Our book club
Book of the month
Me and White Supremacy
Author: Layla Saad
A review from our co-founder Callum Thomas
What were your impressions before and after reading?
When I saw the title of this book my first thoughts were that it must be aimed at an ultra-right-wing audience that self-identify as white supremacists. It isn’t. It is a book that, as a white male, was not very comfortable to read, while also being highly educational and thought provoking. It gave me more of an insight to the perspectives of Black, Indigenous and People of colour (collectively referred to using the acronym BIPOC throughout the book, as is common in North America). Can you talk us through the content of the book? This book is comprehensive and enlightening. After opening with White Privilege, the author deals with the following topics:
- White Fragility – being sensitive to talking about privilege and racism)
- White Centering – the centering of the white perspectives and white characters in situations, media and entertainment
- White Apathy – choosing to ignore racism and discrimination
- White Silence – not speaking up when witnessing racism or discrimination
- White Superiority
- White Saviorism
All of these concepts could be described without adding the word ‘’White’’ in front of them, but the point is to shine a spotlight on how whiteness factors into the lived experiences of Black people, indigenous people and people of colour in the US. At the end of each chapter are a series of questions designed to get readers thinking about your true lived experience and how you may be consciously or unconsciously maintaining the status quo. Why would you recommend this book? Anyone who is uncomfortable with accepting that White privilege exists and that it needs to be addressed will find this book difficult to read, although all the more important to read I would suggest. It does feel personal, but it also feels necessary and fair. Talking about privilege feels far more personal when it is made more specific and labelled ‘’White privilege’’. At first this made me feel defensive because I honestly believe that I have worked hard for everything I have achieved in my life. However, it now seems very clear to me that I benefit from unearned advantages by being White such as being trusted more readily, being given the benefit of the doubt in certain situations, and through generally having easier access to more opportunity. These are things that I have taken for granted and never really recognised as privilege. This book provides powerful accounts and explanations around how Black people, Indigenous people and people of colour face oppression while living in a system of white oppression. It also suggests ways in which White people can stop contributing to the inequity, first through awareness and then through meaningful action. The author finishes by asking readers if they are ready to lose some of their privilege, which could be achieved through actions such as passing on some opportunities and recommending others, or through sponsoring someone at times instead of promoting yourself. Voluntarily giving up privilege and transferring it to those that lack it is where action becomes meaningful. It is perhaps the true sign of allyship.
Girl, Woman, Other
Title: Girl, Woman, Other
Authors: Bernardine Evaristo
Why this book:
This book follows the lives of 12 characters – most of them being Black British women, each with their own chapter.
This book is a useful resource to understand the concept of intersectionality in real-life settings. The characters are real, human, and have complex identities that often overlap – expect to read about race, class, gender, age, faith, and sexual orientation.
There is one clear message that echoes throughout the book: there is no wrong way to be a woman.
With March being International Women’s Month, what better book is there to suggest?
Title: Women, Race, Money and Representation. How Pay Gap Reporting Is Shaking Corporate Vulnerability
Authors: Michelle Gyimah
Why this book:
Pay gap reporting can be a difficult topic to discuss within the workplace, often involving feelings of fear, shame, and reluctance to the prospect of public scrutiny. This White Paper seeks to explore pay gap reporting from all angles, focusing on the emotional factors often at play on the company’s side.
This paper is free to access and can be found at this link: https://equalitypays.vipmembervault.com/products/courses/view/1071087.
Title: We are everywhere: Protest, Power, and Pride in the History of Queer Liberation
Authors: Matthew Riemer and Leighton Brown
Why this book:
“This book chronicles the history of the queer liberation movement. Through the usage of several photographs along with detailed narratives, this book shares different accounts of queer activism throughout the decades. From 19th century Europe to the Stonewall Riots and beyond, this book serves as an excellent visual representation of the journey through LGBTQ+ history. A great resource for anyone hoping to learn and understand more about LGBTQ+ history.”
2020 Bookclub Entries
Title: The Better Allies Approach to Hiring
Author: Karen Catlin
Why: Only 75 pages and packed with practical tips, we think this book is a precious tool for any organisation who is committed to attract and retain a diverse workforce.
This book serves as a guide, showcasing proven approaches for connecting with qualified candidates from underrepresented demographics, and helping you design a hiring process that will set them up for success.
Title: What Works: Gender Equality by Design
Author: Iris Bohnet
A mini review by Callum Thomas: “The book is primarily about gender diversity, but is full of relevant information and examples across many other areas of diversity
It struck me hard that we have decades of successful (and unsuccessful) efforts to learn from – we really have a responsibility, and a huge opportunity, to learn from what has been done before.
A quote from the book that stuck with me is ”If you are going to advocate for diversity, be prepared to define it, simply”. I absolutely agree with this!
There are some great examples of when quotas have worked and when they have not, the effective use of mentoring and sponsoring, the power of visible examples that others can follow, accountability, gathering data and many others.
There are some great practical tips – such as hiring in batches makes diversity easier to achieve that hiring in series, and how to create signposts and steer behaviour through design of processes and workflows.
A powerful message I took away: if the ”privileged” see D&I initiatives as a zero sum game (meaning that the pie stays the same size and their share will get smaller), then it is hard to get their buy in
Title: Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race
Author: Reni Eddo-Lodge
Why: ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ is the essential handbook for anyone who wants to approach the conversation around the history of race and race relations in modern Britain.