Nothing to Add: A Challenge to White Silence in Racial Discussions

Robin DiAngelo


This paper analyzes a common dynamic in interracial discussions on race: white silence. Using whiteness theory as the frame, I explicate the common white rationales for silence in discussions of race and challenge each of these rationales from an antiracist framework. These rationales include: “It’s just my personality—I rarely talk in groups”; “Everyone has already said what I was thinking”; “I don’t know much about race, so I will just listen”; “I don’t feel safe / don’t want to be attacked, so I am staying quiet”; “I am trying to be careful not to dominate the discussion”; “I don’t want to be misunderstood / say the wrong thing / offend anybody”; and “I already know all this.” I argue that regardless of the rationale for white silence in discussions of race, if it is not strategically enacted from an antiracist framework, it functions to maintain white power and privilege and must be challenged.

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