It’s nearly the end of June, and this week’s pick is one that has been on the in progress reading list for a few weeks. But that’s because it’s a work book, designed to do a day at a time and I’ve been really trying to do that. Last week was the week I got to the end of the book, but the work isn’t over and will never be over. I’m still thinking about what I learned and unpacking everything that I have discovered about myself.
Me and White Supremacy started as an Instagram challenge. In fact, the two year anniversary of the challenge fell this weekend just past. It became a free workbook and now in its expanded and published form it has become a New York Times bestselling book. If you’ve been seen the best seller lists or the anti-racism reading lists these past few weeks you’ll have seen this one on there. The idea of the book is that over the course of four weeks, readers will look at difference aspects of white supremacy and examine your own behaviours and biases. As a white person, it’s not comfortable, and it’s not easy. And it’s not something that you can dismiss as being an “American problem” – no matter how much you would like to. Layla F Saad is an East African, Arab, British, Black, Muslim woman who was born and grew up in the West, and lives in Middle East and writes from her experiences and perspective. Your reflex response may be not to agree with her, but do think about that and think about why you might be reacting that way, and then sit with it.
Reading one book isn’t a solution what’s going on at the moment, but it’s a good way to start and if you are white, you definitely want to read a book like this before you decide to wade in and try to “fix” things yourself. If you don’t know what I mean by that, then you probably need to read a book like this. You’ll find out why when you read it. Everyone wants to think of themselves as a good person, but you need more than good intentions to achieve that. Self-reflection is always hard, but add racism to the mix and it becomes even harder. So do yourself a favour and read this book (or something else from an antiracist reading list, preferably written by someone who is not white) in a quite corner, google anything you don’t understand, and think about what it’s telling you. And then go and read some more books and listen to some more people. And keep working at it.
Now there’s a lot of people doing this work at the moment, so it’s hard to buy a physical copy of this book – or most of the others on the various reading lists that are circulating. So place an order with your local indie – or with a black owned bookshop – and then be patient while you wait for the next print run to come through. They can’t make publishing work any faster. Alternatively you can buy the ebook in Kindle or Kobo. It’s £4.99 at the moment.