A Review of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility

The cover of White Fragility

I recently finished Robin DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility. I think it’s one of those books that it’s important to read because it is being so widely discussed. If you haven’t read it, you should.

The basic idea of the book is based on DiAngelo’s experience over many years in facilitating discussions on race and racism mostly for white people. Her key observation, which I think is indisputably true, is that it’s really hard to get white people to talk honestly about race and racism, and when you try, you end up facing “white fragility,” which is what DiAngelo calls the tendency of white people to put their shields up and to become highly defensive when the structural advantages white people have in our society—and the structural disadvantages black people have—come up. DiAingelo uses the word “racism” in a non-standard way, not to mean a belief in black peoples’ inferiority or actions prompted by that belief, but the overall structure of society and the legacy of slavery, both of which lead to structural advantages for white people and disadvantages for black people. So to say that a white participant in one of her discussions groups is a racist is not to attribute bad racial attitudes to him or to her, but just to say that he or she participates in and benefits from a system that is set up to perpetuate unfair racial outcomes. But people who use the word “racism” in its ordinary sense hear the accusation as an accusation of a deep moral failing, which naturally provokes a highly defensive response. (more…)

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Book of the Day: General Principles of Law and International Due Process

Cover of General Principles of International Due Process

Readers, I’ve been meaning for a while to call to your attention a new book by friend of Letters Blogatory Charles T. Kotuby Jr. and Luke A. Sobota: General Principles of Law and International Due Process: Principles and Norms Applicable in Transnational Disputes. Most of the book has to do with the substantive law—the requirement of good faith and pacta sunt servanda, principles of corporate separateness, and other topics.
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Book of the Day: International Aspects of U.S. Litigation

Cover of International Aspects of U.S. Litigation

Readers, I am very pleased to announce the publication of the ABA’s new two-volume deskbook, International Aspects of U.S. Litigation, edited by James E. Berger of King & Spalding. The book features contributions from many excellent authors, including several friends. I am the author of the chapter of service of process. Other chapters cover subject-matter and personal jurisdiction, venue, forum non conveniens, parallel proceedings, forum selections clauses, the Alien Tort Statute, the extraterritoriality of US law, choice of law clauses, conflict of laws, proof of foreign law, treaties as substantive law, pretrial discovery, recognition and enforcement of judgments, res judicata, international arbitration, sovereign litigation, foreign bankruptcy, and trade disputes.
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Book of the Day: Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers

Cover of Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers

I have the prejudices of a practitioner: I like a really useful book. Sure, you can write a treatise on delocalized arbitration, but what can you tell me that I can use in my everyday practice? The book of the day, Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers, is a useful book. I recommend it.
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Book Review: Michael Goldhaber’s Crude Awakening: Chevron In Ecuador

Michael Goldhaber
Michael Goldhaber

I don’t know whether the timing of Michael Goldhaber’s new e-book, Crude Awakening, which came out shortly before Paul Barrett’s Law of the Jungle, was mere coincidence, but it is fair to say that for Steven Donziger, September is the cruelest month. Folks who have not been following the twists and turns of the Chevron/Ecuador case are going to read these two books, and together they paint a devastating picture of the larger-than-life Harvard Law School graduate.
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Book Review: Paul Barrett’s Law of the Jungle

Law of the Jungle jacketAs I was reading Paul M. Barrett’s new book, Law of the Jungle I was kicking myself. There’s obviously a market for popular treatments of the Chevron/Ecuador case. Barrett’s book is not the only one: Michael Goldhaber’s Crude Awakening has just been published, too (here’s my review). I coulda been a contender! When we spoke, Barrett told me he has already been talking with a major studio, which is no surprise given that the book has some highly cinematic moments and seems made for the big screen.

George Clooney
Why Not? Credit: Angela George

I asked him who would play Donziger (he didn’t know), but what I really want to know is: who is going to write the book and make the movie about the enterprising blogger who devoted three years of Sundays to covering the twists and turns in the case and will be played by George Clooney … well, no one has optioned that story yet!
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