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Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

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Based on the viral Instagram challenge that captivated participants worldwide, Me and White Supremacy takes readers on a 28-day journey, complete with journal prompts, to do the necessary and vital work that can ultimately lead to improving race relations.

Updated and expanded from the original workbook (downloaded by nearly 100,000 people), this critical text helps you take the work deeper by adding more historical and cultural contexts, sharing moving stories and anecdotes, and including expanded definitions, examples, and further resources, giving you the language to understand racism, and to dismantle your own biases, whether you are using the book on your own, with a book club, or looking to start family activism in your own home.

This book will walk you step-by-step through the work of examining:

Examining your own white privilege What allyship really means Anti-blackness, racial stereotypes, and cultural appropriation Changing the way that you view and respond to race How to continue the work to create social change

Awareness leads to action, and action leads to change. For readers of White Fragility, White Rage, So You Want To Talk About Race, The New Jim Crow, How to Be an Anti-Racist and more who are ready to closely examine their own beliefs and biases and do the work it will take to create social change.

258 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 28, 2020

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About the author

Layla F. Saad

18 books497 followers
Layla Saad is a globally respected writer, speaker and podcast host on the topics of race, identity, leadership, personal transformation and social change.

As an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman who was born and grew up in the West, and lives in Middle East, Layla has always sat at a unique intersection of identities from which she is able to draw rich and intriguing perspectives. Layla's work is driven by her powerful desire to become a good ancestor; to live and work in ways that leave a legacy of healing and liberation for those who will come after she is gone.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,344 reviews
Profile Image for Asderan.
16 reviews27 followers
February 9, 2020
I think white people with good intentions need to hear this from another decent person: those hunches that "something seems off" you had when you read this book weren't just your "white fragility" speaking. You aren't a white supremacist for being suspicious of the ideas in this book.

I say that because you weren't given the option of considering that when you read this book, which told you how race works in western culture without ever actually feeling the need to prove it was true.

When it comes to tackling social issues, if an author thinks she is going to show realistically what the problems are and what their solutions might be, she first needs to frame them properly within their broadest context: universal human social behavior. Saad fails to do that. I think the failure of this work to really understand its issues in the broad context of human social psychology is a weak point which leads the book into counterproductive labeling, "talk to the hand"-styled dismissiveness, and absurd expectation for people to be able to read others' minds (see: the entire concept of "micro-aggressions.")

Saad and other writers in this genre would do well to compare contemporary American race relations to other "in-group/out-group" scenarios globally. If they did, they would find :
a) The general classes of problems they describe are not in any way uniquely "American" or "white, " and have little to nothing to do with attitudes of racial superiority (therefore labeling it "white supremacy" is inaccurate and irresponsible).
b) Comparatively, the society they are complaining about is among the most inclusive, diverse, and broadly accepting in the world, with an ever increasing number of people having a great degree of access to the center of "normality" within American culture. It certainly isn't perfect, but the notion that the structure of western democracy is a "white supremacist" institution is hyperbolic, to be polite.

The problem is, Saad doesn't actually seem versed in any sort of study of human nature. She is versed in political activism, generation of propaganda, and social manipulation. The entire premise of this book is based in ignorance of general socio-cultural dynamics, and these ideas thrive and grow in an audience that stays similarly ignorant.

Most of the characteristics ascribed to "whiteness" in this work, like much of the recent "anti-racist" literature, are more like general "majority privilege," from which any individual who most closely conforms to any particular culture's general center of "normality" will benefit (in any culture, anywhere on earth). Most of what Saad labels as "white supremacy" is actually just majority members of society taking their own cultural norms for granted, something which really has nothing directly to do with race, and is experienced on various scales everywhere in human society relative to various categories of identity.

Is that a problem for the people displaced by it? Yes, of course! Should we be aware of it and do something about it? Yes! The problem is, this book isn't recognizing the real problems, and the "solutions" presented here, based in anger, resentment, and ignorance, actually exacerbate the problems.

In committing these errors Saad actually moves us further from becoming a unified and inclusive culture, instead hardening the cultural borders, maintaining old and withering racial stratification, and enflaming resentments.

My criticism of this work is not here to suggest there is no such thing as racism, nor that we should not do anything about it. My criticism is actually here because I care very much about eliminating unfair treatment of people based on superficial classifications, and it is pretty clear to me that the foundations for that goal are nowhere to be found in this work.

This work provides "feel good" piety for white people via relief from its own self-constructed world of guilt, and is ultimately hollow and ineffective in improving racial relations. If you want to be a "good ancestor" learn to stop generalizing about people based on their skin color, treat people with basic respect and social boundaries, and learn to find the common ground with people of different backgrounds.

Please, people, think critically. I know we white people all really want to be good white people, but there are major holes in the factual basis, logic, and methods of this work, and the results it provides are not constructive. Treating people with darker skin than you as children and victims in need of protection and special concessions is not how you elevate them to equal status with you.

I think it is an atrocity that the terrible ideas in this book are being passed along as the newest fad extension of what was once a noble civil rights movement. Nobody wants to risk being called a racist for calling out how terrible and poorly informed the philosophy of this book is, but really, it needs to be done.

I originally read this book in the online workbook form, and have a more specifically critical review under that edition here on goodreads.
Profile Image for Seamus  BH.
40 reviews11 followers
June 15, 2020
I did this for the full 28 days. I found it poorly written and not actually helpful.
'How to be an Antiracist' by Ibram X Kendi is highly recommended and is the most thoughtful book I've ever read on this subject, read that instead. His other book 'Stamped from the Beginning' is a very educational history book.
Also recommend the YouTube channel ‘For Harriet’ which dissects topics of race and culture with greater insight. And finally 'The Rundown' with Robin Thede, formally on BET.
Some other authors are listed in comments below.
Profile Image for Corrigan Vaughan.
74 reviews37 followers
April 25, 2020
I'm not necessarily the target audience of this book since I'm not white, but I wanted to check it out anyway. I'd seen friends doing the challenge on her Instagram, so I had a sense of what this was. I'd highly recommend this for the white liberal who's ready and willing to take a hard and uncomfortable look in the mirror. People who read American Dirt and didn't think about why this white author is on the bestseller list for telling a brown story when there are plenty of brown people whose books are overlooked. People who think they're helping by buying Toms or donating their clothes to kids in Africa without realizing they're crushing economies in their white saviorism. People who call themselves allied out loud. People who think being an ally deserves recognition. All those folks who have felt like good white people, but are willing to go deeper and question all that, and bust through the defensiveness that inevitably will rise... they should read this. It is not for folks who are more likely to double down on racism if things aren't presented to them in a nice enough tone. She's not pulling punches here. If your reaction to being told hard truths about yourself is to run the other direction, you're not ready.

And for BIPOC, this book is validating. It's just nice to hear someone name your struggles out loud. I felt some of this stuff in my boooones.
Profile Image for Mehrsa.
2,234 reviews3,657 followers
June 18, 2020
This review applies to this book and a few others like it:

I have a few issues w/ some of the books that everyone is recommending that are meant to teach white people how not to be racist:

A lot of them (though not all) assume that doing "the work" of dismantling white supremacy is about "listening to POC," "speaking out" and generally not thinking certain things, not saying racist things, bringing POC to the table, not stereotyping, not fetishizing, not bringing your hurt feelings to the fight, recognizing privilege, not culturally appropriating etc. A lot of the books talk about the discomfort of dealing with white privilege and the hard emotional work required.

So far so fine, BUT...every white person could do all of this stuff and all the hard emotional work and we would still have different credit systems, race-based home values, differences in school funding, employment disparities, different life expectancies, massive and growing racial wealth gap. None of this stuff needs racism to be perpetuated. It can use your FICO score.

Maybe doing the hard racial justice work is not buying a house in a wealthy white suburb. Or not sending your kid to a "good" (white) school or only voting for representatives that have a progressive tax plan or a reparations bill. I'm not saying that this is it, but it seems to me like we'd get much further toward dismantling white supremacy if we had fewer seminars where we talked about feelings and privilege and more school board meetings and zoning fights and congressional hearings. Oh and breaking up the banks.

I am not saying that these books aren't helpful--it's important to do that personal work too, but the ones I've read (and I've read a substantial amount of them) seem to start and stop at personal comportment and thoughts or at organizational representation and that's not enough.
Profile Image for Chanequa Walker-Barnes.
Author 6 books132 followers
March 16, 2020
From now on, when White people ask me what they should do to combat racism and White supremacy, I’m going to tell them to read Layla Saad’s book. This book is based upon Saad’s Instagram challenge #meandwhitesupremacy, which took White people through a 28-day series of guided reflections about what racism is, how they have internalized and embodied it, and how they can begin to reconstruct their identities and their relationship to white supremacy. This is not a primer on racism and it is not for the feint of heart. If you’re going to read this book without doing the exercises, you’ll miss the point. I wouldn’t recommend this as the starting point for white people to learn about racism, but it is a great starting point for white people who are ready to do the work of deconstructing their internalized racism. And it is quite specifically for white people. If you are a person of color, it will have some helpful information and be a great resource to share with white antiracist allies, but you will not be its primary audience.
Profile Image for Maxwell.
1,135 reviews8,144 followers
June 16, 2020
I wasn't expecting this to be more of a workbook (each chapter ends with anywhere from 3-9 questions to reflect on and journal about), but I really enjoyed that aspect! It allowed me to engage with the text, rather than just passively read it and feel I'd accomplished something by the time I turned the last page. But the work doesn't end with finishing this book, and I'm looking forward to discussing and working through this book again in July with a group of people. And while it's still worthwhile and important work to do on your own—in fact, I think you have to start with yourself in working toward antiracism—I think this book will facilitate great conversations. Would highly recommend this one!
Profile Image for Mark Robison.
1,015 reviews73 followers
May 17, 2020
This book just doesn't do what it sets out to do, to me anyway. It's a 28-day workbook aimed at helping white people understand their role in white supremacy. If I were to parse each sentence, I’d probably be down with 99% of them — but I literally know of no one who this book would help to be less racist. For people not in a frame of mind to learn, it's too easy to make fun of. For people who are open to it, it is confrontational but without the context to absorb and utilize the strong language.

One thing I really liked in the book were the great quotes used throughout. Many I’d heard, but some were new to me, such as this one from Toni Morrison during an interview with Charlie Rose in response to questions about when is she going to write about white people: “I have had reviews in the past that have accused me of not writing about white people…as though our lives have no meaning and no depth without the white gaze. And I’ve spent my entire writing life trying to make sure that the white gaze was not the dominant one in any of my books.”

Now for what I didn't like. This feels like an earnest "awareness" lecture forced on high school students or corporate worker bees. The concept might be desperately needed but it's handled with so few real-world examples and uses no approaches studied for effectiveness that it's, well, something that I would've mercilessly mocked as a young man — such as when it talks about "challenging feelings around your internalized oppression against yourself" — and it actually probably would've brought out more racist behavior in me.

Then there's the constant use of BIPOC. This is a relatively new acronym that stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Grammatically, this construction implies that Black and Indigenous People are not People of Color. But, for me anyway, it serves to objectify people of color and other-ize them from white people. It is used 296 times in the book. Example: "I do this work because I have a voice, and it is my responsibility to use my voice to dismantle a system that has hurt me and that hurts BIPOC every day."

But the main reason the book fails for me is that it tells rather than shows throughout. Part of this is required by the fact that it's a workbook — where you're given a little background about a racial topic then asked a few questions that you’re supposed to write down your answers to in a journal — but real-world examples are the kind of thing that help people see how their own actions are problematic. There are just a handful, and even brief ones more consistently used would help. It's like the author wrote the book off the top of her head rather than doing any research. Instead, readers are expected to answer questions like this one without any true context to help them fully get what the author is trying to pull out of them: How have you reacted in the presence of Black women who are unapologetic in their confidence, self-expression, boundaries, and refusal to submit to the white gaze?

There are a lot of wonderful books out there that reveal the white supremacy underlying society and the often unconscious biases of white people, especially the biases of so-called progressive white people.

I especially recommend White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, who writes the introduction to this book.

Also excellent is Jennifer Eberhardt's recent Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. And, of course, Michelle Alexander's stone classic The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.

Two other books on this topic that personally spoke to me are John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me and Tim Wise's White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,460 reviews8,564 followers
January 10, 2022
Excellent primer on white supremacy and what folks, especially white folks, can do to fight it. About halfway through reading this book I thought to myself, hm, hopefully most people already know and practice this content?, then I remembered the white woman and the gay white man, both self-identified liberals/progressives, who tone policed me and tried to gaslight me when I called them out/in on their racial microaggressions. Anyway, I think Layla Saad writes with great intelligence and eloquence about topics such as white fragility, white exceptionalism, and white silence, as well as anti-Blackness and how people can hold themselves accountable to engaging in anti-white supremacist action. She includes interesting prompts for self-reflection and tangible action steps throughout the book. Would definitely recommend for folks who aren’t as familiar with antiracism topics or folks who want a refresher.

As a bit of an aside, a topic I hope gets explored more in future books in this area includes the way that people of color can perpetuate racism and discrimination against our own. Not just between different groups like anti-Blackness in the Asian community (which is definitely prevalent), but also how people of color who are “successful” in predominantly white spaces can turn against younger outspoken people of color. When I read about white fragility and also how white people can get defensive when called out/in, I definitely thought of instances I’ve observed when people of color have perpetuated those same dynamics of fragility and defensiveness against members of their own group. Just an extension of the content in this book that I will aim to hold myself accountable for and hope that others will too.
Profile Image for Gary.
941 reviews205 followers
August 17, 2020
Are we meant to be believe a homeless White single mum and her child are more privileged than a multi-milionaire Oxford educated Pakistani Oxbridge graduate.
Do you know left feminist 'diversity and equality'' enforcers in the UK have harassed and attacked White teen girls who have been trafficked, gang raped and tortured by muslim men that they are racist for speaking about their experiences. And even one middle class leftwing feminist tweeted ''they might have been raped but at least they have their White privilege;

I studied colonialism day in and day out at university. but what about disussing the horros of the industrial revolution suffered by the British proletariat, thsi is what no one wants us to discuss. neither the post modern left because it destroys the myth of white privilege in Britain or the free market libertarians because it shows the what wad fone by the industrialists as cruel as anything done in any communist state. so I want this to be along running discussion on my page. i want this to be are recurring them here. I can't understand why Britain's white working classes should be made to suffer for the post-colonial guilt of the upper classes. When what they went through during the Industrial Revolution was WORSE than what slaves in the colonies went through..
The fact is that the Industrial Revolution was a terrible thing and the treatment by the aristocracy and middle classes in Britain in the 19th century was in some ways worse than slavery in the colonies.
As Engels points out on this volume at least the masters for reasons of self-interest made sure the slaves were fed, whereas the British working class at this time were often deliberately starved to death.

The British proletariat at the time were kept in densely packed filthy conditions in very small dwellings, scantily furnished in which entire families were forced onto straw serving for beds in the most revolting conditions, filled with vermin, were subject to starvation, death and suffering from overwork and disease and severe malnourishment
The majority of children of this class did not live beyond five years of age.

Factory workers often worked 18 hours a day and the conditions were. women had to work dangerous as well as filthy, often workers dying from being caught by machines or from inhaling toxic substances which they were forced to work with

The hours in the factory where limited only by the physical strength of the workers. As long as a woman could sit before her loom, without fainting from fatigue, she was supposed to work. Children of five and six were taken to the cotton mills, to save them from the dangers of the street, and a life of idleness. A law had been passed which forced the children of paupers to go to work or be punished by being chained to their machines. In return for their services they got enough bad food to keep them alive and a sort of pigsty on which they could rest at night. Often they were so tired that they fell asleep at their job. To keep them awake a foreman with a whip made the rounds and beat them on the knuckles when it was necessary to bring them back to their duties. Of course under these circumstances thousands of little children died.

The workhouses were designed to be particular places of cruelty ensured to make sure people would find other ways to survive other than going to these places to survive.
People here were worked to death, existed on a bare subsistence on nourishing food and children as young as four and five punished by sleeping in mortuaries on top of coffins for bed wetting or not working sufficiently hard. pregnant women had to work until they gave birth and young girls were called into the bosses office where he demmended sex with them

privilege is a matter of money and class, not race!
Also this whole though correction thing smacks of Mao's Cultural Revolution.
Profile Image for Jessica.
350 reviews203 followers
March 3, 2020
“You will be called out/in as you do antiracism work. Making mistakes is how you learn and do better going forward. Being called out/in is not a deterrent to the work. It is part of the work.”

This is an engaging and thought provoking book. The short chapters are followed by reflection prompts / questions that are designed to be answered over the course of 28 days.

I listened to the audiobook, and thought the narration was great! Thanks libro.fm for the complimentary audiobook!

This is a great companion or follow-on read to White Fragility or other antiracism books. This book had one of the best explanations to white feminism I’ve read. Would highly recommend to my white friends.
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books550 followers
September 23, 2020
As a whole, Me and the White Supremacy is a thought provoking book, and the questions it presents worthy of contemplation. I did have some issues with it for similar reasons I had problems with White Fragility, though Layla Saad writes from the perspective of a Woman of Color, and is thus entitled to make observations and assertions I felt Robin DiAngelo was not. There were chapters I found really interesting and topics she raised with led to important conversations and reflection. However, other chapters made me feel concerned that Saad's approach of painting all white people as inherently racist supporters of the white supremacy and all POC as inherent victims may, on certain levels, be counter-productive and prevent the open dialogue and changes, both in mindset and in impactful legislature, that are truly needed for a more equitable society.
Of course, white supremacy was not created by one person, nor will it be dismantled by one. That is the way with systems of tyranny. There may be figureheads, but the success of their dogma depends on the support or even the apathy of the population. My hope is that the momentum surrounding this movement will not only maintain but grow, and that lawmakers realize that change is demanded and that this demand will persist until it is met. They need to understand that denying this will cost them their place in power, and the way we can show them this is so is by voting (Please, please register and request that absentee ballot!). I feel if the BIPOC communities of this country have held on to the hope that change will come, I have no right to despair myself.
All in all, this book is worth reading as a sort of primer to other books such as Chokehold by Paul Butler or The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, which discuss the systemic and legalized ways racism is perpetuated and tolerated in society, and which I found more impactful.

Find my book reviews and more at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Justin.
604 reviews9 followers
July 2, 2020
For a book that so strongly and repeatedly rails against gaslighting, Me and White Supremacy sure does a lot of it. You may not think you do anything to harm and degrade people of color (POC), but you do. You may not think you consider yourself better than POC, but you do. It doesn't matter if every interaction you can think of that you've had with a POC has been positive, friendly, respectful, or (gasp!) treating them like you'd treat anybody else, you still harbor deep-seated prejudices about POC being lazy, ignorant, violent, etc. Even if you don't think you do. Saad knows the inside of your head better than you do. Textbook gaslighting presented entirely unironically.

That's bad enough, but this approach is coupled with what's essentailly a white people-version of original sin. Simply by existing as a white person, you're contributing to white supremacy, unless you're actively striving in every free moment to balance out the scales--but don't try too hard, because then you'll be a "white savior". And even then, it might not be enough. It doesn't matter if you don't realize you're benefiting from white supremacy, the fact that you are is contributing to it. It doesn't matter if you support businesses run by POC, and march in protests, and donate to equal rights causes, because you haven't addressed the intrinsic, inescapable racism and bias you carry within you, making you still part of the problem. How, exactly are you hurting the people you're trying to help if you're going to such lengths? Saad never really offers any insight into this, instead putting the onus on you to figure out what more you could do, or what you're doing "wrong." How do you go about atoning for the ingrained racism and privilege you probably don't even realize you have inside you? Self-flagellation without the whip, apparently. There's more guilt here than at a Catholic Mass, and the blanket statement that it applies to all white people is frankly absurd.

There's also the plain fact that much of this just doesn't apply to me. And I know that sounds conceited (or to use Saad's term, like I'm a "white exceptionalist"), but allow me to explain. I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan--an area that is overwhelmingly white. A lot of this book asks you to focus on your interactions with POC, but there are frequently days if not weeks that go by (especially during the pandemic), where I just...don't have that opportunity. The handful of times I do encounter POC, I don't shy away, or cross the street, or worry about my safety--though Saad would tell me otherwise, and it must be nice to pretend to know what an entire group of people is thinking. But she's wrong. I'm happy whenever this one older black guy comes into my place of work, because (as long as there isn't a line), we'll chat about comic books and sci-fi movies. One of my wife's friends is a black woman who enjoys Medieval reenactments and D&D. They're awesome people, and I don't try to frame the interactions I have with them around worrying about their ancestry; I just enjoy sharing conversations with like minds. Saad would have you believe this is terrible, because I'm oppressing them and disregarding their culture, by treating them like I'd treat anyone else. I'm hard-pressed to see things that way. When you're having a friendly argument about who would win in a fight: Superman or Goku, the skin color of the person you're talking to is the last thing that matters.

Still, 99% of the interactions I have these days are with white people; I acknowledge that. Perhaps someone in a more metropolitan environment might find questions like "What have you learned about the dehumanizing ways you think about and treat POC and why?" to be more insightful. I didn't.

And you might be thinking that I've spent my life isolated from multicultural experiences, so I don't have any appreciation for anything but my own bubble--I assure you, I haven't. I grew up in the Metro Detroit area, went to mostly black schools, and if I wanted any friends at all, there was a good chance they'd be black. I spent my formative years seeing just how varied POC are in terms of interests, personalities, musical tastes, etc. Almost as if they're (gasp! again) all individuals. It's yet another reason why I can't take the gaslighting claims of this book seriously.

The overall message of this book is just flawed. Yes, systemic racism is still unfortunately alive and well in the US. Based on news stories of cops killing black people without repercussions that are flooding across social media every day, I'd even say it's getting worse. And it's important to fight back against it, but asserting that all white people are blind and guilty seems like perhaps not the best approach. Support POC-owned businesses and endeavors. Conversely, stop supporting businesses run by open racists and bigots. Speak up when you see injustice. Freaking listen to the voices of people suffering under prejudice, and take what they say to heart. Do what you can, when you can, if someone needs help and support. Just...be decent human beings. It isn't that hard of a concept, and you shouldn't need to invent prejudices you don't feel in order to act upon it. (And if you do harbor blanket-statement biases against groups of people, work to erase them.) But for crying out loud, you shouldn't need to be told that you're fundamentally broken, to work at being a good person. Rant over.
Profile Image for Alen.
14 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2020
Why white people combating racism by giving black people black privilege? I’m Asian and want my yellow privilege lol.
Profile Image for Hannah Evans.
56 reviews24 followers
February 11, 2020
This was a re-read of sorts since I finished Layla’s workbook last summer. She’s right about the value of coming back to it with fresh eyes—just 6 months later, I’ve already found myself ending each chapter with new self-awareness than what I found last time.

I study race academically, which means that segments of this book were things I was so familiar with that it took every impulse not to skim, but it also means that some of the self-reflective prompts were even more urgent and necessary than they would be for non-academic readers. Layla’s in-depth, journaling approach to antiracism is like nothing I’ve seen before, and I think it’s crucial to the development of emotional intelligence on race for all white people.

This is the book I’m going to recommend the next time a white person asks me, “what can I do?” This is an excellent place to start.
Profile Image for Kevin.
13 reviews5 followers
June 12, 2020
This book made me feel empowered, emboldened, and capable of interacting with racism in a way I haven't felt before. One of my biggest weak spots seems to be during family/friend interactions, and Layla's advice gave me tools and language to make me more comfortable responding to various forms of racism in a meaningful way instead of being silently complicit.

It's far from the only book on race out there, but it's a worthy place to begin. It's short, powerful, and worth reading over again. What's covered:

1: You and White Privilege
2: You and White Fragility
3: You and Tone Policing
4: You and White Silence
5: You and White Superiority
6: You and White Exceptionalism
7: Week 1 Review
8: You and Color Blindness
9: You and Anti-Blackness against Black Women
10: You and Anti-Blackness against Black Men
11: You and Anti-Blackness against Black Children
12: You and Racist Stereotypes
13: You and Cultural Appropriation
14: Week 2 Review
15: You and White Apathy
16: You and White Centering
17: You and Tokenism
18: You and White Saviorism
19: You and Optical Allyship
20: You and Being Called Out/Called In
21: Week 3 Review
22: You and White Feminism
23: You and White Leaders
24: You and Your Friends
25: You and Your Family
26: You and Your Values
27: You and Losing Privilege
28: You and Your Commitments
Profile Image for Charlotte  .
460 reviews22 followers
May 26, 2020
I really wanted to like this book and see it as valuable information but I did not.
This author, while making a few good points will probably just piss off people who should read this book. I consider myself not racist and not a bigot at all but this book made me angry. Can we just start where people are and help them grow rather than calling them out?
Granted, we white people don't know how some of our actions are seen but wow! I don't think we will learn to be better from this book.
Profile Image for Cathy.
256 reviews2 followers
May 2, 2021
With all the civil unrest going on, I really wanted to gain a new perspective about racism in current times. I thought reading this book and others (White Fragility-also reviewed on Goodreads) would help me understand. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Me and White Supremacy is written from the Critical Theory worldview which views reality through the lens of power, dividing people into oppressed groups and oppressor groups. She states, “this book is to help people with white privilege understand and take ownership of their participation in the oppressive system of white supremacy.” She assumes I participate and am complicit in oppression simply because I am white. She writes, “When answering prompts, do not generalize about white people broadly.” She generalizes about white people, painting with a broad brush throughout the book. Her definition of racism and white supremacy includes colonization, oppression, discrimination, neglect, and marginalization at the systemic level and not just the individual level.
I read the entire book, including the glossary at the end. I took notes (because I checked it out of the library). Because the text is written from the Critical Race Theory (CRT) lens, it introduces and redefines many commonly used words today. It is important to understand what is the meaning behind the words used, so one can compare them to one’s own world view. If I can say anything positive about this book, it is that I had to do a lot of research in order to understand what it was talking about. It is steeped in identity politics and heaps guilt on white people because they are white. The book offers no path of forgiveness or reconciliation, and white people are always guilty of being racist. If you reject individualism and meritocracy, then this book is for you.
Profile Image for Corvus.
568 reviews151 followers
June 11, 2020
"Welcome to the work."

Layla F. Saad's "Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor" is truly a gift to the world and especially to white people. This is someone directly affected by racism, misogynoir, and other oppressions (though she admits privileges of living outside the USA among others,) taking your hand, caring about your feelings, and also giving you an honest, no-nonsense education about how to combat white supremacy. I grabbed the audiobook version of this on a whim because it was available and was a racial justice book for white (and white passing) people that I had not read. I did not realize it was in workbook format, and am not on instagram, so I did not know it was previously and insta challenge. I was listening to it while doing other things with my hands that prevented me from writing down answers to all of the questions. This led me to quickly answering them in my head which is not good enough, so I will be returning to the print version of this book.

I should mention some things about my history with being a white person doing my best to fight racism. I am not looking for cookies here, you'll see eventually where I am going with this. So, like many white people, I have done a slew of racist things throughout my life that I am still embarrassed about (even though I know that all that guilt does is take up even more space with white neediness, so I am working on this.) I have made many mistakes while actively fighting racism and will undoubtedly continue to make mistakes (the book is very good at discussing this.) When I got serious about fighting white supremacy, I read a ton of books (and still do,) I started organizing and going to events, protests, and workshops and having real conversations with people close and not so close to me. I eventually co-founded an anti-white supremacy group that focused on helping white people with the lifelong journey of dismantling white supremacy within themselves that included study groups, conversation practices, organizing of events, and so on. I eventually became less involved in person due to my health and did a lot of secretarial stuff online for a while. Eventually stepped back completely due mostly to disability and stressful life stuff that I felt made it too difficult for me to participate well. I continued doing the regular upkeep within and outside myself on my own. All of this is to say that I would not call myself a beginner. And here's the point: Even though this book is focused on being accessible to beginners, I got a TON out of it. I think any white person at any phase of fighting white supremacy would get a lot out of this book, so please don't walk past it just because you've been around.

Saad encourages the reader/listener to come to the book with as fresh eyes/ears as possible. She encourages us to experience each chapter and concept as if we are for the first time. This was good advice that I did my best to follow. Something that I think Saad does especially well is realizing that, well, we white folks tend to be pretty fragile by default. When you grow up in a white supremacist system, you don't have to think about race and racism every second of every day like many BBIPOC (Black, Brown, Indigenous, and (other) People of Color) do. This results in us not having as much practice managing those emotions. We hear racism and white supremacy and unless we are full blown Nazis, we think of it as an egregious personal insult that we must defend against. Rather than telling us we're awful trash or coddling us like babies, Saad prepares us for the feelings and tells us why they are common, painful, and necessary.

"Here's to doing what is right, not what is easy."
“Antiracism work that does not break the heart open cannot move people toward meaningful change.”

I felt she was quite gentle and kind about this, but, no matter what, there will be white people who aren't ready for this workbook. Some of the reviews exemplify just that (in which angry white people act out every chapter of the book within their hyperbolic 1-star reviews while not even realizing it.) I was there in the past, especially in my youth. (By the way, young people who are already fighting racism and white supremacy, thank you for getting it so much sooner than I did and making the world such a better place.)

As I said, I got a lot out of this despite my past experience. I have read pretty much every book that she quotes in this. All of them are also books I would recommend. As a non-newbie, the sections that I got the most from were probably those on cultural appropriation and white apathy. (She even directly mentions that white folks who think they don't have to write down their answers or do the work are practicing a form of this.) Called in. This is when I made the promise to return to this book later. I also think that for others, this book is set up really well as both a beginners course and a continuing education course. I imagine that I could come back to it in 10 years. While some of our language for things will likely have evolved, the prompts and questions will still be valid.

Saad also mentions that this book is for white passing people of color, but stresses that their experiences will be very different than that of white people. At times she addresses them separately from white people in order to stress this. I can't say if she does this perfectly being that I'm white, but she did seem to put a lot of care and thought into addressing them as a separate group.

This book is quite short, but nonetheless, Saad manages to introduce a huge amount of information. She stresses that each person can tackle this at their own pace- day by day and week by week like she has it set up, or faster and slower. I listened to it all quickly which is another reason to return. Were there a couple things I don't totally agree with? Sure. Very small ones that are gripes over the evolution of word meanings. For instance, the original meaning of gaslighting was used to describe an intentional form of lying and scheming in order to disorient one's victim (often of intimate partner or family abuse) in order to harm and control them. Saad uses it basically to describe any disagreement white people express about people of colors' experiences. Many social justice people have grabbed onto the term and used it in a variety of ways outside the original abuse definition. I think this evolution of the term can water it down. It continues to be spread further and further as I have also seen radicals use "gaslighting" as a description for anyone who disagrees with them at all, even while sharing their own experience of oppression. As a result, I think when abuse victims try to discuss how gaslighting feels in its original definition, people don't understand what we mean. But, words evolve and there is a very real phenomenon of silencing of BBIPOC both intentional and strategic as well as unintentional and ignorant. Both can have the same horrific detrimental effects, so maybe I need to accept these new definitions.

The other thing I disagree with is that there is the suggestion that white people are giving up everything by giving up white privilege. I disagree that we only have something to lose. White privilege, entitlement, and other forms of supremacy actually rob us of real and authentic experiences and relationships with our BBIPOC friends, lovers, acquaintances, coworkers, etc. It's also a lot of work to run away from accusations of white supremacy the way many white people do. In my opinion, while the lifelong work of fighting white supremacy is very hard work, it can also provide quite a lot of relief. Saying, "I'm sorry I did harm, thank you for telling me, here is what I heard, here is what I will do better, I am open to anything else you have to say and am also ok if you don't want to say anything else," is actually not as hard as people think once you overcome the fear. It is a hell of a lot easier than writing facebook novellas about your black friend who said you're cool and how you voted for Obama and how you're a good person because you went to a protest at your library or whatever.

These disagreements are of really small parts of the book- a few sentences. I am really only mentioning these disagreements to combat some of the aforementioned white people 1-star reviews claiming that people are afraid to disagree because they'll be called racist. No, social justice people disagree all of the time. We spend hours, days, months, years disagreeing. It's gonna be ok, I promise. Give the workbook another shot, will you?

Anyway, white folks, please read this, reread this, and if you are able (and if not, can have someone help you,) please do the workbook part, too. Even better, organize a white people study group where you can go through the book together and support each other. There are other formats for groups you could organize before and after this as well. Make sure you listen to BBIPOC, realizing they are not a monolith and will have many different- sometimes conflicting- things you will need to navigate the best you can. But also, don't lean on them for venting and processing your racist issues unless they explicitly ask you to and give their permission. And, for real, try really hard to hear the words "racism" and "white supremacy" as prompts to learn and do better rather than as terms to run from as perceived insults.

As I was writing this, I had the privilege of seeing this, in which Kimberly Jones gives us 500 years of history in 7 minutes. So, go watch that in the meantime.

This was also posted to my blog.
Profile Image for MissBecka Gee.
1,492 reviews596 followers
November 27, 2020
After nearly 6 months on the wait list for my library...
I didn't get what I hoped for out of this book.
Decent book for self reflection on your journey to being a better human, but not as powerful as other work I've read.
I feel like this needed more of her in the book to bring it home.
She grew up in Qatar and lives in the UK so I was hoping for more of that perspective/challenges.
Maybe some of the changes she was able to help bring about in her towns/friendships over the years.
I was expecting something else, so maybe this will work better for you?

"You are part of the problem and simultaneously part of the solution."
Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,211 followers
February 7, 2020
I didn't expect this to be a workbook, so honestly, audio isn't the way to go if you're going to do the work day by day unless you only listen to the audiobook on those days. That said, I didn't follow through the 28-day plan with the book but will certainly be revisiting the topics here and digging into them.

The strength of this, I think, was how it ties together all of the pieces so many other anti-racism and race-themed nonfiction books that have released in the last few years together in a way that is directed exactly at and for white people.
1 review
June 26, 2020
My wife and I have been working our way through this one together. Full disclosure: we've not finished it yet. It's been a good conversation starter for the two of us in a lot of ways. It's been especially good for getting us thinking about the ways in which we've utterly failed to live up to the values that we claim to hold while enjoying a considerable level of white, middle-class comfort.

At times, though, I find myself a little frustrated with this book. Saad's family traveled extensively for her father's work when she was growing up, and as such, she's lived in a lot of places around the world. I think that because of that, this book is written in such a way that assumes the reader has experienced much more cultural diversity than people living in large swaths of the United States have likely experienced. The discussion questions at the end of each chapter ask the reader to reflect on personal experiences in which they've tone-policed people of color, how they've treated darker-skinned people of color differently from lighter-skinned people of color, or how they have reacted differently to Black immigrants than to Black citizens. If you-- like my wife and me-- have spent most of your life living in a geographic region that is overwhelmingly white (in our case, the Appalachian foothills), you may find yourself struggling to come up with answers to questions like these. Saad implies-- and sometimes directly states-- that if you deny that you've participated in any of the behavior that she discusses in her book, then you're likely not digging deep enough and you're not "doing the work." I will freely admit to having said and done racist things in my lifetime, and to living a lifestyle that makes me an accessory and contributor to systemic racism. But I have not done *everything* that the text suggests that white people do as a rule, not necessarily because I'm a swell person, but because my life experience hasn't placed me in some of the situations the text takes for granted. If you're a white person who grew up in a rural area in an inland part of the country where the overwhelming majority of the population was also white, then you may also find that you don't have some of the experiences that Saad claims you do.

Aside from that, the book has some issues in terms of its format. In each chapter, the author addresses a different concept such as anti-blackness, cultural appropriation, white fragility, tone policing, anti-blackness against black children, etc. While I enjoy Saad's voice and concise presentation of the material, I find that the chapters can be a little thin in terms of theory, empirical data, and concrete examples. Since this isn't intended as an academic study, the lack of theory and data aren't major flaws, but the lack of concrete examples illustrating the text's arguments can be frustrating. This is especially true given that each chapter concludes with a handful of journal prompts that the reader is meant to respond to. While it is fair to say that it's up to the reader to "do the work" of self-reflection, it's a bit hard to do that reflection if you're not entirely clear whether what you're writing is in line with what's being asked, or whether you're thinking about the question in the right way. If you were reading this book in a small group with a dedicated facilitator, that might fix this issue.

The questions themselves also tend to follow a pretty predictable sequence. Each chapter features somewhere between four and eight questions. Generally, after you've learned about a topic, the questions follow a progression that's something like: How have you lived out this concept in your own life; What preconceived notions do you have about this concept; When have you failed to speak up when someone else has exhibited this concept; How have you benefitted from this concept; How has this concept harmed people of color in your life? There's nothing wrong with these questions, per se. In fact, they're very valuable questions. From a pedagogical perspective, though, it would be nice to see some more variety in the types of prompts featured in the book; as they're written, they can start to feel a bit repetitive, and-- as written above-- you may find yourself at a loss for a response if your life experience differs from what the text is suggesting.

All-in-all, reading this book has been a valuable experience. It has given me a structured way to think about my own role in systemic racism, and to conceptualize ways in which I can live a life more fully-dedicated to racial justice and true equality. Despite the qualms I've mentioned here, I wouldn't dissuade anyone from reading this book. I am far from well-informed on issues of race, but in my estimation, this text is a good springboard for thoughtful white individuals who want to think critically about how they have participated in and propped up white supremacy, and who earnestly want to begin doing their part in the work of racial reconciliation.

Profile Image for Hope.
715 reviews29 followers
February 12, 2020
I think this is a really great resource for White folks who really are open to getting down and dirty with the work of unpacking their whiteness. That being said, if you are new to antiracism concepts and in the early stages of recognizing there may be gaps in your knowledge, I think I would hold off on this until learning a bit more. The book is broken into 28 days of topics and each day gives some background info on that topic of the day and then follows with journal prompt questions but it's an overview and not the complete historical context, which I think is important for people early into this self work. I'd recommend a few more books (Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, The New Jim Crow, Lies My Teacher Told Me, White Fragility), a few podcasts (Seeing White, Teaching Hard History), just to name a few resources. I think then you'd be in a place to fully open to doing the work required/needed with this particular book.
106 reviews1 follower
August 12, 2020
This book has some good points. As a caucasian there are many things I've never had to worry or even think about in terms of racism. This helped me to understand what I take for granted and appreciate what others face more. Overall though the book is pushy and the author acts as if her program is the only way to overcome racism. It backs everyone into a corner though. If they try, they're doing it wrong. If they don't try, they're doing it wrong. We can't act as if racism doesn't exist, or talk too much about how it does exist. The real answer to me is to see everyone in every race as individuals and not try to adhere to someone's program of doing things. I didn't feel inspired as I read the book and finished her program, just frustrated.
Profile Image for Katie.
870 reviews14 followers
February 9, 2020
As a white lady trying to hold up a mirror to my own privilege, these exercises were incredibly eye opening. I recommend this book to everyone who asks me how and where to start.
Profile Image for Kate  Sullivan.
4 reviews1 follower
July 7, 2021
This whole genre of critical theory (race, gender, fat studies etc) Have yet to produce even ONE readable book. Unless you're forced to read Kendi's, DiAngelo, this Layla Said, etc, for God's sake save yourself the time. Here are the points in every one of these books.
1) All white people are racist (lately the term white supremacist has been thrown in there to cause extra guilt and shame.)
2) There is no such thing as not racist. You're either racist or anti racist, the definition of which boils down to if the priests of this terrible new religion decide you're anti racist.
3) It isn't possible to have a positive white identity. All one can do is strive to be less white and break with white solidarity, whatever that is.
4) The definition of ally now means you must listen and follow orders from black leadership.
5) If you are caught or announce that you are concerned about forced segregated meetings in the office, startled at the material trotted out that things such as working hard and being on time,along with other necessary traits to survive adult life, those values are "white". Never mind the massive insult you're throwing at people who aren't white.
6) Any disparities in any area of American life are SOLELY caused by racism.
7) Equity is the goal of this movement, practitioners use this word to trick you into thinking equality, equality of opportunity which we all want. Equity seeks equality of OUTCOME. To see why this would be a dystopia if implemented try the short read Harrison Bergeron. The only way to achieve equality of outcome is hobbling EVERYONE.

There, I saved you several hours of tedious and flatly idiotic B.S. dressed in academic speak so that you will be to embarrassed to ask "WTF".
Profile Image for Amy | Foxy Blogs.
1,411 reviews971 followers
June 22, 2020
Me and White Supremacy was originally a 28-day Instagram challenge. At the beginning of 2020, Ms. Saad turned the Instagram challenge into a book as a way to reach a wider audience.

Each section takes you through some tough hitting questions and also a time of reflection. The reader is challenged to figure out what to do with their newly gained knowledge.

Ms. Saad also has a podcast, "Good Ancestor," where the listener can hear conversations on what it means to be a good ancestor. "How to show up in BIPOC-only spaces without white centering."

Ms. Saad is not just an author but she's also an educator with her podcast and on her website she offers classes.

Overall this book was good for spending each day thinking/journaling on different cultural issues in our society. The 28-day journey has the reader reach inside themselves and think about the impact they are having with their spoken and unspoken words.
Profile Image for Bookaholicgroup.
111 reviews935 followers
April 13, 2021
Ich habe dieses Buch schon häufiger auf englisch gesehen und auch da hat es mich schon sehr interessiert. Als ich jetzt auf deutsch erschienen ist, musste ich es also direkt lesen.
Was an diesem Buch so spanned ist, sind die Arbeitsfragen, die am Ende jedes Themas folgen.
Das Buch liest man also nicht nur, sondern man denkt nach jedem Kapitel über sein eigenes Leben nach und reflektiert, wie und wo Rassismus im Umfeld existiert.

Die Autorin merkt häufig an, dass es ein unbequemes Buch ist, das man häufig Unbehagen fühlen wird - und das stimmt. Beim Lesen und beim Nachdenken über die Fragen ist mir klar geworden, wie viele Aspekte von Rassismus man noch gar nicht so gesehen hat oder sich nie groß Gedanken darum gemacht hat.

Um hier ein Beispiel zu geben: Ein Kapitel handelt von kultureller Aneignung. Das bedeutet, dass sich eine dominante Kultur bestimmte Traditionen, Äußerlichkeiten oder Ideale einer anderen Kultur aneignet. Ich wusste bereits, dass es das gibt und um was es sich dabei handelt, aber nochmal genauer und länger darüber nachzudenken, hat mir sehr geholfen, eigenes Verhalten zu reflektieren.

Insgesamt ist "Me and White Supremacy" ein super gutes, informatives Buch, das einen Gesamtüberblick über das Thema Rassismus gibt, Begriffe erklärt und anregt, über eigenes Verhalten nachzudenken.
Wenn jeder Mensch diese Fragen durcharbeiten würde, wären wir mit Sicherheit schon einen großen Schritt weiter.
Große Empfehlung!

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