March 18th 2021
While this is by no means my first foray into grappling with the inescapable dominant paradigm of white supremacy in our culture, this is my first time joining a book club about it. Also my first time cracking an actual book in more years than I care to admit.
This one, “me and white supremacy,” is written by an extraordinary cosmopolitan Muslim black woman with an extremely relatable voice named Layla F. Saad. It is full of prompts to help the reader address our own internalized biases and will involve a lot of journaling. Officially 28 days worth, regardless of how long the reader takes to work through them.
What is white supremacy? “It is an evil. It is a system of oppression that has been diesigned to give you benefits at the expense of the lives of BIPOC and it is living inside you as unconscious thoughts and beliefs,” according to
BIPOC: Black, Indiginous, (and) People of Color.
She says what you will need to do this work requires:
~ your truth
Not other people’s truths or the truth of white privilege in general, but *yours;* the “real, raw, ugly… rotten core of your white internalized supremacy.”
~ your love
“That you do this work because you believe in something greater than your own self-gain.” [p.18]
“You will also need love for this journey becausse when the truth telling gets really hbard, you will need something more powerful than pain and shame to encourage you to keep going.”
~ your committment
Examining and dismantling ones white supremacy “will feel like waking up to a virus that has been living inside you all these years that you never knew was there. And when you begin to interrogate it, it will fight back to protect itself and maintain its position.” [p.19]
You have to decide in advance what is the commitment you have that will anchor you and enable you to keep going when your white fragility inevitably rears its ugly-ass head. And it will.
For me, it is very hard –impossible actually– to deny that I am:
– a white, female, American-born gentile with “socioeconomic, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied, neurotypical and educational privileges,” [p.9] born and raised in a country that was stolen by genocide and built by a race of people we kidnapped, dehumanized, tortured, raped, abused, murdered and used as an absolutely expendable commodity. And -societally- still do to this very day.
I also cannot deny that; although many historical forms of oppression have become illegal, the notion of white superiority still informs the “norms, rules and laws” in our American society.
“The subtle and overt discrimination, marginalization, abuse and killing of BIPOC in white-dominated communities continues even today because white supremacy continues to be the dominant paradigm under which white societies operate.” [p. 14]
Taking from the suggestions the author Layla F. Saad offers, I choose my committment to be anchored in:
– a commitment to anti-oppression
– a commitment to the dignity of BIPOC, and
– a commitment to being a better friend to BIPOC
Hopefully my commitments are strong enough to keep me moving through the work.