THE LONG, SINISTER SHADOW OF ROBIN DIANGELO
IN SOUTH AFRICA'S SCHOOLS
11 JULY 2023
Part 1: DiAngelo’s Acolytes
In September 2018, an aspiring Nigerian “diversity-and-transformation consultant” named Lovelyn Nwadeyi posted a photograph on her Instagram account. It shows her meeting with a white American academic and author named Robin DiAngelo.
DiAngelo is an Associate Professor at the University of Washington in Seattle who rose to prominence after coining the term “White Fragility” in an academic article in 2011. She would go on to write a book entitled White Fragility – Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism which was published in June 2018.
One year later, Lovelyn posted another update which provided further background. Lovelyn had accompanied DiAngelo to one of her diversity training seminars held at a school in Seattle and had also received advice and guidance from her on how to start a “social justice consulting firm” in South Africa. L&N Advisors (the firm being named after Lovelyn’s initials) subsequently won lucrative consulting contracts at dozens of schools and corporates across the country.
DiAngelo was now in South Africa and she and Lovelyn were scheduled to present a seminar at the University of Pretoria on the topic of White Fragility, White Privilege and Building New Race Relations.
DiAngelo and Lovelyn presenting at the University of Pretoria, 7 November 2019.
Lovelyn is not the only diversity-and-transformation consultant who has been influenced by DiAngelo. Teresa Oakley-Smith is a British woman based in South Africa who runs a firm called Diversi-T (again, the firm appears to be named after the founder). Teresa has posted a number of tweets promoting DiAngelo’s literature. 
Finally, there is Asanda Ngoasheng, another consultant who acted as moderator when DiAngelo visited the University of the Western Cape in November 2019.
Asanda Ngoasheng (standing far left, holding microphone) with Robin DiAngelo (seated far right) and three other panelists at the University of the Western Cape, 14 November 2019
DiAngelo runs a fairly sophisticated operation in South Africa. Her activities in the country are managed by The Social Justice Agency, a firm led by a man named Edwin Cleophas. He organised her 2019 trip which included visits to the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape, Stellenbosch University  and the University of Pretoria. The logos of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation also appear on promotional posters. DiAngelo participated in an online event at the University of Cape Town in July 2020, and Cleophas has plans on bringing her back to speak at various South African schools in 2024.
Robin DiAngelo presenting at the University of Cape Town, 11 November 2019 
Robin DiAngelo (sixth from left) at Stellenbosch University, 6 November 2019 
This raises some intriguing questions, specifically: how much would an exercise like this cost, and who pays for it?
Cleophas told me that DiAngelo travels only business class and that on her 2019 visit she stayed at the five-star Vineyard Hotel in Newlands, Cape Town. An Internet search indicates that business class return flights from Seattle cost in the region of R 90,000, whilst ten days in the cheapest room at the Vineyard Hotel would cost around R 50,000. When you include meals and transport, her costs probably come to at least R 150,000.
This is just the cost of getting her out here. This is before we consider her actual fee which ranges from $ 10,000 to $ 30,000 per event. In today’s money, this is a minimum of R 180,000 per event although I am told by Cleophas that, when presenting in South Africa, her fee is substantially reduced.
And who pays? This has proven to be more difficult to pin down. A University of Cape Town spokesperson informed me that the university did not pay DiAngelo for her 2019 talk. This contradicts Cleophas who told me that the University of Cape Town did in fact make a financial contribution. Stellenbosch University declined to comment citing confidentiality. The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation confirmed that The Social Justice Agency had approached the Institute with a request for material support, and that the Institute had made a contribution towards DiAngelo’s flight to South Africa. The University of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology did not respond to my emails by the time I published this essay, whilst the University of Pretoria undertook to come back to me once they could determine the relevant facts.
Promotional poster for the event held at UWC on 14 November 2019
Part 2: The trouble with Robin DiAngelo
A succinct summary of DiAngelo’s views can be gained by watching her presentation at UWC, a recording of which is freely available on YouTube.
Asanda (the moderator) opened the event by setting out a few “ground rules” which included the following instruction to white audience members:
“As a white person that is in this room, we are happy and we are welcoming of your comments and your statements and your questions, but again, think about the space that you are taking up, and think about your ability to allow the voices in this room of people of colour to be heard. And, most importantly, please make sure that if you are going to bring your White Fragility here, that you are ready for us to engage with it. OK?”
Following this ominous welcome, DiAngelo treated her audience to an hour of anti-white invective dressed up in the language of Social Justice. This performance revealed at least six distinct ideological and behavioural problems on her part.
Problem number 1: The displacement of individualism
The centrepiece of DiAngelo’s ideology (indeed, of Woke Ideology in general) is the rejection of individualism in favour of notions of collective responsibility and collective guilt. This is reflected in the following remarks:
“I am going to challenge a very precious ideology in Western-oriented white settler colonialist contexts. I am going to challenge individualism. I am not going to grant any white person in this room any individuality for the next hour… I am going to generalise about white people for the next hour.”
DiAngelo is critical of what she refers to as the “mainstream definition of racism”. By this she means “an individual who consciously does not like people based on race and who intentionally seeks to be mean.” DiAngelo disputes every aspect of this definition, particularly the reference to individual responsibility, conscious wrongdoing and the need for intent to be present. She says that this approach protects “systemic racism” because:
“this definition makes it virtually impossible to talk to the average white person about the inevitable absorption of a racist worldview and the development of racist patterns and investments that we get from living in this society. And I think that this definition is the root of all white defensiveness on this topic.”
Having shifted the focus away from specific events and individual responsibility, DiAngelo is able to promote the Marxist concept of “systemic racism” which, she alleges, harms all black people and benefits all white people.
“Racism is a global system… it has different nuances and adaptations in different contexts, but it consistently results in an unequal distribution of resources between white people and people of colour overall, with white people consistently the beneficiaries of that distribution. It is a system, not an event.”
This lays the foundation for one of the main assertions made by Woke activists, namely that all disparities that exist among different groups of people can only be explained by systemic racism.
Problem number 2: The dismissal of dissent
Some of DiAngelo’s assertions appear to be based on very dubious academic research or, quite possibly, on absolutely nothing at all. For example, she made the following remarks:
“The research is very, very clear in the U.S., and I am sure that there is similar research [in South Africa]. By age 3 to 4, all children understand that it is better to be white.”
“All white people internalise superiority from a very early age.”
“Basically, cradle to grave, most white people live in segregation, with no sense of loss.”
It is hard to know what to make of these assertions. But then DiAngelo is not interested in your opinion, stating with patronising dismissiveness:
“If you are white and you have not devoted YEARS of sustained study, struggle and focus on this topic, [then] your opinions are necessarily misinformed and superficial.”
In other words, just sit down, shut up and accept what the Woke Commissars are saying without question or dissent. This obtuseness is a standard tactic of post-modernist Marxist academics, as it allows them to level accusations of racism without the need to present any real proof or cogent justification. DiAngelo notes as much:
“I think it is just absurd that white people get to be the objective arbiters of whether racism is real or not.”
“Racism is complex. You don’t have to understand it for it to be valid.”
Any social-justice warrior implicitly understands that getting people to accept allegations of racism is the secret to winning the moral high ground. And this is key – for once you have secured the moral high ground, the battle to capture an institution is 90% won.
Problem number 3: Catastrophising and gross exaggeration
According to DiAngelo, racism is ubiquitous and all-consuming:
“No white person can avoid having internalised superiority… which comes out of [our] pores”.
“Racism is infused in everything and nothing has exempted me from its forces as a white person.” 
“The status quo of your society and my society is racism. That is the status quo, that is 24/7, 365. It is not an aberration. It is the norm. It is the default. All of your institutions reproduce it… As a white person I move through racist societies in racial comfort.” 
“All peoples who are not perceived or defined as white experience racism… There is something profoundly anti-black in this world and in this culture… there are two poles: white is here and black is there… the darker you are, the more compounded is the oppression.“
For DiAngelo, white people cannot be anything other than racist. The question is simply whether they are less or more racist on a spectrum of racism.
Of course, all of this requires the total deconstruction and re-ordering of society. Nothing is enough. Nothing will ever be enough for the Wokes until everything of value is completely broken down and ground into dust.
Problem number 4: The impossibility of white people ever achieving redemption
If you were thinking that good deeds might earn you some credit, think again.
DiAngelo has particular scorn for what she calls “white progressives”, stating that “white progressives cause the most daily harm to people of colour.” She is equally contemptuous towards white people who promote colour blindness or who claim to treat everyone the same or who prefer class-based analysis over identity. She dismisses all of this as a fallacy whilst also asserting that white women who are married to black men can still hold a racist worldview.
How about trying to be friends with black people? Not acceptable. According to DiAngelo:
“I bring my group’s history with me and it is a history of harm. Yes, I am Robin your friend but I am also Robin your white friend and I bring the history into the room with me.”
OK, how about just smiling?
“Over-smiling allows white people to mask an anti-Blackness that is foundational to our very existence as white.”
At some point, you have to stop being appalled by DiAngelo and should just laugh at her.
Problem number 5: Outright bullying
DiAngelo uses a hectoring tone in her presentations and her behaviour is often bossy and abusive. She acknowledges that this is by design, stating that:
“If I do a good job, this won’t be a completely comfortable talk for the white people here today.” 
“I am not here to uphold white comfort. I am here to unsettle it. Because we will not get where we need to go from a place of white comfort.”
Half-way through the event at the UWC, DiAngelo noticed that a white woman in the audience was using a laptop. DiAngelo snapped at the woman:
“I would like to also ask any white person right now with their laptop open to close it or to go and do your work outside of the room. Because regardless of why you are on your laptop it sends a message. And we have to start paying attention to how we inhabit space.”
Later, in the question-and-answer session, the white woman who had been the target of DiAngelo’s ire plaintively explained that she had merely been using her laptop to take notes of the talk (rather than to do other work) and that she had, in fact, even taken a day off work to attend the seminar. A murmur rippled through the audience. The prey had fallen for the bait – and DiAngelo quickly pounced:
“Intentions and impact are two different things and intentions don’t excuse impact… you may feel falsely accused of something and this is where humility comes in… so there is something you are missing.”
Over a period of ten full minutes a number of panel members gleefully took turns to castigate the startled white woman about her “White Fragility” in front of an audience which lapped up every word.  It was a textbook cancellation.
Problem number 6: Inflaming racial tensions in South Africa.
The final problem with DiAngelo’s work relates to the predictable and, I believe, intended impact which it has in the context of South Africa. Unsurprisingly, it did not take long for radical racial nationalists to effectively hijack the event at UWC. One man in the audience declared that:
“The best way to deal with racism is through violence! If a person is racist to you then you must retaliate with violence!”
This comment attracted nervous laughter and a smattering of applause from the audience. Asanda, the moderator, more or less endorsed his view, stating:
“we are not in South Africa until we invoke violence as a response, right? This is the country that we live in. It was built by violence and it will continue to be violent… I want to tweak your question a little bit and maybe say, ‘What kind of structural violence can we as black people respond with when we are visited by violence? In order for people to be aware that what they have just done is actually structurally violent’.”
Another audience member asked “Do white people in this room think that black people should be given the land back in the country?” The next audience member replied “we shouldn’t even be discussing this! What we should be discussing now is when is the land being given back and how?”
DiAngelo’s South African representative, Edwin Cleophas, closed the talk with the following remarks:
“White people are not used to be addressed by a white person on their White Fragility, their guilt, their so-called pain, of having all this wealth and comfort that they are struggling to know how to deal with it… [White people] are struggling with this. We need them to struggle with this because we have been in the struggle long enough and alone.
We need them to be part of the struggle because they hold the keys to our land! And not land with compensation. I am talking land without compensation!
The land is coming back whether you like it or not… People of colour have had enough. 25 years of talking is more than enough. Now we need to move to action… 87% of what white people own should go back to black people in South Africa – and I support that!”
DiAngelo simply sat through all of this, a look of self-satisfaction on her face. Her work at UWC was done. She had achieved what the likes of Bell Pottinger could only dream of. She could now retire to the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands before flying back to the safety of Seattle on the West Coast of America – business class, of course.
An image from DiAngelo’s presentation at UWC, showing a slide summarising her main points
Part 3: American cultural sewage
Whilst DiAngelo jets in and out of South Africa, Lovelyn, Teresa and Asanda have a permanent presence in the country.
In an earlier essay, I explained how this trio of diversity consultants gained extraordinary access to dozens of schools on the back of sensational allegations of racism made during the height of the “anti-racism” movement which began in June 2020. Subsequent investigations at numerous schools (usually conducted by independent law firms) have shown that the overwhelming majority of these allegations were either bogus or wildly exaggerated. Where adverse findings have been made, schools typically refuse to publish the legal reports, and there are worrying signs that investigators have viewed alleged incidents through the lens of American Critical Race Theory. Disturbingly, children and former students who made false allegations of racism are, in some cases, closely connected to figures on the inside of the diversity-and-transformation consulting industry.
The essential problem with all of this is that DiAngelo and her Woke acolytes have effectively dragged an entire septic tank of American cultural sewage across the Atlantic Ocean and have dumped it in South Africa’s schools. Sometimes, the presence of American Critical Race Theory is plain and straightforward. You can see it in the following posters displayed on the corridors of St Cyprian’s School in Cape Town.
Posters which appeared at St Cyprian’s School in Cape Town promote ideas based on the principles of American Critical Race Theory
You can also see it in the “Working with Whiteness Club” which was established at Herschel Girls School.
Herschel Girls School established an extra-mural group entitled “Working with Whiteness”
DiAngelo’s books and the books of other radical American Critical Race Theorists appear on many specially promoted bookshelves in school libraries as well as on various recommended reading lists.
St Andrew’s School for Girls in Bedfordview promotes literature on “Microaggressions”, “White Fragility”, “White Privilege” and other concepts from American Critical Race Theory
The excerpt above is taken from Herschel Girls School’s Transformation, Equity and Belonging Report.
St John’s College has endorsed various authors whose works regularly amplify anti-white tropes. Notably, Kimberlé Crenshaw was one of the authors of the seminal book “Critical Race Theory, The Key Writings that Formed the Movement”, published in 1996, with the foreword being written by Cornel West.
St Stithians Girls’ College prescribes the “Me and White Supremacy Workbook” written by Layla Saad with a foreword by Robin DiAngelo
St Cyprian’s School in Cape Town has dedicated a section of its library to “Social Justice Anti-Racism” with books that appear to be drawn exclusively from the world of American Critical Race Theory. The school states that this shelf is “on permanent display, prominently visible near the photocopiers.”
In June 2021, parents at St Cyprian’s School in Cape Town were sent a newsletter which encouraged them to join the “White Ally Affinity Group – Book Club.” The book currently being studied was none other than White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo.
The author of this part of the newsletter appears to have been fully inducted into the Wokeness cult:
“I am aware that we cannot rely on our friends and colleagues of colour to educate white people about the journey of transformation. We need to do the work! I wanted to share my understanding with other white colleagues and therefore started the White Ally Affinity Group – Book Club. I do feel that I am doing God’s work. Several of us meet weekly and use Robin DiAngelo’s book as a guide.”
Not to be outdone, Herschel Girls School appears to have set up a similar reading group, with their choice of book being Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad and Robin DiAngelo. Not everyone was impressed:
The emergence of such groups mimics developments in America. According to the mother of a 19-year-old student at one American East Coast university, regular “White Fragility” evenings leave the campus “in a constant state of hysteria about systemic racism. My daughter has to sit there and listen to how white people are the root of all evil. I sent her to university to broaden her education, to prepare her for the outside world. Instead, she’s being fed a diatribe about how all white people are evil.” Many South African schools now use ideology-laden American terminology such as “people of colour”, “BIPOC”, “white privilege” and “microaggressions” – words which were unheard of in this country before June 2020.
Dozens of teachers have told me about how they have been compelled to attend “transformation” or “diversity” seminars which were every bit as disturbing as what transpired when DiAngelo appeared at UWC. According to Rustenburg Girls’ High School’s 2020 year book, “all staff attended a two-day Racial Literacy study group session and some members of the Management began their Brave Spaces course (based on the book White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo) which took place over a number of weeks.” Lovelyn's firm, L&N Advisors, has been instrumental in preparing a comprehensive programme to assist the school in becoming "anti-racist".
One teacher at St Stithians Girls’ College described the staff seminar which Lovelyn held at the school as being “utterly, utterly horrific” with another colleague telling a source that they were made to feel as though they were “shit on a shoe”. At Roedean, staff were so unimpressed with Lovelyn’s presentations that they secretly started to refer to her as “Loveless”. Many Roedean teachers were left devastated by the entire episode and, since then, have not recovered their self-confidence or love for teaching. According to a source who was closely involved with St Mary’s DSG in Pretoria, 26 out of 36 academic staff lodged a formal grievance with the school following one of Lovelyn's seminars with students. Over half the academic staff had resigned by mid-2021, whilst none of the high school Mathematics teachers who were employed by the school at the end of 2019 are still there.
It is concerning that Lovelyn and Asanda have been permitted to hold “adult-free” seminars with children. This has occurred at a number of schools including Herschel Girls School and St Cyprian’s School. Some of the children who have been left alone with these consultants are as young as 13 years old. The obvious question which arises is whether children at these schools have been subjected to the sort of deranged indoctrination (“white people have racism coming out of their pores” / “By the age of 3 or 4 all children know that it is better to be white”) and idiotic abuse (“white people being friends with black people is problematic”/ “white people smiling at black people is racist”) that occurred when DiAngelo appeared at UWC? After all, in Lovelyn’s own words (contained in her Instagram post above), Robin DiAngelo “has done amazing work which has been foundational to my work and engagements around identity and belonging, especially when it comes to race.”
Naturally, it is impossible to know exactly what occurs during these events, although the debacle which occurred last year when Asanda held an “adult-free” diversity session at Fish Hoek High School gives us some indication. The event made national news, with many children left in tears and requiring counselling the week before end-of-year exams.
The impact of these sessions has clearly been to divide and to polarise both staffrooms and classrooms. The farewell section of Herschel Girls School’s 2021 yearbook stretches over six whole pages. A number of the staff featured in this section have left the school on account of the work environment simply becoming too toxic. One parent at St Mary’s School in Waverley showed me photographs from his daughter’s recent school camp. All of the black girls were clustered together in one photo, whilst all of the white girls were clustered in another. Whereas they had all been friends before 2020, attempts to introduce “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” into the school had more often led to “Division, Exclusion and Indoctrination.”
DiAngelo’s influence is far from just token or cosmetic, and it is certainly not a passing phase. To use terminology that Woke activists would understand, her influence is “structural” and “institutionalised”. It takes the form of sweeping programmes of transformation which are informed by the ideology of American Critical Race Theory.
A number of schools have begun initiatives to “decolonise” their curricula or are developing a Social Justice Curriculum based upon the principles of American Critical Race Theory and theories of decolonisation.
Discipline policies have been rewritten to recognise “microaggressions” and otherwise stack the deck against the accused individual in a way that is incompatible with basic civil rights.
Admissions, scholarship, hiring and procurement policies have become heavily racialised rather than being based on merit or financial need.
“Safe spaces” for “people of colour” and LGBT individuals have been established or proposed to be established at various schools.
A full account of these reforms is beyond the scope of this essay (indeed, it would fill an entire book), but it is clear that the influence of American Critical Race Theory in many South African schools is immense and that the damage that has been done is enormous, with many schools being virtually unrecognisable compared to what they were just a few years ago.
The key point to note is that each of the schools mentioned in this essay – St Stithians Girls’ College, Roedean, St Mary’s School in Waverley, St Mary’s DSG in Pretoria, Herschel Girls’ School, St Cyprian’s School, Rustenburg Girls’ High School, St John’s College and St Andrew’s School for Girls – are clients or have previously been clients of L&N Advisors. I also do not think that it is a coincidence that the scourge of “racism” seems to be most prevalent in schools with the largest budgets for Woke consultants.
Part 4: Conclusion
At first glance, it is hard to discern any obvious problem with South Africa’s elite schools. I am told that, in most instances, academic performance is as strong as ever. Whenever I visit, for example, St John’s College or St Stithians College, I am struck by the beauty and peacefulness of the campuses. The physical facilities are absolutely superb. The swimming pools are still blue.
However, the worrying reality is that many of our schools now operate in the shadow of Robin DiAngelo and her warped ideology of American Critical Race Theory, an ideology which blends Identity Politics with Post-Modernist Marxism. Children are being trained to hate on the basis of race, indoctrinated by bogus ideology that has been washed downstream from the United States. Bullying of racial minorities (conducted under the cover of “anti-racism” activism) is now pervasive and the accounts which many parents and teachers have given me are deeply disturbing.
Many people who have not attended a diversity seminar based on the principles of American Critical Race Theory (such as DiAngelo’s performance at UWC in 2019) will be taken aback by just how absurd and how toxic this ideology is. I also suspect that most parents do not realise how direct and significant DiAngelo’s influence has been and how closely connected she is to prominent consultants who are highly active in South African schools. Many are simply unaware of the almost Maoist indoctrination that is causing so much discord and division.
In short, South Africa has enough problems of its own to worry about. It cannot afford to take on all of America’s baggage. It cannot afford the emotional manipulation or the borderline financial extortion that comes with Woke activism. It cannot afford Robin DiAngelo and her crackpot acolytes. The task facing all South Africans who oppose the Woke Ascendancy – all of us who believe in civil rights, debate, diversity of opinion, identity blindness combined with pro-poor policies, academic excellence and, ultimately, freedom – is to retrieve our schools from the long, sinister shadow of Robin DiAngelo and bring them back into the light of a classical, liberal education.
 Robin DiAngelo seminar on White Fragility held at UWC, 14 November 2019: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fvSXtGN2ME
 DiAngelo seminar at 00:01 – 01:05.
 DiAngelo seminar at 21:55 – 22:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 36:05 – 37:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 36:05 – 37:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 23:30 – 24:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 33:35 – 33:50.
 DiAngelo seminar at 34:15 – 34:30.
 DiAngelo seminar at 39:25 – 39:40.
 DiAngelo seminar at 19:00 – 19:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 59:15 – 59:30.
 DiAngelo seminar at 59:35 – 59:50.
 DiAngelo seminar at 52:40 – 53:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 59:00 – 59:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 20:30 – 21:05.
 DiAngelo seminar at 26:35 – 27:40.
 DiAngelo seminar at 38:10 – 38:55.
 DiAngelo seminar at 40:40 – 42:00.
 DiAngelo seminar at 44:00 – 45:00.
 DiAngelo seminar at 46:30 – 46:40.
 DiAngelo seminar at 49:20 – 50:00.
 DiAngelo seminar at 59:50 – 1:00:15.
 Robin DiAngelo Nice Racism 2021 at page 53.
 DiAngelo seminar at 20:20 – 20:30.
 DiAngelo seminar at 20:55 – 21:10.
 DiAngelo seminar at 1:52:35 – 1:53:00.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:10:55 – 2:11:35.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:20:10 – 2:21:20.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:12:20 – 2:23:40.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:29:35 – 2:29:50.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:29:55 – 2:31:00.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:28:25 – 2:28:35.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:28:50 – 2:29:05.
 DiAngelo seminar at 2:34:40 – 2:36:50.
 I would like to credit the Twitter user @AnnoDomini1978 with inventing this magnificent term.
 Herschel Girls School Transformation, Equity and Belonging Report, 2019 at page 5, available here: https://www.herschel.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/Herschel-Diversity-and-Transformation-Report-2019.pdf
 As per email to parents dated 3 September 2021.
 As per email to parents dated 23 June 2021.
 https://issuu.com/rghs/docs/2020_rghs_magazine_3 at page 29.
 As per interviews held with teachers and parents.
 As per email to parents dated 3 September 2021.