology makes it difficult to address unconscious beliefs formed through years of socialization.

Aversive racism is wink-and-nod racism. Aversive racism makes use of code words, euphuisms, and communal inside language to identify and marginalize African Americans. That side of town, urban, underprivileged, diverse, sketchy, as opposed to the good side of town, sheltered, safe, etc. No one ever says “where all the black people are” because no one has to. All of the participants in the conversation know what is being said, even as it is never mentioned. Because we are enlightened we would never say such things; so we just say such things without saying them. Holding this deep racially motivated suspicion while leaving it unspoken, offers little hope of escaping such thought patterns.

Cultural racism is “backstage” racism: it is practiced in all-white company. Here, the codes and symbols of aversive racism are discarded because white people see themselves in a safe place free from the threat of judgment or retribution. Jokes that depend on racial stereotypes are told, and laughed at, and not spoken against. Racially derogatory terms are used. These backstage performances create white solidarity and reinforce the ideals of white supremacy. Racism is kept in circulation in less formal, but more powerful ways. “Today we have a cultural norm that insists we hide our racism from people of color and deny it among ourselves, but not that we actually challenge it. In fact, we are socially penalized for challenging racism.”

These three forms of wink-and-nod racism help establish one of the pillars of white fragility: the refusal to know.

A Christian reading of White Fragility: chapter 2, Racism and White Supremacy

Chapter 2 was a mixed bag for me. I resonated with some arguments, was enlightened by others, and disagreed with a few.

DiAngelo begins with an important reminder: “there is no true biological race.” I freely admit that I am not as conversant in genetic biological research as I perhaps should be, but such a statement certainly seems to agree with the Holy Spirit’s assertion that God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth.”

Creedally, America was built on the ideals of freedom and inequality. In practice, “the U.S. economy was based on the abduction and enslavement of African people, the displacement and genocide of Indigenous people, and annexation of Mexican lands.” I would put it a little more delicately than that, but the statements are materially true. And I have personally found that putting it more delicately does not really matter because when I tried to do so several years ago, such sentiments contributed to my being asked to find another church to attend.[1] Christians, white Christians, do not like to hear such things. But we need to. America has never, ever, been a Christian nation.

The end of the first section contains a crucial argument that should be helpful in opening our eyes to the systemic racism of white America: “if we truly believe that all humans are equal, then disparity in condition can only be the result of systemic discrimination.” If I could, I would highlight that to the moon, and most of the way back. If a minority group is consistently and widely behind a majority group in income, standard of living, life expectancy, etc. they must be somehow inferior to the majority group, or the majority group has implemented systemic controls to keep the minority group “behind.” I tend to see things in black-and-white (no pun intended) and find comfort in doing do; but I still think this is true.

Again, if America is a land of freedom and opportunity where anyone can succeed: why do African Americans consistently lag behind white Americans in all desirable measurements of success and achievement? If it is not because there are systems in place that keep them behind, then it can only be they either choose to live broken lives or they are incapable of it simply because of who they are.

After spending a fair amount of time trying to describe what racism isn’t, DiAngelo finally approaches a definition. When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intentions or self-images of individual actors.” Racism is a system enforced through legal authority and institutional control. In the United States, “only  whites have the collective social and institutional power and privilege over people of color. People of color do not have this power and privilege over white people.” This is racism- systemic , and institutional control and power of one race over any another.

In America, whiteness is the standard or norm for what it means to be human and people of color are a deviation from that norm. Here, the author seems to be a little narrow-minded. This is analogously true in every nation of the world. In China, Han is the standard or norm. In Iran, Persian is standard or norm. In Jordan, Arab is the standard or norm. Toward the end of the chapter, she tells the story of a white mother being embarrassed that her child would point out the black skin of a stranger. It is presumed that this is embarrassing because the blackness of his skin is seen as undesirable and shameful. Or maybe 3 year olds just point out things that are different than they are used to seeing. A similar thing happened to me while I was living in China. On the major holiday, invariably Beijing would be swarmed by multitudes of Chinese who lived in villages far away from the modern life of the big city. On numerous occasions, some of these children would see me, point at me, and whisper to their parents, “foreigner!” Was it because China has an epidemic of three-year-old racists? No, I imagine it was simply due to the fact that I was a different kind of person than they were used to seeing.

There is a majority of one particular group in every nation. Guess what? That group usually sets the rules for everyone else. It would have been nice to see some of that nuance in the discussion of “white normalcy.”

As a Christian who has done missionary work, I was also put-off by DiAngelo’s inclusion of missionary work along with “movies and mass media, corporate culture, advertising, US-owned manufacturing, military presence, historical colonial relations…and other means” as a vehicle for spreading white supremacy around the world. Have some missionaries been guilty of spreading white American churchianity rather than the gospel? Certainly, and that is something I was always warned about in all my studies.

Someone, sometime, somewhere, will have to do the hard work of detailing how the gospel has shaped and formed Western (white) culture. All cultures are different, and all cultures have things that are naturally closer or further from the biblical ideal. For example, the Middle Eastern cultural aspect of hospitality is much closer to the biblical ideal than the Western cultural aspect of individualism. The African and Asian patterns of honoring age, is much closer to the biblical ideal than the American pattern of idolizing youth. White, Western, Christians cannot shy-away from the fact that they are heirs of centuries of gospel-influence. Just as they cannot ignore the fact that no nation is Christian, and no culture infallible. This is a struggle that I cannot expect a secular academic to wrestle with, however.

A final word: I found one illustration particularly relevant and helpful. Since white people view whiteness as normal, we tend to white-wash (ahem) history. To help us in that endeavor, we are not afraid to emphasize the heroics of certain African Americans ignoring our own villainy. Case in point is Jackie Robinson. Robinson is depicted as the first black man who had what it took to play professional baseball with whites, as if no one before him was strong enough to compete at that level. The story is never presented as: “Jackie Robinson, the first black man whites allowed to play major-league baseball.” Only one of those two versions is true; and it is not the one you tell or are told.

 

[1] I believe I phrased it, “America: founded on rebellion, built by slavery, expanded through genocide, enriched by abortion.”

White Fragility chapter 1: The Challenge of Talking to White People About Racism

In chapter 1, DiAngelo strikes the balance between confrontation and comfort. After reading the chapter, I am even more encouraged about progressing through the book. DiAngelo discusses three key terms in the chapter: individualism, objectivism, socialization.

Socialization is at work among all peoples everywhere. Socialization organizes, identifies, and values people in groups. These social groupings include: young and old, male and female, rich and poor, abled and disabled, etc.  While the valuations might vary across time and place, valuations are made. In Western society, young is better than old, male is better than female, white is better than black. Every culture socializes. White people must recognize and acknowledge this phenomenon. White people must recognize that in America forces of socialization make them the valued people and non-whites less valued.

Within American culture, individualism and objectivism further blind white people to the results of racism. Objectivism is the belief that we can see things objectively and impartially. DiAngelo only mentions this force and never really develops it. I would hesitate to classify objectivism as particular to American culture; or as stronger in American culture than in most others.

Individualism is where DiAngelo makes hay, and there is plenty of hay to be made.  Individualism is a particular emphasis of American culture, indeed one of the most prominent features of it. Individualism holds that every individual is unique and in control of his own destiny. Individualism maintains that things like race, class, gender, and social groups, have no bearing on opportunity to succeed. DiAngelo does not make use of it, but the illustration that comes to my mind is Clarence Thomas, or Barack Obama. The white American can point to either and say, “See! If he can do it, any black man can do it. They just need to put their mind to it.”

It is a devilish cycle: our fate is intimately connected to our social groupings, but our mantra is “I can be whatever I want to be.” Because we believe the one, we ignore the other. We believe a fact, but ignore the truth.

DiAngelo’s final section should probably take the place of the introduction. I can see some curious readers being put-off by the introduction. “Here we go again, tell me why I am to blame for all the world’s problems and what an awful person I am.” This attitude, however, springs from our faulty definition of racism: the definition of racism that we have embrace to protect us against the charge of being racist. As long as we define a racist as someone who consciously harms another person because of his race, we will revolt against the charge.

While she does not give her definition of racism, enough comfort is offered to lead on the soul that seeks genuine dialogue and change. To prepare the ground for that dialogue, DiAngelo ask several penetrating questions about the discomfort white people have in talking about race: “Why does this unsettle me? What would it mean for me if this were true? How does this change my understanding of racial dynamics? How can my unease help reveal the unexamined assumptions I have been making? Is it possible that because I am white, there are some racial dynamics that I can’t see? Am I willing to consider that possibility? If I am not willing to do so, then why not?”