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Professor labels Michelangelo painting example of ‘white supremacy’

Iconic image gives false impression whiteness is ‘ideal’ human race: author

One of the most recognized paintings in the world, Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam,” has been labeled a symbol of “white supremacy” by prominent anti-racism author Robin DiAngelo.

Speaking with “Not Your Ordinary Parts” podcast host Jalon Johnson on Jan. 15, DiAngelo said the 500-year-old fresco gives people the false impression that God is white and whiteness is the “ideal” human race.

“Everyone else is a deviation from that ideal,” she said.

DiAngelo, known for her New York Times bestselling book, “White Fragility,” said she frequently uses the image in her presentations to help people understand white supremacy.

Renaissance artist Michelangelo painted the scene around 1511 on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Italy; the image depicts God reaching down from Heaven, surrounded by angels, to create the first man, Adam.

DiAngelo, however, incorrectly named the painting and one of its subjects in the podcast interview.

“You may be surprised that the single image I use to capture the concept of white supremacy is Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ‘God creating man,’” she said.

She also misidentified Adam by calling him David – another biblical figure that Michelangelo is famous for sculpting.

“God is in a cloud and there’s all these angels, and he’s reaching out and he’s touching – I don’t know who that is, David or something – and God is white and David’s white and the angels are white. That is the perfect convergence of white supremacy, patriarchy,” she told Johnson.

DiAngelo, who is white herself, is an affiliate associate professor of education at the University of Washington and a frequent guest speaker at other universities.

Her ideas about race, despite their seeming popularity in higher education, have been met with widespread criticism by authors and scholars, many faulting them as illogical, divisive, and destructive.

Columbia University linguist Professor John McWhorter described DiAngelo’s bestselling book as condescending in a 2020 article at The Atlantic, saying it “diminishes Black people in the name of dignifying us.”

Then, in December, McWhorter responded to DiAngelo’s criticism of his own writing, saying she mistook him for a political conservative; he is a liberal Democrat.

“I’m ‘very conservative’ like Clarence Thomas and Ben Carson? She has clearly read barely a word of my work,” McWhorter wrote in a post on X. “At least when I slammed her book I had read every word, and I maintain that White Fragility is literally the worst book ever written. It’s so bad it’s an achievement.”

MORE: Why Robin DiAngelo’s ‘White Fragility’ is dangerous

IMAGE: Cezary Wojtkowski/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Micaiah Bilger is an assistant editor at The College Fix.