Author Layla Saad headshot next to her book cover Me And White Supremacy

Me & White Supremacy: notes on the 2021 book by Layla Saad

Allyship is not an identity, but a lifelong process.

In twisted and complex American race relations, that amounts to a controversial stance. The last several years have been especially polarizing and yet somehow also clarifying and therefore productive.

For my work, myself and my community, I try to follow closely contributions to disentangling these systems. That’s why I picked up a copy of Me & White Supremacy, the 2021 book by Layla Saad. The book is structured as a kind of work book with journal prompts scheduled to run as a “28-day challenge.”

It also reads like an effective review of current recommendations on what Angela Davis famously called “anti-racism.” Whether you’re new to the conversation, or a professional that strives to keep engaged with the conversation, I recommend it. Below, I share my notes to review in the future.

Here are my notes:

  • “Love is a feeling that drives you beyond self-gain.”
  • Not shame, it’s discovery
  • Audre Lorde: “Revolution is not a one time event.”
  • Famously, Peggy McIntosh uses the knapsack metaphor in 1988 to popularize the concept of “white privilege”
  • “White privilege is the reward that white and white-passing people receive in exchange for participating in the system of white supremacy — whether that participation is voluntary or involuntary.:
  • “Whiteness doesn’t discuss itself.”
  • Robin DiAngelo’s 2018 book introduced “white fragility” as term for white people shutting down on race conversations — it has since become a monumentally polarizing concept
  • “Tone policing”
  • “A white person’s expression of anger is often seen as righteous, whereas a black person’s anger is often seen as aggressive and dangerous. (47)
  • White silence
  • The famous “doll tests,” in which even Black children prioritized white dolls
  • “Most white people are more worried about being racist than about whether their actions are in fact racist”: Austin Channing Brown
  • White exceptionalism is the progressive idea that we don’t need to do the work because we’re the good ones
  • “If you believe you are exceptional, you will not do the work.” (71)
  • Eduardo Silva: the new racism, “racism without racists”
  • Moya Bailey’s “misogynoir” is like Kimberly Crenshsw’s intersectionality’s (89)
  • Ta Nehisi Coates: “black children are born endangered”
  • “Racism is the coupling of prejudice with power.” (107) [This is the standard argument against there being anything such as ‘reverse racism’
  • Cultural appropriation: do the people creating that culture benefit from its use or not? Do I understand its cultural significance?
  • Black fishing: Black culture as product
  • Allyship is not an identity — it is a lifelong process. “ PeerNetBC
  • White apathy because of “perfectionism” : I don’t know it all yet to help
  • Toni Morrison was asked why she always writes about, so she says: Tolstoy wrote about race too, we just don’t treat whiteness as a race.
  • White saviorism and it’s industrial complex of volunteers and missionaries (we must serve not lead) (148)
  • Guide to allyship by Amelie Lamont: allyship is “taking on the struggle as your own” (160)
  • Optical allyship only looks like you are
  • Briarpatch piece on calling out vs calling in (doing so privately)
  • More important is what you do after called out (or called in) when, as Brene Brown calls it “the warm wash of shame” comes over you. Reacting matters more than initial transgression (164)
  • If we step on someone’s toe, we are socialized to apologize — even though we didn’t intend to it, we know we caused pain. When we are called out/in, we drop that instinct and go into fight/flight
  • Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
  • bell hooks: “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy”
  • [I’m thinking: What does it mean that the 15th amendment for Black men came before 19th amendment for women? And then Jim Crow?]
  • White feminism will say race is divisive. Author’s example: Women’s March in 2017 but not BLM march
  • Cornel West : “Never forget that justice is what love looks like in public.”
  • What would my personal values be? Curious, justice, community, better tomorrow
  • Protest, donate, give business
  • Beverly Tatum: “The relevant question is not whether all whites are racist but how we can move more white people from a position of active or passive racism to one of active anti racism.“
  • “I invite you to not run away from the pain but to allow it to break your heart open” (199)
  • “Anti racism is not about perfectionism”
  • A commitment statement: I am committed to using my voice for anti racism work by..

Leave a Reply