- ELLIE STAMELOS -
You’ve probably heard of concepts like white privilege and cultural appropriation. Hopefully, you’ve even started to unpack the ways in which these are present in your life. There are, however, many more notions connected to white supremacy that white (and even white-passing) people need to contemplate. How does white exceptionalism show up in your life? What is your role in participating in and upholding it? What about white silence and white apathy? White saviourism? Optical allyship?
If these terms are unfamiliar to you, or are familiar but are triggering feelings of discomfort or unease, it means there is work for you to do. Fortunately, the Me and White Supremacy guidebook by Layla F. Saad will support you to do exactly this work. The guidebook is an exceedingly valuable tool that will help you to understand white supremacy and unpack your role within it. Starting out as an Instagram challenge in 2018, Me and White Supremacy has evolved into an international cultural movement that is, according to Saad, “part education, part activation”.
Saad has delved deep into the many facets of white supremacy, providing statistics, testimonies and anecdotes that highlight just how prevalent and insidious white supremacy truly is in our society. This is not a passive read – through use of daily journal prompts, the book challenges the reader to grapple with their complicity in maintaining this system that harms and kills Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC). The ultimate aim of engaging with Me and White Supremacy is for the reader to begin ‘doing the work’ in acknowledging and activating their personal responsibility in dismantling white supremacy.
Readers need to come to this book with pure defencelessness and a true a willingness to learn and change their thinking and behaviour. The book is not about being so overcome with shame that you are too incapacitated to take meaningful action, but neither is it about giving out ‘ally cookies’ or appeasing people for doing the bare minimum of simply not being visibly or outwardly racist. Saad asserts that the guidebook is “both heartbreaking and heart-expanding” and makes it very clear that white people must stop hiding from doing this work. She helps readers to understand that it is not acceptable to use emotional sensitivity, anxiety or complicated family dynamics as excuses for not engaging with anti-racism work or calling out problematic behaviours; after all, BIPOC struggle with all of these issues too. There is no ‘day off’ from the toxic impacts of racism and white supremacy for them, and nor can there be for us if we are to be true allies. Saad positions us as readers to comprehend just how critical it is to be actively anti-racist in as many aspects of our lives as possible. As author Elizabeth Gilbert states in her testimonial about this work; “don’t put it off and don’t look away. It’s time.”
Each month Ellie Stamelos from The Nasty Woman Club will be reviewing popular books that look at issues and topics in the world of intersectional feminism.
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