An activist program for confronting white privilege and dismantling white supremacy.
Building on a workbook downloaded by nearly 90,000 readers, multicultural writer Saad, born in Britain and now living in Doha, Qatar, delivers “a one of a kind personal antiracism tool” that is meant foremost to teach white readers how to recognize their privilege and “take ownership of their participation in the oppressive system of white supremacy.” Many readers will likely recoil, protesting that they’re not racist, are colorblind, have nothing but benevolent thoughts, and so forth. The author is ready for them: White supremacy, she writes, is not just a comprehensive system, but it also trains those who benefit most from it to “keep you asleep and unaware” of the power that whites hold relative to those of other races and ethnicities: “BIPOC,” as in, “Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.” Saad enumerates some of the features of that power: Pulled over for a traffic violation, a white motorist doesn’t usually have to fear for their life; any stylist can cut their hair; popular culture considers people who look like them to be representative; and so on. The author’s approach is at first confrontational and righteously indignant, but as she guides her readers—including BIPOCs who may for whatever reason benefit from systems of white privilege and supremacy—through a monthlong series of lessons, including self-critical journal prompts, one has the sense that her method is much like that of Marine Corps boot camp: Tear down in order to build up. A reader’s guilt may rise and crest, buttressed by sweeping damned-if-you-do-or-don’t condemnation for such things as “clinging to pink pussy hats, safety pins, and hashtags over doing the real work.” At the end, however, that reader is assured that even though they may be part of the problem, “you are simultaneously also a part of the answer.”
A bracing, highly useful tool for any discussion of combating racism.