Week One of my reflection through the book, Me and White Supremacy by Laalya Saad was interesting.
It started on day one with a look at White Privilege. I know. I know. There are a lot of white people out there who don’t think they have white privilege. It doesn’t mean that as a white person you haven’t struggled, that you’re not poor, White privilege is having advantages just because how you look and you don’t even realize it.
When you walk into a store, it caters to white people, you will easily find the products/food that you want. Think about a haircare aisle, When a white person walks down it there are rows upon rows and sections upon sections of products to care for your hair. For a person of color, with different hair care needs, there is usually only one small shelf that doesn’t usually have a lot of options.
Or how about committing a small crime? A black person is arrested and sent to jail. A white person might get off with a “talking to” or a lesser crime. If you remember, back in 2008 there were two incidents of 7-year-old children going out for a joyride in their family car. Once caught by the police, the white child was “punished” by being grounded for a few days without his video games and a guest appearance on the Today show. The black child was arrested by the police so they could “get him into the system.” At 7. Why weren’t both boys arrested so they could be “put into the system?” That is white privilege.
Other questions were around White Fragility-when you get angry or defensive when talking about race or being shown how you benefit from things like white privilege. White people benefit from a racist system and we need to see and understand this. But I must admit, I found this section harder to understand in this book and had to go and read more on the subject outside of the book to get a better understanding of it.
Tone policing was another subject. This is when a BIPOC is told to calm down or use a softer tone that won’t put off people. It’s another way of expecting black people to cater to and give into our needs and our comfort levels.
It also reminded me of a time when I didn’t speak up when someone was making a comment about how some women were verbally reacting during a concert. Luckily, the comments were not made to the women, but I heard the comment, made by a friend, and said nothing about it.
White silence was another subject. You know….staying silent when you see a BIPOC being discriminated against at work, not engaging in conversations of race because of your own white fragility, because you don’t want to rock the boat. Staying silent when it counts, by not holding those around your accountable for their behavior.
It’s a discussion about white silence that actually made me realize that my silence spoke volumes. By not pointing out racist memes on FB because I didn’t want to cause problems within my family. But I realized by not saying anything, I was in turn allowing it.
White superiority looked at how we were brought up in a system that values European/White standards of behavior and even beauty and then expect BIPOC to conform to these standards. Tone policing falls into this category as well as describing how a BIPOC speak “ghetto” and thinking white people are the only ones who speak correctly.
And finally, in this first week, we looked at white exceptionalism. The best way to describe this is a direct quote from the book, “I have come to see white exceptionalism as a double-sided weapon that on one side shields people with white privilege from having to do antiracism work under the belief that ‘I’m not a racist; I’m one of the good ones’ and on the other side shoots out arrows at BIPOC by expecting them to carry the burden of dismantling white supremacy under the belief that racism is something that is a Black or Brown problem but not a white problem.”
It is most assuredly, a white problem. And that is why we need to do the work.
On day seven we were asked to look back at what we’ve uncovered during the week about our personal complicity in white supremacy. What wasn’t I able to see before I started this work. The thing that stands out the most for me was my silence when it came to people I know.
My friends or family. It’s far easier to speak out when you don’t know who you’re speaking to when you don’t have a personal connection. But when it comes to family, so much harder because I don’t want to rock the boat. Sure, I spoke out a little here or there and I usually did it by posting something myself. But I always shied away from commenting on any racist memes or posts of theirs. But not anymore. I am commenting. I am trying to educate, even though they don’t want the education.
Remember that conversation that I told you about last week, where it was pointed out that if white people want black people to interact with our blogs, then we need to make them feel welcome? Having a blog with only pictures of white women on it is not showcasing a diverse blog that would be welcoming to a BIPOC.
I would read blogs by black women. But then when I sat back to think about it, I also realized that these women showcased more diverse pictures, so that I, as a white woman, would feel welcome. But isn’t that in some small way, white exceptionalism? I was expecting a black blogger to use pictures that would make me feel more comfortable, but I wasn’t doing the same for her.
That is week one. Has anything stood out for you? Made you think of moments in your life? Made you uncomfortable?