I’ve always been committed to keep my blog away from the troubles of the world so we can focus on optimism and our spirituality, but I think you will agree that now is not the time to look away. The awakening and evolution of our conscience also come out of sensitive topics and push us out to step back and question ourselves.
Revolution is in the air and it is everyone’s responsibility to use any platform we have access to to take action and question a society based on the idea of a “white supremacy”.
Today, I would like to use my blog to talk to you about a very sensitive topic that is being discussed extensively in the US (where I live) and help our mindset evolve on racism: question ourselves on on White Privileges or privileges which white people can access, even without noticing it while persons of colors (BIPOC: Black and Indigenous People of Color) have to work 100 times more to get the same advantages.
This week has been so rich in emotions, learning and shame. And I have to admit that I have reviewed about 60 times what I just wrote to make sure I do my best trying to share the authors ideas which have completely shaken up my perception of racism.
We have a major global teamwork to do to cure this social cancer and it starts with observing, listening and self educating. 📓 ✊🏾 💗
On a recent call where we were saddened about what was going on, my friends suggested that I read “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad:
“This book is difficult to read because it will throw at you the harsh reality of black people in Western countries. All white people should read it, it’s necessary.”
Some of you might be asking themselves what they can actually do, at their own level to improve this critical situation (In the US or France: the struggle is valid in both countries), the answer is fairly simple: Educate yourself. Read, listen, speak, watch, learn and realize the impact of inaction and silence on the perpetuity of this profoundly racist society.
I would like to share the things I have learned this week thanks to the amazing work of Layla F. Saad who suggests some smart and sometimes simple things to help the Black community to be more visible, heard, respected and protected.
About the author, Layla F. Saad
Layla F. Saad is an author , Speaker and activist committed to change the perception of persons of color in the Western societies. Born in England, Layla is a Black and Muslim woman who lived most of her life across multiple cultures. She is now living in Qatar with her husband and her children.
She is on a mission to be a “good ancestor” and stop racism from being transmitted to the next generation. To do so, she questions White people on their privileges by demonstrating to them that , without knowing it, they maintain a system where the idea of a “superior race” is still very present.
I can already picture some of you feeling offended by this statement:
“What? Not me! I’m NOT a racist!”
Sure. The main idea of this book is that Unity will not come only from this basic idea of “Not racists” = “Good persons” and “Racists” = “Bad persons”. It’s actually the opposite ! This binary position tends to unfortunately close all debates that are supposed to question origins of racism…
The author explains with great kindness and calm that hashtags and black squares images on Instagram are appreciated but they will not stop the underlying racism. It’s an everyday battle, a will, a work of compassion and honesty that will change things. To stop the hatred and inequalities, we need to start by a honest and censorless analysis on how White people think.
During the summer of 2018, Layla deciding to launch a 28 days challenge on Instagram (#MeAndWhiteSupremacy), pushing her followers who had White privileges to question them and reflect on their unconscious complicity to keep ordinary racism going.
The author warns us straight off the bat: This is not a self-improvement book. Its content is not aimed to make us feel good about ourselves and give away medals to those who claim to be non racists and “have a Black neighbor with whom they get along well!” lol
Her book aims to open our eyes on the reality of Black people in the Western countries and to have White people question themselves on their privileges and their unconscious way of thinking.
For 4 weeks, Layla F. Saad invites us to explore “our” behaviors towards Black people without any censorship. Every day, a theme is discussed (privileges, awkwardness, cultural appropriation, silence …) and broken down into 3 parts: What is it ?/When does it occur?/How to spot it to destroy it?
I better warn you though, it’s harsh! Some passages will make you feel ashamed or helpless. But it’s not about dwelling on our emotions but about thinking on how to change things: analyzing our mental thought process and rebuilding it in a more sound and fair way.
14 essentials I learned from the book “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad
Obviously, the book is richer and more powerful, Layla F. Saad added her personal experience and some statistics.
What this book taught me
A big fat slap in the face !
I realized that by my lack of education on racism and by avoiding uncomfortable feelings, I had refused all responsibility for a system that is deeply unfair.
Everytime I remained silent in front of a racist act, every time I let a colleague tell a racist joke without intervening, I let the idea exist that racism was a bigger fight than me and that I couldn’t do anything about it.
The fact that I had to wait for these demonstrations around the world to educate myself and talk to you about this Black author only shows that we have a long way to go. I feel very sorry for it.
Layla F. Saad’s book, beyond answering the uncomfortable questions (“what is cultural appropriation?” “How are the White people volunteering in Africa perceived?”), it is a necessary and urgent tool box to adjust our attitude and mindset.
I learned a tons of things, like the concepts of “White savior” (as shown in the infographic), “White tears” (the fact that a White person will break down to tears after being called a racist to avoid an uncomfortable conversation and think about his/her actions) or “tokenism” (the fact to “use” a BIPOC person – post a selfie with a Black person that we barely know to show that we are not racist – adopt a Black kid to perpetuate the myth of the “White Savior” – use some cultural codes of the Black community to look “cool” without understanding what they mean) and I have to admit that I’m pretty shocked to see how accurate this is!
If you are doing the #meandwhitesupremacy challenge in all honesty, you might feel ashamed or angry. You will probably feel the urgent need to call a Black friend/neighbor/colleague to off load these new emotions and find some comfort…
Spoiler alert: It is not their job to comfort “us” right now. They have enough to deal with in their mourning community.
The African American community is going through an emotional tidal wave. Hit harder than any other community by the coronavirus (in the US for instance, they are hit 2.2 times more than White people), by the economic crisis that follows and now here they are trying to lead a revolution of Western consciousness by protesting in the street while mourning.
It’s not their job to educate “us” now. There is tons of material on this topic (for ages).Let’s get out of our comfort zone and take time to read/listen about the feedback they have to give us. It’s the first sign of respect and action we can do to concretely show them our support in this fight against injustice.
For more on this…
Here are a few educational materials my friends!
Teaching tolerance Interviews with Robin DiAngelo
A discussion on “White fragility”. When Robin DiAngelo (American anti racist activist and sociologist) talks about “White fragility”, she means that communication and change will remain complicated as long as White people will be offended and defensive when the word “race” is discussed in a debate.
Deconstructing White Privilege with Dr. Robin DiAngelo
A talk by Robin DiAngelo about the binary system (« racist / non-racist ») that provides us to get feedback about our attitude regarding BIPOC :
« Triggered and Tired »
RESOURCES to DO THE WORK
Dr. Akilah Cadet made a list of great ressources to educate ourselves about white privileges :
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man
Emmanuel Acho sits down to have an “uncomfortable conversation” with white America, in order to educate and inform on racism, system racism, social injustice, rioting & the hurt African Americans are feeling today.
Africa For Norway (parody)
« The truth is that there are many positive developments in African countries, and we want these to become known. We need to change the simplistic explanations of problems in Africa. We need to educate ourselves on the complex issues and get more focus on how western countries have a negative impact on Africa’s development. If we want to address the problems the world is facing we need to do it based on knowledge and respect. »
Thank you dear readers for reading this article until the end even though it might have been easy to read this. To me, sharing this analysis and Layla F. Saad’s ideas seemed to be urgent and needed.
I have learned so much thanks to this book ! And even if I started this book feeling completely discouraged by the size of this issue, I now feel energized and optimistic with all the solutions and engagements that the author suggests to take action against racism right now!
I hope you liked the infographic and that it will encourage you to go deeper on this sensitive topic on your own
Keep this summary on Pinterest !
You can pin the image below to keep it in a Pinterest board :
The website of the author, Layla F. Saad
The website about her book : meandwhitesupremacy.com
Now This News
Interview of Layla F. Saad on Audible UK
#BlackLivesMatter: How to Support Black-Owned Small Businesses : Finimpact list
The website Black Lives Matter
Talk about her book « Me and white supremacy » at the Strand Book Store
Elle – « Layla Saad Started An Instagram Challenge To Dismantle White Supremacy. Now It’s A Best-Selling Book. »
Challenge #MeAndWhiteSupremacy sur Instagram
Vidéo Youtube de Kimberly Jones – « The Game » we play
Transcript of the infographics
Layla F. Saad is a British author and activist living in Qatar.
She created a 28 days challenge on Instagram, pushing her followers who had White privileges to question them and reflect on their unconscious complicity to keep ordinary racism going.
- She is on a mission to be a good ancestor and stop racism from being transmitted to the next generation. To do so, she questions White people on their privileges by demonstrating to them that, without knowing it, they maintain a system where the idea of a “superior race” is still very present.
“White Supremacy” is a racist ideology based on the belief that White People would be superior to people of color.
This ideology spreaded within Western societies and this is through this paradigm that norms, rules and laws were created to the disadvantage of people of color (or BIPOC: Black and Indigenous People of Color)
In our society, to be born White gives you access to certain unearned privileges and protection. This system is so anchored in our collective consciousness that we don’t even realize they exist….
But these norms can only exist to the disadvantage of the non White people.
White people are quickly ill at ease when racial or privilege questions are brought up. Their reflex is to step out of the conversation by affirming that they are “not racists” to avoid any awkwardness. Unfortunately, avoiding these conversations only reinforces the status quo. This defensive attitude
is called “White fragility”
To remain silent and passive to racist actions or discriminations is to participate in maintaining this oppressive system. This “White silence” feels like protecting an unequal system at all costs.
Our voice is powerful and needed to support the fight for BIPOC.
- Western beauty standards (pale skin, straight hair…) added to the under representation of BIPOCS in the movies, TV shows and media encourage the kids to think that being white is the norm and is associated with a better social status.
The racist belief that being White is more sophisticated is called “White superiority”.
From our youngest age, we have been taught that Whites were superior because of how History classes picture the White man as a saviour, how the media discusses different cultures and the lack of diversity in role models or politicians.
Thinking they would send a message of unity, some White people like to say that they “don’t differentiate a Black person, Blue or Green..” It’s the “Color blindness”.
This clumsy sentence assumes that the Whites are picturing themselves as the norm. This erases the individuality of each one of us and also denies the existence of systemic discriminations that surely exist in our Western societies.
Cultural appropriation is when a dominant culture takes possession of objects, patterns, symbols, rituals etc… of a culture it has oppressed in the past like colonization, slavery or segregation.
We can see this in fashion, hairdressing or make up that are inspired by Black cultural codes which were mocked and ridiculed by the Whites in the past.
Optical allyship is when a White person takes advantage of the “Black Lives Matter” movement for its own popularity and prove that she/he isn’t racist without really taking a stand or being involved in fighting this inequality.
Post a black square on Instagram with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter without really taking a stand or educating oneself for instance.
White saviorism is the belief of people having White privileges – picturing themselves as superior, more capable and intelligent – feeling obliged to “save” the BIPOC of their supposed inferiority and powerlessness.
Whites use humanitarian missions to Africa to expose themselves as heroes – taking selfies with a few Black kids to serve their ego on social media – and show that these populations cannot act without White intervention.
Very often, the historical background and culture of these countries are not mentioned nor the progress in technology, their influencers, activists, leaders, scientists or engineers comforting the idea that Africa is still underdeveloped.
Each one of us has a role to play in dismantling this oppressive and excluding system. It’s our global responsibility to change mentalities: Speak to your children, your family, your colleagues. Encourage diversity in the media, politics, leadership, workpace, schools…
The author suggests concrete ideas. To help persons of color being more visible and RESPECTED in our society but also change people’s minds, you can:
– Support BIPOC movements by demonstrating with them
– Donate to a charity that fights against racism
– Listen to podcasts, read books that talk about BIPOC fight for equality
– Support and promote authors, leaders, lecturers and activist who fight racism
– Educate yourself to understand where racism is coming from
– Refuse to play a part in a system that encourages the idea of a White supremacy
– Listen to what BIPOC have to tell us without feeling offended!
It’s a lifetime engagement!