Me and White Supremacy is a book written by Layla Saad. Layla Saad is an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman who was born in Wales and is based in Doha, Qatar.
A book was not the original concept or intention of Saad, she initially started a 28-day Instagram challenge at the beginning of 2020, she started this challenge in order to help people to understand white supremacy more and what they need to do in order to dismantle it. However, Saad decided to turn this Instagram challenge into a book in hopes of reaching as many people as possible. This book was made to be a resource for white people who want to challenge white supremacy but have no idea where to start.
The book is split into short chapters, each of them are followed by reflection prompts or thought-provoking questions that are designed for the individual reading to go through over the space of 28 days. The aim of the prompts and questions is to support white individuals specifically, in expanding their intellectual and emotional understanding of white supremacy and racism. Enabling them to take ownership of their current participation in the system and ultimately teach each reader how to play their part in dismantling it, both within themselves and their communities.
What is white supremacy?
White supremacy is the racist ideology that is based on the belief that white people are superior in many ways in comparison to people of other races, meaning that white people should be dominant over other races. This is not just a way of thinking, it extends to how systems and institutions are structured to uphold white dominance. It is a system we have all been born into, whether we have been aware of it or not. This gives white individuals privileges, power and protection that people within other races do not have. As a system it was designed to keep the privileged people blissfully unaware of the advantages they actually have and of the fact that people who do not look like them do not get the same treatment. Non-white people are obviously more aware of the difference in privilege and the disadvantages it brings.
“Racial discomfort is inherent to an authentic examination of white supremacy. By avoiding this discomfort, the racist status quo is protected.” – Layla Saad.
In this book Saad explains that the system of white supremacy was not actually created by anyone who is currently alive today, however it is still maintained by those who hold white privilege. She spoke about how every day in small and some not so small ways she was always reminded that she was less than people who held white privilege. Whether it was being treated differently by teachers, rarely seeing herself represented in the media or in books, to never being able to find a foundation shade that matched her skin tone. Her and many others have been treated like an afterthought for the whole of their lives.
The book being broken down into 28 days’ worth of topics is a brilliant way to help people to slowly understand what white supremacy is and what they can do to change it, but in a way that is not overwhelming for the consumer. It allows you to take your time, sit with the book, think and reflect. It offers a necessary look at how all white people participate in white supremacy every single day. It is organised and easy to follow, whilst still being deeply humbling, and soul shattering as it peels away the seemingly endless layers of our relationship to white supremacy.
When I read this book, it made me truly consider what being actively anti-racist actually means, what it requires of me on a daily basis and how the volume of my inaction or silence (due to fear of doing or saying something wrong) was impacting others, and how much white supremacy and racism have conditioned me as a white woman, particularly on a subconscious level.
This book is a hard read in terms of realising how much you may have failed other people in the past, it can make you feel uncomfortable, But is feeling uncomfortable for 28 days a reason to not read this book? Absolutely not when people like Saad are made to feel this way every single day. For me that feeling of unease just amplified the fact I needed to read this, even though I wasn’t aware I did before I started.
In the words of Saad “Here’s to doing what is right and not what is easy.”