by Cecile Halliday @SuttonPrepDH

Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad came to my attention through different avenues. Firstly, tweets from @nourishedschool and @WomenEd so this prompted ordering the book. It then popped up again after some unconscious bias training from a Canadian course facilitator who directed us to the book for further work but it was presented as a workbook. Even though I had the book at home ready for my pile of holiday reading, I went and asked for the “workbook” that had been ordered as a follow up from the training. It was only when it was in my hand that I realised it was in fact the same thing… The book …. and this “workbook” that was clearly a book.

I had thought the workbook would have gaps for me to fill in and follow like a school child who would work through it, a way of confirming and consolidating the information I had received in my training session…. I know as I type and reflect it was quite ridiculous of me. Therein lies perhaps the first rooky error on my part with this book. I thought it was a book.

This point is important as I feel “Book” feels like a more passive experience where the effort, hard work and time had been put in from the author to collate and present information and perspectives so that I could just read and absorb it whilst educating and empowering myself.

Me and White Supremacy is great for all audiences. It made me aware of obvious subtle and unexplored ways that white supremacy had been and is present in my life. I got unexpected things from reading it. It felt like a safe space where information, examples, new vocabulary and probing questions were presented and I then explored at a steady pace. I was surprised at times at how some success and personal relationships I had encountered could be viewed in a different light with other agendas at play.

It’s a very in-depth structural report on a house you’d fallen in love with that you knew needed work but nevertheless you had seen the potential in it. It was the structural report that highlights the necessary urgent true warts and all version of what was required to make that potential a reality.

Although the findings were at times a surprise and scary, when the enormity landed it helped you deal with overwhelm by channelling those first steps of inward and outward, solitude and collaborative work. I have recommended the book. It’s interesting as some say “I have read that book” or “I am working through that book”. I think that reading the book is ok but not if that is purely where it ends. It has been challenging and painful to initiate some discussions with all that the world has thrown recently. As a woman of colour this book has created safe spaces and conversations for me in a number of ways. When conversations reach a point that feel too painful or too exposing the book has been a good next step before picking up the chat. It has been easier for the book to explain rather than absorbing the brunt directly of some others fragility. It helps me to be comfortable having uncomfortable conversations.

It has forced me to recognise and challenge the incorrect narrative in my head that uncomfortable is a bad negative feeling which should be avoided. I am learning to sit with it and channel my 10% braver