Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor

Book review by
Mandie Caroll, Common Sense Media
Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor Book Poster Image
28-day program for teens, families to become anti-racist.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Definitions and exploration of terms related to white supremacy including: "White fragility," "tone policing," "White silence," "anti-Blackness," "White apathy," and "tokenism." Questions and prompts at the end of each section help readers process what they've read/learned and reflect on these phenomenon in their own lives.

Positive Messages

The work of ending White supremacy is hard, and often doesn't feel good, but do it because it's the right thing to do. Seek to do good. Let go of your desire to be seen as a good person. You can only be part of the solution if you also know how you are a part of the problem. All of us are needed to dismantle White supremacy. You are capable of doing this work.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The author models how various concepts work by sharing examples from her life, and of other thinkers, writers, and people she's encountered. As a narrator, Layla F. Saad is thorough, forthright, honest, and has high expectations for the reader.

Violence

Topics such as police brutality, online racist harassment, and other violence associated with White supremacy are sometimes described and referred to, though nothing is excessively graphic.

Sex
Language

A few uses of "s--t." "A--hole" and "whore" are used once each.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor, by Laya F. Saad, is a guide to exploring White supremacy that grew out of author's 28-day Instagram challenge and its related workbook that was downloaded over 90,000 times. After a foundational introduction, each of 28 days covers a topic related to White supremacy, such as "White fragility," "tone policing," "White silence," "anti-Blackness," "White apathy," and "tokenism." Reflective prompts and questions at the end of each "day" give readers the opportunity to explore in writing how these concepts have shaped their lives. The author warns that this is not a feel-good self-help book, that it is hard work. But she appeals to readers' desire to do the right thing and create safer, more cohesive communities. It's aimed at adults who are White or anyone who benefits from White privilege, but older teens would certainly find this an accessible book.   

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What's the story?

WHITE SUPREMACY AND ME is divided in to two sections, the first being an introduction to "the work" readers will do to identify their participation in White supremacy. The second section is divided into four weeks, with each chapter covering a day. Each day focuses on one topic, like "White silence," "White exceptionalism," "cultural appropriation," and "allyship" using personal reflection, quotes from other books, stories from friends and followers to explore the idea. Each chapter follows the same question and answer format: "What is the concept?" "How does the concept show up?" and "Why do you need to look at this concept?" Chapters conclude with a set of reflection journaling prompts to help readers delve into the intricacies of each concept. An appendix for book groups, a glossary and an extended learning list round out this compact and information-packed book.

Is it any good?

Many excellent books cover similar ground, but few are as bracingly honest and well organized for readers to process via written reflection prompts. Author Layla F. Saad's incisive insights about the dynamics that perpetuate the oppressive systems covered in White Supremacy and Me may be seen as advancing a subjective perspective. But in light of the rapidly shifting landscape of racial justice around the world, it's hard to ignore the clarity of her ideas. This author does not hold hands or coddle White people: It may be emotionally difficult for some readers, but, she argues, White folks need to do this work because it's the right thing to do. Like a workbook for aspiring White anti-racists, older White teens and the adults in their family or sphere may find working through this groundbreaking program together allows for the greatest insight and growth.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the negative emotions such as defensiveness, anger, shame, and guilt that may arise while reading and working through Me and White Supremacy. How does the author encourage readers to move through those emotions? Who can you talk to if thinking about these issues brings up heavy emotions?

  • Who do you think should read this book and work through this program? How could it help bring about positive social change?  

  • How do books that offer prompts and questions at the end of each chapter work for you? If you've never read or used an interactive book like this, what are some of your concerns or questions about this format for learning and reflection?

Book details

  • Author: Layla F. Saad
  • Genre: Advice
  • Topics: Activism
  • Book type: Non-Fiction
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: January 28, 2020
  • Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 18
  • Number of pages: 256
  • Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
  • Last updated: July 2, 2020

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