‘That Book Is Talking Down To Me’: Columbia Professor Says ‘Antiracism’ Book’s Message Is To ‘Tiptoe’ Around Black People

Screenshot/YouTube/Real Time with Bill Maher

Marlo Safi Culture Reporter
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Columbia University linguist John McWhorter criticized “antiracism” expert Robin DiAngelo’s book “White Fragility” as condescending to black people and as an item that should only “be used to keep tables from wobbling” during a Friday interview with Bill Maher.


McWhorter, an award-winning author and professor, discussed DiAngelo’s book on “Real Time with Bill Maher.” “White Fragility” became a New York Times best seller and implores white people to reflect on the ways that they perpetuate racism, often without even knowing. 

Maher suggested that McWhorter feels condescended to by such messaging on race issues. “I see that all the time and I wonder why that’s not in the dialogue,” Maher said.

“You read a book like, and you have to be specific, ‘White Fragility,’ which basically says that black people are these hot house flowers where everyone has to tiptoe around us,” McWhorter responded. “We’re always crying and we’re always angry and we’re just so very, very, very, delicate.”

“I don’t feel like that person,” he added. “That book is talking down to me as far as I’m concerned.”

DiAngelo, who is white, coined the term “white fragility” and is often brought in by universities and companies to speak about “antiracism” at a steep fee. (RELATED: $12K A Day: How White Liberals Profit From Pushing ‘White Privilege’)

Critical Race Theory — which DiAngelo draws much of her “antiracism” instruction from — holds that America is fundamentally racist, yet teaches individuals to view every social interaction and person in terms of race. Its adherents pursue “antiracism” through the end of merit, objective truth and the adoption of race-based policies.

McWhorter has previously criticized DiAngelo’s book in The Atlantic, where he called the book “pernicious” for diminishing “Black people in the name of dignifying us.”

Maher remarked during the show that the book should “really be called ‘Black Fragility’” for its depictions of black Americans.

“Yes, yes, it should be used to keep tables from wobbling, that’s the only use for that book,” McWhorter responded.

Maher suggested that most people probably agree with McWhorter, and that it was mostly people on Twitter pushing more fringe ideas like DiAngelo’s.

“I’ve been black for pretty much 55 years and I know how black people feel, and I always think this sliver of people in the media, academia, they’re often much smarter than me, but that is not the representative view of people,” McWhorter responded. 

 “If you’re going to read ‘How to Be an Antiracist,’ that is not the general black view of things,” he added, referencing Ibram X. Kendi’s book. “It’s like the Bible. If you must read it, it should be read as literature rather than as scholarship, that’s not general.” (RELATED: Navy To Keep ‘Anti-Racism’ Books On Reading List Over Republican Objections)