Subtitle: How to Recognize Your Privilege, Combat Your Racism, and Change the World
In this book for people with white privilege who want to take the next step in anti-racism, Layla Saad guides the reader on a brilliantly organized 28 day exploration of internalized white supremacy and how to address it.
The first week explores the basics of how we benefit from white privilege while avoiding acknowledging it, including white privilege, white fragility, tone policing, white silence, white superiority, and white exceptionalism. The second week looks at anti-Blackness and racial stereotypes. The third week explores both true and false allyship. The fourth week is a call to action to speak out about anti-racism with friends, family, and others.
The book is accompanied by several supplemental videos, available online. Layla Saad created them during the original 28 day Instagram challenge, encouraging people doing the challenge to be honest, dig deep, and do the work, rather than retreating to shallow cliches. The videos are well worth watching for her clear explanations of some of the pitfalls for white people beginning anti-racism work.
I appreciated her insight that participation in white supremacy requires numbness to all the suffering it causes. That goes a long way toward explaining the dissociation and lack of empathy I see in the world.
Layla Saad uses language carefully and precisely throughout the book and videos. In particular, she distinguishes between people who are white, and those who are white-passing, and therefore are both the bearers and the targets of white privilege. Being white and Jewish is at an uncomfortable border, where I clearly hold white privilege, and at the same time Jews are a target of white supremacy.
While I started with a basic understanding of white privilege, working through each day’s topic deepened my understanding and clarified my thinking about the subtle ways we learn to reinforce it. I struggled the most with the last few days where we are encouraged to confront friends, family, and others about racism. I am happy to discuss white privilege with like-minded people, and mention that I’m learning more in hopes of sparking someone’s interest. I get stuck when someone flatly disagrees that privilege exists or refuses a suggestion to acknowledge their privilege.
I’m sitting with the question of when and how engaging in conflict might be useful. The softer non-confrontational approach always looks more appealing, because it’s hard to break ranks with the assumed camaraderie of white privilege.
Highly recommended! Even though it always seems like we’re too busy to do this kind of deep work, the best time to start is right now. The more each of us learns and unpacks our participation in white supremacy, the sooner it can be fully dismantled.
Please note: The various “Workbooks” now popping up are published by scammers attempting to profit from Layla Saad’s popularity. Make sure you get her book, which was already a workbook even though that is not in the title.