Even 'Good Allies' Are Probably Complicit: Layla Saad on Countering White Supremacy

It’s not a Black person’s job to teach white people how to be less racist, but advocates like Layla Saad continue to guide people through the process.

Saad’s new book, Me & White Supremacy is based on an Instagram challenge she created of the same name, where she asked white and white-passing participants to reflect on a series of questions and prompts about their own complicity in maintaining a system of white supremacy.

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I knew that it had to go beyond Instagram,” Saad told Jezebel. “So the Me & White Supremacy Instagram challenge evolved into the Me & White Supremacy workbook, which has now evolved into the Me & White Supremacy published hardcover book.”

In the book, Saad encourages readers to investigate their relationship to a number of topics, including cultural appropriation, white-centric feminism, and racist stereotypes. Saad’s text lets no one off the hook; it insists that it is especially useful tool for those who feel that they are already good enough allies. Her prompts about white exceptionalism (thinking that you are less complicit in white supremacy than other less-liberal white people), white saviorism (wanting to be viewed as a hero instead of listening to actual Black and PoC leaders), and optical allyship (for example, sharing posts on social media without actually doing grassroots activism) challenge those who define themselves as allies to further interrogate the depth of their anti-racism work.

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Ultimately, Saad believes that everyone has the potential to benefit from her work.

“Some people might think that there are some people who are too far gone, that they are so racist or so proud in their racism that they could never receive this kind of work or they could never be open to this kind of transformation. And what I say to that is, every human being was created equally and all of us have an opportunity to learn if we choose to”

Watch the video above for Saad on dismantling white saviorist narratives and how to be an actually good ally—and not just on Twitter.

producer, jezebel

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DISCUSSION

puppiesoverbabies
puppies>babies

Super interesting and I’m definitely going to look into that work book. I’m white and try to be so conscious of making sure I’m not just a social media activist and not centering myself in the conversation, but have no doubt there’s more I can do.

Slight tangent, but genuinely curious: In the case of The Help, was Emma Stone’s character really the same white savior trope as Matt Damon in The Great Wall? During the time in which The Help was set, is she not being a good ally by ensuring the stories of Black Women were heard in their voices, paying them for their work, and speaking out against the racism she saw - in a way that jeopardized her social standing that she obvi. didn’t care about or value more than doing what was right. I can definitely see the problematic role her attachment to the housekeeper she grew up with and the blindness she had to her treatment, but overall how else could that particular story have been told? Maybe the writer being a black woman who is somehow able to publish anonymously and getting the same success with the book? Not trying to argue - genuinely wanting to understand because I liked that story, but if I need to think more critically about it, I want to!

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