Who Radicalized Robin DiAngelo? A biographical investigation into the coiner and promoter of White Fragility theory


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A character study of Robin DiAngelo, the woman behind “White Fragility,” is in order.

What follows is an investigation into DiAngelo’s family origin, childhood and adolescence, Lost Years, personality, some on career and education and relationships but with a personal focus. Novel sources and hard-to-find information extensively used.

This is a “biographical continuation” of the investigation into the history of the term she term she coined; see “White Fragility” and the Academia-to-Mainstream ‘Pipeline.’ An investigation into White Fragility Theory and its life-cycle from 2011 to 2020.

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In Pursuit of the Woman Behind White Fragility Theory. “Who Radicalized Robin DiAngelo?”

By E.H. Hail
5500 words

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Introductory: The ‘People’ behind the ‘Pipeline’

“From an obscure fringe of academia in 2011 to the mainstream by mid-2020” sums up how the term/idea/taunt/disempowerment-slogan “White Fragility” traveled through US discourse.

There were several identifiable steps, stages, critical periods. The upward inflection points were generally associated with violence. A full account of the ascent-cycle for White Fragility can be read here.

White Fragility followed a traceable path, a path which we have referred to as The Pipeline, in which ideas born or nurtured on the fringes academia, so radical or bizarre they are laughed-off at the time (if indeed any mainstream person even becomes aware of them at this stage) in time penetrate to the “mainstream.” To use a more well-known term, this is the process by which the Overton Window shifts (is shifted). A close look at the way The Pipeline works gives great lessons on how politics and discourse work in the US and the West generally.

What about the ‘people’ behind the ‘Pipeline’? Ideas travel through The Pipeline. The term ‘Pipeline’ is intended to convey that a lot of ground is covered. White Fragility doctrine wasn’t imposed on America by some edict by Robin DiAngelo out of the blue in mid-2020. As such the process cannot really be reduced to (blamed on) the actions of single actors along the way. All the same, individuals do fill certain roles at different stages of The Pipeline and it would help to understand these people. Who fills these roles? Who are these people? What motivates them?

There are several brief portraits of individuals along different stages of The Pipeline process (ascent cycle) for White Fragility, but none is more important than the term’s coiner and popularizer, ROBIN DiANGELO. This study is about her.

Who is this woman? What lessons might a close look at her background yield as to how/why she ended up devoting her life to the promotion of an aggressive strain of ethnomasochism with religious-cult tendencies? In other words, Who (or ‘what’) radicalized Robin DiAngelo?

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Robin DiAngelo? Who is That?

In “White Fragility and the Academia-to-Mainstream ‘Pipeline, (July 22) we see that Robin DiAngelo is a longtime academic in multicultural studies and related fields (her author blurb in her 2018 book says she is involved in “critical discourse analysis and whiteness studies”) and a professional Diversity Trainer. She earned several degrees in Seattle before taking a PhD (multicultural studies) in her forties.

DiAngelo’s wikipedia entry at the time of this research (June/July 2020) has few facts on her personal background. Her wiki entry was only created on March 31, 2017, about the mid-point of the third stage (of five stages) in White Fragility’s ascent cycle:

Graph showing the first four stages of the White Fragility ascent-cycle before the (not shown) major mid-2020 breakout (fifth stage)
Graph of the White Fragility ascent-cycle including the major mid-2020 breakout (fifth stage). The breakout is so large in magnitude it obscures previous trends, towering over them.

As for Robin DiAngelo’s public image, it’s fair to say that for mainstream purposes she was unknown before mid-2020. She was still so obscure, as of the late 2010s, that her wiki entry was proposed for deletion in 2019:

Robin DiAngelo’s wikipedia entry proposed for delection, March 2019. “Failure to meet notability crieria.”

“The term ‘white fragility’ does not have a significant scholarly impact.”

That was March 2019.

The 2019 call for deletion is representative of the trend identified in the companion post (“White Fragility and the Academia-to-Mainstream ‘Pipeline’”) of people not taking seriously ideas which are already in the process of moving their way through The Pipeline. This especially applies to the early phases. In this case, just 15 months before the breakthrough in the decade-long process, we find someone dismissive enough to suggest deletion for non-notability.

Needless to say, the wiki entry survived and DiAngelo would be a major name fifteen months later (by June 2020), with millions of apolitical, go-along-to-get-along, and polite centrist types all hearing of her name and/or of her White Fragility theory.

A wiki editor added on Aug. 18, 2018 that DiAngelo was known for her “notable idea” of White Fragility. This was just after she published a book by that name — and well into the ascent process.

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DiAngelo in medias res

Let’s jump ahead in the Robin DiAngelo story to the evening of July 3, 2018, shortly after DiAngelo’s book White Fragility was published. The Seattle Public Library event auditorium. The invited guest, a euphoric Robin DiAngelo.

The host is Misha Stone (born ca.1975; Jewish; librarian at the Seattle Public Library since ca.2002). Remember that she is ostensibly introducing Robin DiAngelo. These are the first words she says (0:07-0:30):

STONE: “Before we begin, I’d like to acknowledge we are gathered together on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.” [Long applause] “Let us honor their elders, past and present. We thank them for their stewardship of this land.”

When DiAngelo finally gets to speak (2:25), she piles on:

DiANGELO: “I do want to reiterate that this talk is happening on the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples.”

Why are they saying this? The talk’s topic has nothing to do with cultural anthropology of Amerindians in the Pacific Northwest at all. Do Amerindians make any appearances in the White fragility book’s index?

(Robin DiAngelo apologizing for having to give a talk on occupied Amerindian land — Seattle.)

This bizarre form of ancestor worship (“other-people’s-ancestor-worship”) to me it kind of gives away the game immediately. Stone and DiAngelo (and the attendees who enthusiastically clap for this incantation)’s message is: White people are morally illegitimate.

If you read DiAngelo’s 2011 article on White Fragility in which she first introduces the term into (fringe-)academic discourse in earnest (see companion post, section ‘2011’), or listen to her early-July 2018 talk on her book (above) or any other appearance she makes, you’ll notice something:

DiAngelo is a cult trainer.

One example of many [14:00]:

“If you are white and you have not devoted years of sustained study, struggle, and focus on this topic [racism], your opinions are necessarily very limited.”

Cult trainers talk this way. The recognizable cult pitch always goes like this: “Your views and experiences and everything you’ve learned up to now from all or almost all sources are incomplete at best and probably illegitimate and tainted. Only if you undertake intense study, with us, can you attain legitimate and moral views — and salvation.” DiAngelo could be a trainer for any number of cults. She would not have to alter her ‘pitch’ much.

When one encounters a cult trainer, one blame the cult trainer for being in the cult? It’s tempting. But in many cases at least, and in many ways, these people, too, are really victims of the cult.

Let’s try to reconstruct what went on here, how someone ended up casting her life in this unfortunate direction.

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Robin DiAngelo Becomes a Diversity Trainer, Floats around Academia

The critical event in Robin DiAngelo’s professional life came in the early 1990s at which time she was in her mid-thirties. At this time she became a “diversity trainer,” whatever that was supposed to mean then, or now.

(What “diversity trainer” really means is political commissar, training people on proper worldview on behalf of a regime or its ruling ideology and often having the power to arrange for punishment of dissenters; Heidi Beirich is another prominent defacto US political commissar who has been profiled here.)

DiAngelo’s role as diversity trainer / US political commissar / priestess of anti-racism has lasted for thirty years, now, in one permutation or another. Here she is, following her breakthrough to the mainstream, talking to The Guardian:

(Robin DiAngelo explaining her doctrine of White Fragility, June 2020.)

The Diversity field was poised for major growth when DiAngelo hopped aboard. This is how DiAngelo tells the beginning of the saga:

“I answered a call for diversity trainers from a [Washington] state department that had lost a civil rights lawsuit and been mandated to provide 16 hrs of diversity training to all their employees. They needed 40 diversity trainers to train 3,000 people.”

The role of diversity trainer is one DiAngelo has never really left. Her titles and settings have changed, as have national cultural-political conditions, but her ‘job’ or role in society has fundamentally not.

In those early early years of the Diversity Training industry and not-yet-lucrative Professional Anti-Racism, DiAngelo also worked as a birthing coach to supplement her income. This according to her husband’s website (more material of which will be used throughout the following).

Why was DiAngelo working as a birthing coach in the 1990s when she had a job as a Diversity Trainer? Clearly the latter must not have paid so well yet. Now it does in her new role as High Priestess-Maximus of Anti-Racism in the defacto civic cult of the West.

Before her entry into the world of professional anti-racism, Robin DiAngelo graduated with a BA in History and Sociology from Seattle University in June 1991. She was student commencement speaker.

DiAngelo lingered on the margins of academia in Seattle for years. She got an MA in Education from the University of Washington in 1995. Rinse, repeat. She was soon on the PhD track.

In 1997, DiAngelo surfaces in “the literature” with an academic missive against “Heterosexim,” which was radical for its time, being well before the Gay Marriage movement began (circa 2004; the Gay Marriage Movement entered into own ‘pipeline,’ eventually flipping opinion, with marginal-fringe opinions of one year becoming those of the mainstream political Center-Left ten years later and of the political Center five or so years after that).

Quoting from DiAngelo in 1997 (using the quaint nomenclature “gays and lesbians,” which if written by the late 2010s would open her up to attack from some quarters):

Within a heterosexist society, heterosexuals take for granted, and are largely unconscious of, their social and economic privilege in relation to gays and lesbians. This article attempts to reconstruct heterosexism as a heterosexual problem by exposing the subtle ways in which heterosexuals maintain, benefit, and are complicit in the oppression of gays and lesbians, regardless of intentions. It is based on a workshop co-designed by the author […]

This tiring passage is from the lead article (“Heterosexism: Address Internalized Dominance”) in the first issue in 1997 of the Journal of Progressive Human Services (a journal first published in 1990).

DiAngelo finished her PhD and graduated in May(?) 2004, also at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her PhD was is listed as in the fields of “Critical Multicultural Education; Whiteness Studies.”

When DiAngelo was doing her PhD work was about the time Whiteness Studies was first emerging. The field deals with ‘Whiteness’ by attacking it as immoral, illegitimate, and inherently oppressive. (A more honest and descriptive name would have been Anti-Whiteness Studies.) At this relatively early stage in the 2000-2004 period, Whiteness Studies was generally unknown to conservatives and when it did come up in the 2000s, it was mocked and dismissed. Fifteen to twenty years later, it’s easy to see who’s laughing last and who holds cultural power!

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Robin DiAngelo Gets Married

For most of the 1990s, DiAngelo appears to have lived with a woman named Amy M. Zimmerman. Their names appear jointly on real estate transactions and property ownership in King’s County, Washington state. Zimmerman left this arrangement in 1999 and her name was taken off the property in question. An Amy M. Zimmerman later appears in records in Seattle marrying a woman named Martha Kreiner in 2014 (Washington state narrowly approved same-sex marriage in its Nov. 2012 referendum, the only state to do so while many others who held referenda rejected it). Was Robin DiAngelo in a romantic relationship with this woman at this time? If she was, it didn’t last.

Here is a picture of Robin DiAngelo at a Gay Pride event in June 1994 (from husband’s 2012-13 “Springfield Mass Pride” documentary on which, see below):

Robin DiAngelo (left) at a June 1994 Gay Pride rally, probably in Seattle

In July 2004, shortly after finishing her PhD and about to turn forty-eight, Robin finally did get married. The groom was Jason Toews. Jason (b.1967, eleven years Robin’s junior) had grown up in the Seattle suburbs. As of 2004, he was a divorced father of two who had known Robin DiAngelo in the 1990s in an unusual way (more on this in a moment). As of 2020, they are still married.

Jason has run a low-profile but public website/blog, which includes substantial biographical material of the usual blogging type, since the mid-2000s. Much of the information in this investigative report draws from his public blog.

Here is Jason (Robin DiAngelo’s husband)’s public self-bio on his website:

“I [Jason Toews] grew up in a fundamentalist Christian working-class family in a Seattle suburb during the 70’s and 80’s; got excellent grades (I won a spelling bee in 4th grade, and I was in the Honor Roll in high school), but was not encouraged to go to college; I spent many of my happiest hours performing in a rock band […]; I married [1987] and had children while still in my 20’s; I experienced the painful loss of my marriage and my faith in my early 30’s [divorce, 1998]; soon after, I found myself strung out on anti-anxiety medication in the mental ward of Overlake Hospital; I eventually got better and married a powerful and beautiful woman who was our birthing instructor 10 years earlier […]”

The “powerful and beautiful woman who was our birthing instructor 10 years earlier” was Robin DiAngelo.

Robin DiAngelo apparently has no children. She was listed as unmarried in the 1990s. If she was marred in the 1980s, I find no mention or record or trace of it. There is some gray-area with her in regard to her Lost Years, on which more later.

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2006: “White Fragility” is Quietly Born

Jason Toews says this about his wife, Robin DiAngelo, apparently writing in 2007:

As you may know, my partner Robin is a big smartypants professor. She teaches classes on Whiteness, and leads anti-Racism workshops and other admirable stuff like that. I don’t really know all the details, but I’m sure it’s very high-minded. Anyway, when she talks about racism and sexism, occasionally some folks get kinda bent out of shape. Usually conservative people, for some reason, but I’m not sure if that’s significant.

From this entry we see that Robin DiAngelo was still running anti-Whiteness and Anti-Racism workshops and classes in the Seattle area several years after her PhD. About spring 2007 she received an offer for a professorship at Westfield State College in Massachusetts. She took it. Robin and Jason moved to Massachusetts in summer 2007, and Jason reliably blogged about it. Robin insisted on a house in Springfield to be near authentic working-class people. More on that upcoming.

It was a year before the move to Massachusetts that Robin DiAngelo, still hanging around Seattle running diversity training sessions, first puts the term White Fragility in print. The citation is:

DiAngelo, R. 2006. “‘I’m leaving!’: White fragility in racial dialogue.” (essay) in Brenda McMahon & Denise Armstrong (Eds.), Inclusion in Urban Educational Environments: Addressing Issues of Diversity, Equity, and Social Justice (pp.213-240). Centre for Leadership and Diversity at the University of Toronto. [released June 30, 2006].

This 2006 entry was in an obscure book and certainly will have had little immediate impact. (Notice the title of this volume includes the scolding but vague “addressing issues,” a term that emerged about the same time as Whiteness Studies itself and related concepts/slogans. “Addressing issues” actually means nothing. It does not mean to solve problems. It’s unclear what it means –and therein lies its power. It has become standard bureaucratese in our time.)

A longer-form follow-up and expansion to this basic White Fragility article was published in 2011, by which time DiAngelo had the confidence to capitalize it. From the 2011 paper we can trace the ascent course (see companion post “White Fragility and the Academia-to-Mainstream ‘Pipeline’“), but we see that the idea (and the idea to ‘market’ the idea as she has) was already fully formed in DiAngelo’s mind by 2006 and

DiAngelo published something highly revealing of her psychology at this point in her career, probably signaling a roughly consistent attitude since the 1990s:

I grew up poor and White. Although my class oppression has been relatively visible to me, my race privilege has not. In my efforts to uncover how race has shaped my life, I have gained deeper insight by placing race in the center of my analysis […]

(From “My Class Didn’t Trump my Race: Using Oppression to Face Privilege,” an essay [pdf] by Robin DiAngelo appearing in Multicultural Perspectives, Vol. 8 Issue 1 [2006], pp.51–56. Published by the National Association for Multicultural Education.)

To see life entirely through a prism of various kinds of oppression like this is not normal or healthy. Just as I asked a few months ago, “Who radicalized Heidi Beirich?” I’d like to ask, Whence Robin DiAngelo’s obsession with oppression?

Let’s step back in time again and try to get some real biographical insights:

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Robin DiAngelo’s Early Years and Lost Years

A curious fact about Robin DiAngelo that might be overlooked by many casual perusers of her bio: When she graduated with her BA, she was nearly 35. She was born in 1956; her BA was in 1991.

What she doing the previous fifteen years of her post-high-school life, before she pushed through with the coursework for her BA degree at Seattle University (presumably most of which occurred in the late 1980s and up to May 1991)? It’s unclear, but there are clues.

Here is what we know: Robin DiAngelo was a serious international traveler in her youth, possibly late teens and twenties. According to her husband, at one point she lived on a kibbutz — a curious statement given that she is not Jewish and on which shortly.

Also according to her husband’s website, she first showed up in Seattle in 1980 (at about age 24); what she was doing in the 1980s is unclear. Her long period of wandering from ca. the mid-1970s to ca. the mid-1980s constitute Robin DiAngelo’s Lost Years.

We know more about her 1960s and early 1970s “K-12 age” youth. Here is how DiAngelo characterizes her own childhood:

I was born to working class parents; my father was a construction worker and my mother was a switchboard operator. When I was 2, my parents divorced and my mother began to raise us on her own; at that point we entered into poverty. […]

I used to stare at the girls in my class and ache to be like them; to have a father, to wear pretty clothes, to go to camp, to be clean and get to sit with them. I knew we didn’t have enough money and that meant that I couldn’t
join them in school or go to their houses or have the same things they had.

(From “My Class Didn’t Trump my Race,” by Robin DiAngelo, 2006; appeared in journal Multicultural Perspectives.)

It’s fair to say these passages show us the outline of a worldview centered around resentment.

DiAngelo was writing there at age 48 or 49 and remembering what her childhood, thirty-five to forty-five years earlier, was like. The world she was writing about is worth a word:

She was writing about the 1960s-70s Peak America period, a time of confident white supermajority in America. A time of abundant optimism. For this reason or that reason, she felt left out — which was only exacerbated by the general optimism of the period. At least some of her childhood was spent in California (see also, “Who Lost California?“)

To get more specific, DiAngelo’s formative years, if we mark them off as between her 4th and 17th birthdays, were from 1960 to 1973. True, the latter years of this period saw ascendant leftist social movements, especially among under-30s at the time, and true, there was some degree of a Black racial movement (i.e., the Civil Rights movement) throughout the entire period including in the halcyon pre-1965 days before signs of the US cultural revolution were visible. But there also were simply not many Nonwhites around in most places. Whites of this era assumed they were invincible, an attitude those of that generation still seem to implicitly believe today.

Motivated by resentment, DiAngelo has embraced it tightly. Here she is rationalizing it again in the same “My Class Didn’t Trump my Race” 2006 essay:

“From an early age I had the sense of being an outsider; I was acutely aware that I was poor, that I was dirty, that I was not normal, and that there was something “wrong” with me. But I also knew that I was not Black. We were at the lower rungs of society, but there was always someone on the periphery, just below us. I knew that “colored” people existed and that they should be avoided.”

Another of Robin DiAngelo’s characteristic arguments is that middle- and upper-middle-class liberal whites are guilty of racism by ignoring it. This no doubt traces back to her peer-group during her upbringing as she describes it. It’s not clear where she grew up or where geographic formative places for her were. She claims to have moved a lot. (Based on her place of birth being said to be San Francisco, it may be assumed that some or much or all of her moving around was in her 1960s childhood was in California.)

DiAngelo’s husband, Jason Toews, says this, a further insight into his wife’s upbringing and less resentment-focused, writing before a 2017 trip they took:

My only other international travel had been for a wedding in Spain, with a brief side trip to France (Robin was raised Catholic and wanted to see Lourdes; my eczema was sadly not healed by divine intervention) […]

Robin DiAngelo “was raised Catholic” and, by Robin’s telling, by a single mother following a 1958/9 divorce by her parents.

At another time, we see Robin writing, “I was born on the Virgin Mary’s birthday, so how do you explain that?” I have never heard of Mary being attributed a specific birthday, which would be a Catholic thing to do. She wrote that comment in Oct. 2011, about the time she first published her White Fragility article in an obscure journal, and that would seem to firmly corroborate her own Catholic upbringing.

Here is DiAngelo, in another characteristically humorless passage in her 2006 “My Class Didn’t Trump My Race” essay, meditating on her oppressive role “collud[ing] with racism as a Catholic and a woman”:

My class position is only one social location from which I learned to collude with racism. For example, I have also asked myself how I learned to collude with racism as a Catholic and a woman. How did it shape my sense of racial belonging, of racial correctness, to be presented with God, the ultimate and universal authority, as White? How did the active erasure of Jesus’ race and ethnicity shape my racial consciousness? How did the universalization of Catholicism as the true religion for all peoples of the world engender racial superiority within me when all the authorities within that religion were White like myself? At the same time, how did my conditioning under Catholicism not to question authority lead me to silently collude with the racism of other Whites?

Robin DiAngelo says she is a Catholic, and by all appearances was told she was Catholic growing up and perhaps attended mass and all and as such was “raised Catholic,” but her true religion today is revealed here to be something else: Anti-Racism. She is subjecting her nominal religion to intense scrutiny by her true religion and the latter cancels-out the former. When and how did she come to convert?

So far we’ve seen that Robin DiAngelo long carried personal resentments against the society of her youth and early years, believing she got an unfair lot in life, in essence. The society she resented was the one she knew, one of confident White Supermajority, 1960s and early 1970s America. But everyone grows u and overcomes adolescent resentments, right?

As to what she was doing in young adulthood from the mid-1970s into the 1980s, this from DiAngelo’s husband:

For a drive from Seattle to San Francisco, I once wrote up a 4-page, single-spaced itinerary, which I photocopied several times just in case one got misplaced. Robin is the opposite – early years spent drifting around the world from kibbutz to pizza parlor to hostel to catamaran made her a bold and resourceful traveler who prefers to “figure it out when we get there” or some such long-hair nonsense. So already we have a problem.

A possible portrait of Robin DiAngelo in her youth circa the mid and late 1970s, as a serious traveler, possibly even that kind of hardcore traveler committed to medium- or long-haul international nomadism, floating from place to place and “figuring it out” along the way, by choice. Those of us who have lived this lifestyle for any amount of time will recognize the type, or the range of possible personality-types at play here, especially in combination with other known Robin DiAngelo biographical details.

DiAngelo writes in her “My Class Didn’t Trump my Race” essay that she “left home as a teenager and struggled to survive,” but doesn’t specify when and doesn’t specify in what circumstances she left home, or what “struggled to survive” meant — the line, like a lot of autobiography, could be massaged and self-serving. It was most likely some time between 1973 and 1975.

The strange comment that she had “drifted” at one point into a kibbutz, presumably in Israel, is curious. How does a Catholic girl “drift” to a kibbutz? When was this? How long? Probably not long, maybe just an extended visit. But how? Was it with a husband/boyfriend (or girlfriend)? Would they even let a single gentile women onto a kibbutz? There is nothing further online about this at all and it is one of the mysteries of Robin DiAngelo’s Lost Years

I should say again that After substantial research into her origins, I can say with certainty that Robin DiAngelo is not Jewish. The rumor I have seen reported is false. Her White-Catholic origin is confirmed along several avenues of evidence including her own statements and those of her husband and other archival documents and public records; nothing even suggests any Jewish ancestry. This kibbutz line from her husband is curious, anyway.

In reconstructing a personal-history narrative for Robin DiAngelo with imperfect information, we can take a midpoint guess that she left home in 1974, worked odds jobs and drifted for six years, including much world travel, until 1980 when she became tied to Seattle. Perhaps the travel continued into the 1980s, but anyway she has had some kind of ties to Seattle since then, except for the Massachusetts interregnum, summer 2007 to spring 2014.

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Robin DiAngelo’s Personality

Revealing snippets of Robin DiAngelo’s personality are to be had from her husband’s accounts, in blog form, of their four-week-long Dec. 2017 trip to Thailand.

At the time of this trip, DiAngelo was still editing her June 2018 White Fragility book — a critical milestone in the White Fragility ascent-cycle as documented in the companion post to this one.

(Selfie by Jason Toews with wife Robin DiAngelo in background 2017. From Jason Toews’ blog.)

The plane touches down in Thailand, early December 2017. Out comes Robin. Out comes husband Jason. They go through the airport procedures and exit the secure area. Then it begins: The very first thing Robin DiAngelo does after arriving in Thailand is to go on a rant against an advertisement-poster she sees at the airport. The ad is for “Snail White Skin Cream,” marketed to Thai women as a beauty product to lighten their skin. This according to her husband’s account. He writes:

“Did Robin spend a sizable percentage of the trip offering passionate commentary on those ads? Yes. Yes, she did.”

Perhaps it’s no surprise to learn from Jason’s blog elsewhere that Robin is a strict vegetarian and that she “loves a farmer’s market – or, really, any kind of market.”

(Robin DiAngelo in Thailand, Dec. 2017; from husband’s blog.)

Another DiAngelo anecdote from husband Jason. They are at a tourist cave in Thailand:

Those of you who know Robin will immediately understand that this [a tour guide asking, “Do you like spiders?”] was a disastrously bad idea. Robin has a long-standing and fairly serious case of arachnophobia. She even saw a therapist about it. […] It was the worst possible thing to say to Robin on a good day, much less when she was already near panic.

So, Robin was now in tears, hyperventilating and refusing to move. I was genuinely afraid that we would not be able to get her out of the cave, and tried to regain control of the situation before a rescue team had to be summoned. I held her face in my hands and forced her to look at me, which she did not want to do. “Honey, I have not seen a single spider in here. I promise to keep you safe. We have to make it out of this cave, and you will not be able to do that if you keep crying. Stop crying for now, and I promise you can cry all you want when we’re outside, okay?”

It took several minutes, but she eventually was able to slow her breathing and focus.

Jason describes giving firm, authoritative commands to his wife Robin DiAngelo to help DiAngelo steady herself, which he blogifies in ALL-CAPS:

I swung my headlamp around, and saw a spider the size of my outstretched hand on the wall, inches from her hand. “KEEP LOOKING STRAIGHT AHEAD AND KEEP MOVING,” I told Robin. “DO NOT LOOK TO THE SIDE. LISTEN TO ME. KEEP MOVING.”

In another context, Robin would no doubt have harsh words for a White man giving such direct commands to a woman (oppression!), but this time she was glad for it. “Miraculously, she did exactly as I said, and we somehow made it out of the cave.”

“Back at the motor scooter…Robin was teary-eyed and barely able to talk. […] When we reached the town near our resort, Robin told me to pull over at a grocery store. She emerged with a bottle of vodka. I didn’t drink any, but the bottle was empty by the time we left Koh Lanta.”

And one more anecdote from Thailand from Jason Toews:

Our final day in Khao Lak began with a DiAngelo-Toews Vacation Tradition: Jason awakened by the sound of Robin vomiting. The night before, she had let herself get dehydrated, skipped dinner, drank two sweet cocktails, and now a migraine was looming. She gulped down Ibuprofen and bottled water while I busted out with my Bob Seger impression: “Woke last night to the sound of chunder…” I thought that was pretty clever, but Robin just glared.

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Relocating to Springfield, Massachusetts; involvement in local activism

As mentioned earlier, back in 2007 Robin DiAngelo made the move to western Massachusetts after getting a professorship offer there. The decision loomed on where to live.

Robin finally insisted on Springfield, a place with a substantial crime problem and a degree of blight and immigrant-takeover by this time. During DiAngelo’s time living there, Springfield clocked-in at only 36.7% White Non-Hispanic on the 2010 Census, down from 90%+ before 1970.

Her husband quotes DiAngelo as saying:

“Why are we all focused on [finding a home in] Holyoke?” she demanded, apparently forgetting that I’d been saying this all along. “Springfield is full of working class people just like our families; just like the towns we grew up in. By not considering Springfield, I feel like we’re just buying into the propaganda that separates us by race and economic class.”

An ideologically motivated decision on where to live. (Recall that Robin DiAngelo has no children and did not have to consider non-existent children’s interests in this decision; Jason’s two children remained in the Seattle to finish their K-12 years.)

So it was that Robin DiAngelo chose a home in Springfield, a 20 to 30 minute drive from the Westfield State campus.

By 2011, Robin and Jason were organizing members of the Springfield, Mass., Gay Pride Parade. He blogged about it:

(Robin DiAngelo’s husband blogs about their involvement in 2011 in reviving Springfield, Massachusetts’ Gay Pride event.)

Robin DiAngelo was featured in, and helped produce, her husband’s documentary film hobby-project “This is Who We Are: Springfield Mass Pride,” which he created in 2012-13 and posted to Youtube in June 2013 (545 views at the Youtube upload as of this writing). Considering what it is, it’s a pretty good production. The music is better than the editing. You can tell Jason spent more time dealing in music than in film, but he has a talent for both.

In the “Springfield Mass Pride” credits, Robin DiAngelo is listed in multiple places. DiAngelo is:

  • credited as one of the two “interviewers;”
  • credited as a “Springfield historian” (which is Jason’s creative name for his interviewees; e.g., one is Springfield’s first-ever openly-Gay policeman, Michael Carney, who won a court case in 1994);
  • credited with “Other Photos and Ephemera,”
  • is one of those named in the Special Thanks section (“for invaluable feedback and moral support”).
  • is featured as a racial and gay-rights expert in one segment.

As for that last one, among her comments are: “Does it mean the same thing to be White and Gay as it does to be a Person of Color and Gay?”

______________________

Robin DiAngelo “Hated” Living in Springfield, Massachusetts

Despite all her tough talk about how great and authentic it would be to live in Springfield, DiAngelo “hated it,” in the words of her husband Jason’s blog. She returned to Seattle in 2014.

It was right at the middle of her time at Westfield State in Massachusetts, teaching multicultural education, that the most important event in Robin DiAngelo’s professional life happened: The appearance of her “White Fragility” article in a real academic journal (2011), even if an obscure one. She resented having to live in Springfield in the early 2010s, but the second half of the 2010s were destined to be all upward, for her.

Jason, meanwhile, “loved it” in Springfield and stayed on another year. He rejoined Robin in 2015 back in Seattle, where they remain today.

A year after leaving Westfield State College, in mid-2015, Robin DiAngelo’s earthly sojourn crossed an important milestone. The second phase of the upward-ascent-cycle for her White Fragility meme — the sustained trickling out from the academic-ghetto — had begun. There was no way to know this process had begun at the time, but in retrospect we do see that sustained week-to-week interest in White Fragility dates to Q2 2015 (see companion post):

The above is on a zoomed-in scale, and the real breakthrough dates to the last days of May and then June 2020 tightly correlated with the George Floyd riots (and following three months of disruptions to all economic and social life with the Coronavirus shutdowns:

And so it was that Robin DiAngelo became a global celebrity of the semi-mainstream.

By the second stages of the ascent-cycle for White Fragility (the ‘Pipeline’ process of ideas moving from fringe-academia to the mainstream), DiAngelo was back among friends in Seattle and able to network there, also returning to doing occasional Diversity Training.

The stage was set for her 2018 book, and unbeknownst to anyone, the big mid-2020 breakout. That enormous jump in the third graph above represents the mid-2020 breakthrough.

_______________________

Conclusions: Who is Robin DiAngelo? What Motivates Her?

DiAngelo, high-priestess of the Diversity civic religion; DiAngelo, promoter of the holy doctrines of White Ethnomasochism by which ye shall be saved; DiAngelo, discoverer of the latest new doctrine of White Fragility, for which she became an instant Diversity and Anti-Racism celebrity; DiAngelo, the beneficiary of moral panics; DiAngelo, the cult trainer.

Those are all valid mini-portraits o, but all are a little unfair because they depict her as one-dimensional. Like anyone else, she comes from somewhere and developed a way of thinking over time.

This investigation has sought to find who or what radicalized Robin DiAngelo, who or what motivated her to dedicate her life to the service of a systematized form of White Ethnomasochism. It need not have been this way. Something went wrong along the way; what was it?

This 5500-word character study has covered much ground, including original research using material otherwise not noticed and not published anywhere. What we see is the picture of a woman who, at times, seems almost provincial in her own way, almost a cardboard cut-out of what was known in the late 2000s and early 2010s in some circles as the “SWPL,” after a popular blog at the time, Stuff White People Like. She fits a lot of stereotypes.

I believe the firmest-foundation conclusion to this character study is as follows:

Robin DiAngelo is of White-Catholic origin, was raised Catholic and as an adult still identifies in some way as one. She comes from a broken home, grew up impoverished, and by her own telling was highly self-conscious and resentful of those around her, those she saw as coming from stable homes, those having families, money, and/or beauty. It is not a long logical leap to say her desire to take “White people” down and morally delegitimize them is really the desire to take down her own erstwhile peers and neighbors, of her decades-ago youth. A worldview colored by resentment.

It appears that Robin DiAngelo floated along, on an extended traveler’s life, up through her mid-twenties. Later she floated on an academia bubble in her thirties and forties. She never had anything like a traditional family of her own and has no children, a fact not to be overlooked in all this (as the dog that didn’t bark). She did eventually marry (a man, ten years her junior) in her late forties.

King’s County, Washington, property records suggest she cohabited with a woman in the 1990s. What the nature of their relationship was is speculative.

The resentments against her own society, which she developed and carried from a young age, animated her identity to some extent. But the outlets may have been largely non-political in the 1970s and 1980s, expressing themselves more in general disagreeableness unmoored from any specific political agenda. But then she became a Diversity Trainer. Her professional role as Diversity Trainer probably tapped into her resentment-identity and caused a chemical-reaction like effect, a weaponization of resentment. Being a Diversity Trainer in early 1990s Seattle and beyond was the central experience of her life.

White Fragility theory itself was born because so many so forcefully resented DiAngelo’s mandatory diversity training sessions. To DiAngelo, these working-age white people were the reincarnations of the same people she had resented in her childhood and adolescence. There was an open, socially acceptable avenue to attack them and make a sustained effort to delegitimize them morally. That’ll show them. I believe that is what went on here.

Considering the era and places DiAngelo grew up, the targets of her resentment were/are “liberal-leaning White Middle-America” types regardless of their specific geographic origins. These were the people DiAngelo knew; these were the people she resented. It was in the crucible of left-wing academia in the late 1980s and 1990s that DiAngelo’s personal emotional baggage became finally legitimized and the process by which it was redirected into political ends was in motion.

DiAngelo fell into the twin traps of pride and self-righteousness, believing herself to be on a moral crusade, probably an intoxicating feeling to her. Forces much larger than herself took advantage of her long-held insecurities. Totally unbeknownst to herself, and as many have done before and will do in the future, she had fallen into the clutches of a cult.

__________________

[End.] [Updated: Aug. 5/6, 2020.]

__________________

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36 Responses to Who Radicalized Robin DiAngelo? A biographical investigation into the coiner and promoter of White Fragility theory

  1. Robert says:

    She reminds me of the type of woman I have long thought of as a ‘Pirate Jenny’, from Kurt Weill’s ‘Three Penny Opera’. My favorite version, by Anne Kerry Ford:

    P.S. “That’ll learn ‘ya”, seems more powerful than, “That’ll show them”. But, yet another good article.

    • Hail says:

      Here is the Pirate Jenny summary from a wiki-person:

      “Jenny is a lowly maid at a “crummy old hotel”, imagining avenging herself for the contempt she endures from the townspeople. A pirate ship – with eight sails, and with 50 cannons[2] – enters the harbor, fires on the city and flattens every building except the hotel. The pirates come ashore, chain up all the townspeople, and present them to Jenny, who orders the pirates to kill them all. She then sails away with the pirates.”

      The personality description seems really correct. Great point. Except one difference: Pirate Robin would not order them killed but sentence the townspeople to years’ worth of full-time Diversity Training in special camps they’d build for that purpose — and which they’d have to pay for.

  2. Robert says:

    I didn’t mean to actually embed that youtube video in my comment — it has always seemed rude to me to do such on someone else’s site. My apologies.

    • Hail says:

      These days wordpress automatically converts them to clickable videos. The same with pictures. To get them to display as links, you’d have to add in code to bypass it. I don’t know when that began.

  3. Federalist says:

    I don’t know if it’s because she’s so talented at running this con or if she’s just lucky, but it surprises me that no blacks have turned up to take this high priestess of anti-racism and corporate trainer/speech giver gig away from DiAngelo. She must have black rivals. Maybe she gives them a cut of the action. Maybe it’s some kind of a cartel.

    A privileged white gets the job instead of an oppressed black? Is she saying that there are no qualified blacks? A white woman gets to whitesplain racism? She already has privilege as a white person and now she gets to exploit white privilege even further? She’s very well compensated for a job that wouldn’t even exist if it were not for racism, white privilege, etc.*

    *I don’t believe any of this crap but the line of reasoning would seem to jump out at people like Robin DiAngelo.

    • Hail says:

      Good point, Federalist. Is White Fragility Theory so inherently insulting that a Black person could not pull it off no matter how well-spoken?

      People of all races/origins/times/places will tend, by instinct, to be receptive/engage/positively-respond to a person seeking to engage them if the person seems similar to them. Ideologically, Robin DiAngelo’s job ‘should’ by right be done by a Diverse person, but for practical purposes it probably does work better than she is a middle-aged White woman.

  4. I was amused by the Holyoke versus Springfield discussion. They’re both pretty much dumps, with a couple of nice neighborhoods. They used to be pretty solid white blue collar towns but have declined significantly in the past 40 years. The urban dysfunction in Springfield is mostly black, while in Holyoke it’s mostly Puerto Rican. Westfield is still pretty white blue collar, so I could understand why someone packed with her resentments wouldn’t want to live there. She is going to make a ton of money the rest of this year and into next year. A sad commentary on modern America. How much misery have childless women visited on modern Western societies?

    • Hail says:

      I wonder what exactly it was that made Robin DiAngelo hate living in Springfield, Mass.;

      I’ve been to Springfield once or twice. The impression I remember was of a depressed city which seemed to have that kind of unsafe feel that suggested the good people had long been pushed out. Little activity downtown. I remember a very large park, large enough to have roads to navigate within it, with people picnicking all throughout. The park had a large police presence. They were patrolling the park very actively, seemed routine. Most places (needless to say) don’t need full-on, permanent police patrols in parks.

    • MEH 0910 says:

      • Hail says:

        Who is Alex Morse?

        Alex Morse [b.1989]’s election in 2011 at the age of 22 received national coverage, as he was youngest and first openly-gay mayor of the city and, at the time, among the youngest of any in the United States

        I am sure Robin DiAngelo supported this man’s campaign in 2011, the same year she was one of the key people in reviving Springfield’s Gay Pride event.

        Alex Morse statement: “I want to be clear that every relationship I’ve had has been consensual. However, I also recognize that I have to be cognizant of my position of power. Navigating life as both a young gay man and an elected official can be difficult […]”

        • Navigating, is that what they call it now? Buggering is the British terminology. I think we should stick with that one.

          • Bo says:

            Ghislaine Maxwell saw the Mayor Alex Morse statement and decided to release one of her own: “I recognize that I have to be cognizant of my position of power. Navigating girls through life, as both a powerful socialite and a foreign intelligence asset, can be difficult.”

    • Hail says:

      It’s surprising to hear that Holyoke is “pretty much a dump.” Mount Holyoke College is nearby, with its 185 years of history as a prestigious women’s college (a possible asterisk on that second to last word: They accept Transgenders who identify as female as of Fall 2015).

      By the way, Mr. Anderson, it looks like Mount Holyoke is not among those who pulled the trigger on 100% Corona-closure for Fall 2020, but it is still looks pretty bad:

      In-person instruction will both look and feel different because it will require physical distancing and everyone will wear masks. Because of physical distancing, classroom capacities will be reduced by more than 50%, compared to a typical semester.

  5. Steve Sailer says:

    A funny thing is her husband is a better writer than she is. He’s got a likable style.

    One thought I had is that Robin DiAngelo is from the proletarian ranks of academia: I never heard of Westfield State. It seems like a pretty dismal life in a sort of Raymond Carver adjunct professor way before she suddenly got rich in her 60s.

    Compare her career to, say, Judith Butler’s, who has always traveled in elite ranks of academia:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Butler

    Butler has concocted a famously opaque prose style that is catnip to grad students.

    DiAngelo, in contrast, appears to have spent years training pink collar office workers in boring diversity sessions. She gives me the impression of being a 110 IQ person who has over grinding years of giving boring lectures on diversity learned how to manipulate the emotions of 100 IQ women.

    • Federalist says:

      Steve,
      Since you’re here, now read and comment on Hail’s brilliant series of articles Against The Corona-Panic, Parts I – XV. Hail was a voice of reason during the irrational corona-panic phase of your blog and also during your later amnesia phase where you forgot to write about the virus at all.

    • Hail says:

      The puzzle is how an unknown professor from an unknown college, Westfield State, could come up with a breakthrough theory (or whatever to call White Fragility). How many other experts out of Westfield State, in any field, have had comparable media exposure or even close?

      On the other hand, Robin DiAngelo is not “from” Westfield State. It’s a job she did along the way. She was deeply embedded in academia-activist networks in Seattle for years. She did just enough to get tenure, then retired and promptly returned to Seattle full-time to get back in to Diversity Training outside the classroom, and writing.

      The Robin DiAngelo story is also one of “luck.” Ferguson happened a few months after her retirement with tenure from Westfield State (May 2014). The worst wave of Ferguson riots also aligns with the first upward-blip on the Google Trends radar for her pet theory/meme White Fragility. The post-Ferguson racial-political cycles are closely tied to the upward movement in White Fragility interest.

  6. Pingback: “White Fragility” and the Academia-to-Mainstream ‘Pipeline.’ An investigation into White Fragility Theory and its life-cycle from 2011 to 2020 | Hail to You

  7. Nachum says:

    The bit about “acknowledging” Indians before a speech is apparently a rule in Canada. Every single event has to begin with a ritual listing of whatever Indians once lived at that spot and a denunciation of white people for being there.

    Lots of lefties “drift” onto kibbutzim, seeing them as some socialist ideal. (They’re surprised to learn that even on kibbutzim, a lot of the members are, like much of Israel, pretty right-wing and un-PC.) This was probably much more widespread in the 1960’s (when there was the added appeal of the kibbutz seen as being some sort of sexual free-for-all), and has probably also lessened as the Left has turned on Israel, but apparently it still happens. And while the majority of those who do so are probably Jewish, they include lots of non-Jews too. You can see “spent time on a kibbutz” on lots of bios, Jewish, non-Jewish, right-wing and left.

    • Hail says:

      Robin DiAngelo most likely spent time on a kibbutz sometime between 1975 and 1980. Maybe days, maybe weeks, maybe months, but that is the general time window, the soft lower- and upper-bounds from what we know of the rest of her bio. There’s a lesser chance it was in the 1980s.

      Except for the passing reference by her husband (which I believe I am the first to notice), we know nothing else about this. It may be worth an attempt at reconstructing the experience, the when (see above), the how, the why.

      How do you suppose a young gentile (US Catholic origin) female traveler like DiAngelo end up getting onto a kibbutz? How long might she have stayed?

  8. brueckenbauer says:

    “Toews” is above all a Mennonite family name – which may explain Jason’s remarks about his “fundamentalist” upbringing.
    The Birthday of Mary is Sept. 8th, well-known with Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans.
    – Here in Germay, visiting kibbutzim was mostly popular with (leftist) Protestants – sone of whom converted to Judaism and even became Rabbines. (In fact, the kibbutzim as agrarian-warrior communities rooted in the same grounds as the volkish “Armanen” settlements supported among others by Himmler. The common denominator was the intellectual legacy of Franz Oppenheimer. But the warrior aspect of the kibbutzim was mever mentioned; and as for its alleged sexual licentiousmess, I heard about that at first by an Israeli teacher of mine.) But we must not forget that the kibbutz was for two decades seen as an important progressive/socialist experiment (debated as such in Helmut Schoeck’s “Envy”.)

    • Hail says:

      Thank you for these comments, brueckenbauer. As for me, in many years around Lutheran churches and some other Protestant churches, I do not recall hearing any reference to Mary having a birthday. For DiAngelo biographical analysis purposes, that she knew it and dropped the reference in would seem to me to independently corroborate her claimed Catholic upbringing.

      There are a lot of people claiming she is Jewish. After much investigation I see no evidence for that at all and much evidence against, with this Mary line seeming to be a clincher.

    • Hail says:

      “Toews” is above all a Mennonite family name – which may explain Jason’s remarks about his “fundamentalist” upbringing.

      Some follow-up research on Jason Toews ancestry:

      Father: Jason Toews’ father appears to be a Patrick L. Toews (1938-2017). Patrick (who went by Pat, born the same year as Pat Buchanan) was born in Manitoba but was associated with the Seattle area all his adult life after arriving before 1950 with his parents.

      Grandparents(paternal): The parents of Patrick L. Toews (and Jason’s paternal grandparents) are: William Cornelius Toews (1908-1969) of Manitoba and May E. Allen (1911-1984) of South Dakota. The Toews line emigrated from Molotschna, Russia (a Mennonite settlement) seemingly in 1896/7 and settled the Manitoba prairie.

      Religion: Ancestry is always interesting and often illuminating, but there may be cultural discontinuity along the way, and there is here. You may be surprised to learn what kind of “fundamentalist Christian” Jason Toews was (raised). He explains on his blog that he was raised a Jehovah’s Witness. He describes his best friend growing up, Ed, as the son of another family at their JW church. As an adult, Jason describes ongoing friendship with Ed. Not sure if his first wife was of JW origin.

      Conversion: Either Jason’s father or grandfather must have broken with the German-Mennonite faith of their forefathers and converted to JW in the mid-20th century. This probably occurred in connection with their uprooting and moving to the Seattle area in the 1940s/50s period. is my guess.

      Father’s personality: Jason Toews describes some about father in his blog. Here is one from his blog-entry “The Trans Am Incident: Part I”):

      My dad worked in the parts department at a Volkswagen dealership in his youth, and, perhaps out of a misguided sense of brand loyalty, my family always drove VW’s.

      Here is another vignette of Patrick Toews via his son Jason’s blog (from entry “These Pink Ladies Are Getting Hornier by the Minute”):

      My dad passionately – perhaps even obsessively – LOVES movies. […] He buys those yearly 800-page “Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide” books, and reads them like novels. At the slightest provocation, he will wax rhapsodic about the first time he spent his allowance money to see “Ivanhoe” with his older brother, or the time he rode his bike 20 miles to see “Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy” and had to ride home in the dark, terrified. But his love of movies is not the problem, exactly. […] The problem is that his love of movies sometimes conflicts with his “Bible-trained conscience” (his phrase, not mine). When this happens, he does weird stuff.

      Steve Sailer is favorably disposed towards Jason Toews and likes his blog; add Jason’s movie-loving dad to the list of potential reasons. Given Mr. Sailer’s demonstrated passion for movies I expect he would have appreciated a chat with movie superfan Pat Toews, if he could steer it away from the “Bible-trained conscience” part.

      • Federalist says:

        “You may be surprised to read what kind of “fundamentalist Christian” Jason Toews was (raised). He explains on his blog that he was raised a Jehovah’s Witness.”

        Jehova’s Witness is not what I think of when I hear “fundamentalist Christian.” Would the typical “fundamentalist Christian” think that a Jehova’s Witness is a Christian at all?

        • Hail says:

          Federalist, you’ve got that right. It’s dubious to call Jehovah’s Witnesses fundamentalist Christian, or any kind of traditional Christian. But Jason Toews does.

          Maybe he came to use the generic “fundamentalist” because it more effectively elicits sympathy, from a certain type of person he’s often found himself around, than “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

  9. Pingback: One Year, Still Alive | The Antisocial Darwinist

  10. Hail says:

    Post updated with more on Robin DiAngelo’s husband’s documentary on Gay history in their then-home of Springfield, Massachusetts. Robin herself was a driving force behind the documentary.

    (The scope of the documentary is the 1990s to 2012/3. As such it’s an interesting historical document in its own right. I mean, it is a snapshot in time of the tail-end of the Gay Marriage social-movement cycle. Much of the content you see in it. if you watch it through, was within a few years going to be obsolete with the end of the Gay movement and rise of the Trans movement in the mid- and late-2010s.)

    Photo of Robin DiAngelo in June 1994, then doing her MA in Seattle:

  11. Hey, Mr. Hail,

    I really enjoyed this 2nd part, the biographical info, that you are using to try to explain how someone can turn into a hard-core anti-white sicko like this Mrs. DiAngelo. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t read your first part until I’d come back to the site after Mr. Sailer linked to here. (I’d seen the post, but didn’t end up going that much through it before.)

    I did want to ask you if you made up the term “Sanctimony City”, as I really like that one. (It wasn’t clear to me if that was your term.)

    This is very enlightening. It’s not that I haven’t met people who have had some of this same type of background, but most find a handhold on some sanity at some stage in their lives, and get themselves out of the abyss.

    I try to imagine what I’d be like in one of the real D.I.E. sessions they have now. I used to be a bit of a troublemaker before, just due to hatred of bureaucracy, due to my being in the wrong job mostly. I have some regrets about not taking more leftwing-taught classes (in the 1990s) for no grade, specifically to raise Holy Hell in there when the Prof crossed the, actually MY line. It would have been a blast, especially with a friend of mine of the same views in there. We all have regrets … alas….

    • Hail says:

      I did want to ask you if you made up the term “Sanctimony City”, as I really like that one. (It wasn’t clear to me if that was your term.)

      I wish I could take credit, but it was Christopher Caldwell. He coined the term in mid-late November 2016 in a long-form essay about the anti-Trump near-monolith in the big-blue cities and the unexpected Trump victory. I consider that essay an important historical document. It gets the moment just right. (See further comments on Sanctimony Cities.)

      Caldwell got the idea for the phrase “Sanctimony Cities” from witnessing the way the big-blue cities, including Washington DC and some of its satellite communities, reacted to Trump and his voters in the 2015-16 election cycle.

      In fact, “they” coined and began popularizing the term/idea of a Sanctuary City (in which local officials would refuse any cooperation with enforcement of immigration law) in mid-2015. This was right after Trump jumped ahead of the Republican field by promising to deport illegals. Its use really took off in Nov. 2016 after the election, which is when we find Caldwell turns the rhetorical table.

      We find White Fragility theory at the same time (by late 2016) circulating among some networks within the “sanctimoniest” of the Sanctimony Cities, still well below the national-mainstream surface.

    • Hail says:

      Surprised to see how few google hits “sanctimony city” and “sanctimony cities” have. The original essay by Caldwell deserves to be better known, and is still worth reading almost four years later (both in the context of wanting to understand the Robin DiAngelo phenomenon and for general purposes). It deserves to be meme’d into reality but it’s probably too high-brow to get a meme takeoff.

  12. Bo says:

    Hail, read this in two sittings and am thinking about question Who Radicalized Robin DiAngelo. To be a diversity trainer seeking to “delegitimize” white Americans (or maybe all whites in the world).

    Seems like the answer is it was not a Who but a few things:

    Her own resentments. Her circumstances of where & when she lived. Involved in academia in her 30’s and beyond. Childless and not involved in family life in any traditional way not even from any nieces & nephews (is that right?). Missing anything there? Prob all these operated together? None alone enough to do it.

    If we had a reverse-SPLC that acted on behalf of our people, these kind of things would be a basis for a list of Warning Signs.

  13. John Morlar says:

    Robin Jeanne Taylor b. 08 Sep 1956, Santa Clara. Two older sisters. Parents divorced. Mother died in 1967.

    Married Richard Michael Woolery in 1981. Had a daughter Simone the same year. Possibly had another daughter who died as an infant – not sure of that. Divorced in 1987.

    In the photo of Robin in 1994 at a ‘Pride’ event she has her arm around her daughter Simone – “Hate is not a family value” after all. Adult Simone appears to work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle as an Events Manager.

    At some point chose to be known by her mother’s maiden name of Di Angelo. Her mother is descended from 20th century immigrants from Italy.

    Lots of failed marriages in DiAngelo’s family tree – her parents, her sisters, herself, her daughter.

    • Hail says:

      Thank you for this info! It fills in a good deal of the gray area. Most of this research was done in June when much less was available on her.

      Robin’s 1981-87 marriage and b.1981 daughter would seem to explain what she was doing in the 1980s before (re?)-attaching herself to academia by the late 1980s.

      The important events of 1980-81 for Robin DiAngelo were:

      – shows up in Seattle (in 1980, per Jason Toews blog account),
      – gets pregnant (early Oct. 1980) by a Richard Woolery (b. Jan. 1958),
      – marriage to Mr. Woolery (apparently 1981, presumably early in year),
      – birth of daughter (born July 4, 1981 — public record).

      Robin was resident in Seattle from 1980 until the move to Massachusetts in summer 2007. Her daughter married a man in July 2010 but is now divorced(?).

      (I have been through a lot of Robin’s writings but never saw her reference her daughter.)

      Given this revelation, Robin DiAngelo’s true Lost Years period is now firmly set at 1974-1980. Her global wandering must have been in this period. On her 26th birthday, Sept. 1981, she was caring for an infant daughter.

  14. Hail says:

    After reading John Morlar’s comment above, I realized a source I could have used, but didn’t think to, is Robin DiAngelo’s 2004 dissertation. There is a copy online.

    Here are the biography-relevant portions:

    “This dissertation is dedicated to my mother, Maryanne Jeanne DiAngelo, 1929 – 1967, whose life taught me the relationship between silence and suffering. To my sisters, A****th Yvonne DiAngelo and D**a Lynn Taylor. And to my daughter, Simone Rose Woolery, whose birth compelled me to take my life seriously, and showed me what I was capable of.

    Notice that DiAngelo seems to be one of three sisters, and none of them use husbands’ names. Robin uses DiAngelo as does one sister she names. The third sister uses their apparent birth name of Taylor. These women were early adopters of “I’m keeping my name.”

    The final named person in the Acknowledgments is a Deborah Terry Hays, whom she thanks as follows:

    “for showing me so much about racism and not giving up on me as a White woman struggling to become an ally.”

    I’ve tried reading into the main contents of the dissertation but after two attempts at the Abstract at a little of the Conclusion, it’s just too fluffy to pin down what it’s even about. Maybe I’ll try again another day. The title is unhelpful: “Whiteness in Racial Dialogue: A Discourse Analysis.” See pdf; maybe you can do better; if so, please drop a comment for the benefit of us all. It is not searchable by the usual ctrl-f method for some reason.

  15. Hail says:

    Another revelation from the Robin DiAngelo 2004 dissertation that extends the White Fragility timeline somewhat:

    In her bibliography, she has a curious source:

    Allen, D. (2004). [White fragility]. Unpublished raw data.

    This must be David G. Allen who is on her Reading Committee and whom she thanks in the most glowing terms in her Acknowledgments (see here). She calls David G. Allen “my mentor in the truest sense of the word.” Did Robin DiAngelo lift the term White Fragility from David G. Allen of the University of Washington, in the early 2000s?

    A 2005 article on Allen has him at UofW since 1988. He was appointed Head of the Women’s Studies Department in Fall 2005 for a five-year term: https://www.washington.edu/news/2005/07/07/the-man-for-the-job-david-allen-to-lead-women-studies-department/

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