Me and White Supremacy Themes
by Layla F. Saad

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Me and White Supremacy Themes

The main themes in Me and White Supremacy are allyship, white supremacy, and anti-Blackness.

  • Allyship: Saad encourages white readers to reflect on whether they have engaged in acts of performative allyship and discusses concrete actions they can take to become better allies in the fight against racism.
  • White supremacy: Though many people think white supremacy is a fringe ideology, Saad argues that it is pervasive in our society and asks white readers to rethink how they contribute to and benefit from white supremacy.
  • Anti-Blackness: Saad demonstrates how widespread stereotypes about Black people translate into real harm on both an individual and a systemic level.

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Themes

Allyship

Ultimately, the aim of Me and White Supremacy is to teach people with white privilege how to become a good ally to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color). Even though Me and White Supremacy was designed to last its reader only 28 days, Saad repeatedly emphasizes that practicing anti-racism is a lifelong commitment.

While simply reading texts on race and racism (such as Me and White Supremacy) is practicing anti-racism itself, Saad devotes Week 3 of the book to educating her readers on allyship and the common white supremacist beliefs and behaviors false allies practice. These beliefs and actions include white centering, tokenism, white saviorism, optical allyship, and responding inappropriately to being called out/called in. Saad argues that these behaviors stem directly from white supremacy, whether the perpetrator is conscious of it or not. For example, certain organizations or events might practice tokenism in an effort to appear more progressive, diverse, or anti-racist, without actually being willing to incorporate racial equality into their policies. 

In the past, practicing anti-racism meant supporting and involving oneself in movements that pushed for racial equality—such as the abolitionist movement and the civil rights movement of the 1950s–60s. Saad emphasizes the need for every ally to take real action, and she enumerates specific and concrete ways in which one can become a better ally. This includes being responsible for one’s anti-racism education and seeking out anti-racist educators, mentors, and coaches, as well as consuming books, podcasts, films, and other resources on race and anti-racism. Saad also emphasizes the importance of moving beyond the personal realm to enact meaningful systemic change—whether by showing up at marches, rallies, and fund-raisers for BIPOC or by supporting anti-racist or BIPOC leaders and politicians. 

White Supremacy

The very focus of Me and White Supremacy is white people, or people holding white privilege, and their relationship with white supremacy. What Saad chooses to engage with in Me and White Supremacy are the modern-day effects, consequences, and implications of racism and white supremacy, and she aims to show how one can recognize and correct the many manifestations of white supremacy—both in oneself and in others. While Saad does not conduct a historical investigation of racism and white supremacy, she nevertheless acknowledges that these ideas are deeply rooted in European colonialism, imperialism, and historical inequalities of power. The concept of white supremacy can be traced back to as early as mid-1600s Europe, where Enlightenment thinkers first attempted to draw distinctions between large groups of people, thus leading to what we now know as “race.” What led to the inception of white supremacist thoughts and beliefs, however, was the assertion of these thinkers that certain qualities, virtues and vices are inherent to race. Swedish physician and zoologist Carl Linnaeus, for example, theorized that the Europeanus were gentle and intelligent while the Afer or Africanus were lazy, lustful, and capricious. These Eurocentric views that lent false scientific “credibility” to white supremacy still impact our society today, despite having been discredited time and time...

(The entire section is 877 words.)