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Dean’s Book Review: “Nice Racism”

January 20 @ 8:00 am 9:00 am MST

Please join Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner for her monthly dean’s book review and discussion with Dean Martell Teasley, College of Social Work. The book they will be reviewing is, Nice Racism: How progressive white people perpetuate racial harm for MLK Week, by Dr. Robin DiAngeloThis New York Times bestseller explores how a culture of niceness inadvertently promotes racism.

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

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

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

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

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


Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner, Jefferson B. & Rita E. Fordham Presidential Dean and Professor of Law, The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Dean Martell L. Teasley, MSW, PhD, Professor; The University of Utah College of Social Work

MLK Week

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week

This event is part of MLK Week (January 15 – 21, 2022).

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Week (MLK Week) is a platform to engage students, faculty, staff, trainees, and community members in critical conversations around contemporary Civil Rights issues and race in America. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of the “beloved community” as a nonviolent, just society where love and trust triumph over fear and hatred. In a year that has been filled with division, the 2022 MLK Week planning committee chose “Becoming the Beloved Community” as this year’s theme so we may explore ways to bridge the divide and work together to become the beloved community. Events and conversations throughout the week will honor Dr. King’s vision, offer direction, and challenge us to determine a better way forward.

Organizers & Partners

S.J. Quinney College of Law

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MLK Week Planning Committee

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