Title: 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.