Me and White Supremacy

by Layla F. Saad

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Part 2: Week 2 Summary

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Last Updated on August 7, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 782

Week two of White Supremacy and Me tackles the issues of color blindness, anti-Blackness, racist stereotypes, and cultural appropriation. 

Day eight focuses on race-based color blindness, which Saad defines as the idea that one does not notice people’s race or color nor treat them differently because of it. However, the promise of equality that color blindness brings is dangerous and false, as simply refusing to acknowledge the social constructs of race does not erase the harsh realities of racial discrimination. One must not fall into the trap of color blindness, as the only way to dismantle racism is to awaken one’s consciousness to its many manifestations and fight it. 

Day nine focuses on anti-Blackness against Black Women and begins with a quote from African American actress Viola Davis’ Sherry Lansing Leadership Award acceptance speech: “…it’s always so romanticized. We have to be maternal. We have to be the savior. We have to make that white character feel better.”

Saad asserts that the lack of representation and stereotyping in mainstream media is a result of anti-Blackness. Black women, in particular, are either superhumanized (as strong, queenly, and independent) or dehumanized (as ugly or unworthy of love and attention). For Black women, the consequences of this stereotyping manifests in areas such as the legal and medical fields. For example, mental illnesses of Black women are often dismissed by therapists and mental health professionals as mere anger. It is particularly important to address anti-Blackness against Black women because they are one of the most vulnerable and disempowered groups in our society.

Day ten focuses on anti-Blackness against Black men. Due to America’s brutal history with the African people, Black men have been (and still continue to be) ruthlessly stereotyped and stripped of their humanity. In order to justify violence against Black men, the idea that they are dangerous and belligerent is often perpetuated in our culture, leaving Black men in a vulnerable position in society. In 1989, for example, five Black men from New York (“the Central Park Five”) were falsely accused of sexual assault and subsequently sentenced six to thirteen years in prison. It is important to recognize that harmful stereotyping of Black men upholds the colonialist and white supremacist mindset that they are savages who need to be tamed or put down.

Day eleven focuses on anti-Blackness against Black children. Saad cites two recent US studies that found that Black children are generally seen as less innocent and less childlike than their white counterparts. This often unconscious “adultification” results in the Black children being treated with less care, affection, and understanding than the average child needs. So as not to deprive them of their childhood, it is important to recognize and root out anti-Blackness against Black children.

Day twelve focuses on racist stereotypes. Saad asserts that racist stereotyping, both in the media and in our collective consciousness, serves to maintain the position of BIPOC as the “other.” In a white-dominated society, the ones who do not fall into the norm are often marginalized, dehumanized, and criminalized. Saad also distinguishes between two key terms: “racism” and “prejudice.” She defines prejudice as prejudgments based on negative racial stereotypes and other such factors. Racism, however, is the combination of prejudice and power, wherein the dominant racial group (i.e., white people) wields personal, systemic, and institutional power over racial groups. Because of this power structure, BIPOC can only ever be prejudiced—not racist—toward white people.

Day thirteen focuses on cultural appropriation. Saad defines this term as “the adoption or exploitation of another culture by a more dominant culture,” using Nigerian-American writer Ijeoma Oluo’s definition from her...

(This entire section contains 782 words.)

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2018 bookSo You Want to Talk about Race. Saad clarifies that what makes one cultural dominant over another involves both the historic and present-day relationship between them, and whether that relationship includes (or has ever included) colonization, forced assimilation, land theft, or enslavement. The culture that is benefitting or has benefitted from such oppression is the dominant one. It is common, therefore, for a member of the dominant culture to steal, tokenize, or fetishize the culture of the oppressed under the guise of “appreciation.” The spheres in which cultural appropriation often takes place include fashion, beauty, food, spirituality, music, cultural holidays and events, and linguistic styles. The danger with cultural appropriation, according to Saad, is that it “rewrites history with whiteness at the center.”

On day fourteen, Saad asks readers to reflect on the negative and dehumanizing ways they typically treat or think of BIPOC. Readers are also invited to look back on the issues tackled in week one and connect them to how they feel about the issues tackled in week two.


Part 2: Week 1 Summary


Part 2: Week 3 Summary