Sunday, June 28, 2020

Book Talk | Dismantling White Supremacy Day 1


I began this book last week and would love to have discussions based on the prompts provided within the book. The book is set up so that after each day's reading, there are a handful of prompts to respond to. Feel free to respond to as many or as few as you like. I would love for this to be a discussion and a place where we can learn and grow together. Please be honest, because that is the only way anything will change.

Additionally, I have been compiling a list of books under the #BlackLivesMatter Reading List tab. I am usually adding books daily that I find, or are recommended by others. Please leave a comment on that page if you have titles to add. I hope you can find titles on this list that you will learn from as well.

Day One Prompts

White Privilege - unearned advantages that are granted because of one's whiteness or ability to "pass" as white (definition given at 13%)

1. In what ways do you hold white privilege? Study the list from Peggy McIntosh and reflect on your own daily life. Make a list of the different ways you hold white privilege in your personal life.

From the reading. In her original article McIntosh listed fifty examples. Saad has chosen a handful here for readers to think about.

1. I can, if I wish, arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about "civilization", I am shown that people of my color made it what it is

12. I can go into a book shop and count on finding the writing of my race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods that fit with my cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can deal with my hair.

15. I did not have to educate our children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

25. If a traffic cop pulls me over or if the IRS audits my tax return, I can be sure I have not been singled out because of my race.

36. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has racial overtones.

41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

2. What negative experiences has your white privilege protected you from throughout your life?

3. What positive experiences has your white privilege granted you throughout your life (that BIPOC generally do not have)?

4. In what ways have you wielded your white privilege over BIPOC that have done harm (whether or not you intended to do so)?

5. What have you learned about your white privilege that makes you uncomfortable?

Let's talk!


  1. Interesting book with good thought starters. I can say yes to most of the questions you bolded.

    1. Those are the questions McIntosh addresses in her initial article as examples of what white privilege actually is.

      The prompts are very powerful and important, even at the early stages in the book because of the misconceptions about what the terms mean. I hope you will stick around and answer some of the questions - whatever you feel comfortable with!

  2. Replies
    1. I hope you will stick around and answer some of the questions. I'd like to have this bee a discussion among as many people as are willing to join in.

  3. 1. I guess there are so many ways that I don't even know where to start. I have never been followed around a store in my life, never been stopped on my way out of a store even when the alarm has gone off because a sensor was not disarmed. Yet many of my friends and acquaintances of color have told me of so many times when this has happened to them - how people around them have held their purses more tightly, they've been followed in stores, and even how they have been stopped 'randomly' even when an alarm has NOT gone off. When waiting for help in clothing stores, I have often been addressed first even if a person of color has been waiting longer than me.

    2. When I was a junior in high school I stopped at a stop sign on the way to school, right up the hill from the building. I was talking to my BFF who was in the passenger seat and we had no idea an officer was even following us down into the lot and parked. We both got out of the car and when I turned to open the back door, I saw the officer. He was not remotely aggressive and simply told me that the next time, I needed to stay in the car when an officer approaches. I got a warning for rolling stop (which was not even accurate, because I know I came to a full stop - friends of ours in another car where at another stop sign at the same intersection and they had right of way for stopping first). I can't imagine how differently this might have gone had we been not been two white girls.

    3. While interactions with the police in the above situations are not typically positive because no one likes getting tickets, the outcome was positive because he did not view us as a threat, both because of our race and gender. Also similar to question one, I have never known the discomfort of being suspected of stealing when I am simply walking around a store.

    4. I continue to think on this one because I am sure that I have, even unknowingly. I do not want to put the burden of recalling these events on anyone else, though because that is not fair of me to ask a person of color how I have harmed them and make them relive the harm. I will continue to think on this one and hopefully come up with examples that I am sure are out there.

    5. I was first introduced to the concept of white privilege during a summer course between freshman and sophomore year. Our professor was a large and rather intimidating Black man, who very obviously terrified all the white farm boys from rural Nebraska in this class on diversity and teaching. This was the first (and only) class where we read "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh" and it made me extremely uncomfortable because I both did not want to accept it, and also was horrified that there was really this system of oppression I had benefited from my entire life without even knowing about it. I grew up in a suburb of the Twin Cities, but we were still overwhelmingly white and these were things I had never even thought about before. That class opened my eyes and I still have the article because it was of such value. I distinctly remember a debate in class about refugees and the idea of whether or not they need to learn English to come to the US. At first it seemed like a no-brainer to me that yes, refugees should. But when I stopped to consider the fact that refugees are literally fleeing with their lives, sometimes with nothing bu the clothes on their backs, I was deeply ashamed of myself and the thought that they needed to speak a language in a country that actually has no official language. To this day, the subject of white privilege angers me, but not in a way that I am denying it. I 100% know it exists, and it shouldn't. That is one of the reasons I am hopeful that these posts with spark discussions and we can combat racism together.

  4. Thanks for posting your answers, Sarah! Here are my answers as well as some comments on yours.

    1. I also have never been followed around a store when shopping. I can't remember a time when I was helped ahead of a Black person. I will definitely be more aware now and be sure to make sure people are helped in the order they arrived. I always try to do this, but I've never been conscious if it was a racial bias. Something to think about. I also think about all the areas of life that are just unfair. I can't believe how little we are taught about Black History. This shouldn't just be something that is discussed in February where the same Black historical figures are paraded around and nothing deeper is ever discussed. I still have so much to learn and I will do the work independently, but it would be nice if more was taught in elementary and high school. Then there is the fact that most school shooters are white boys and they are displayed in the media in a totally different light than if they were Black boys. The media always portrays it as such a shock when a white boy commits a horrendous crime and they act like it is expected of Black youth. It's disgraceful.

    2. White privilege has protected me from ever having conversations with my parents at any point in my life about how to stay alive because of the color of my skin. Sure, I'm more aware as a woman and know to be aware of my surroundings, but I've never had to fear police. It's sad that Black children have to be instructed on how to handle themselves around the people who are paid to protect them. And it's not only children. I follow many people who have been in recent protests and there is a definite fear there as well. It's a constant thought in Black people's minds and their guard can never be let down and that's something I've always been shielded from.

    3. White privilege has allowed me to start from a neutral to positive place in most scenerios. I feel that unfortunately Black people have to work just to be viewed in a neutral light in some spaces. It's an unfair bias and everyone should have the same starting point and be evaluated based on their skill, intelligence, personality, actions, performace, etc... not their skin color.

    4. I don't know if wielded is the word I would use here, but the only thing I can think of that I have done that would harm BIPOC is to unknowingly say something in the wrong way and offend someone. My ignorance is not an excuse and all I can do is constantly work to see other points of view and always strive to be better. I've never said or done anything to intentionally hurt someone else. I also have stayed silent when I should have spoken up. I know I've heard family or friends say things they shouldn't and I haven't spoken up for fear of rocking the boat or causing a scene. I have since started trying to talk through these things when they come up. I know that I've excused bad behavior due to a generational gap, but that's just not a good excuse anymore for me. Everyone has the ability to open their eyes and learn, change, and adapt to new cultures.

    5. That I still have so much to learn and so much work to do on myself.

    Not related to the questions, but while I was Googling around about these topics, I came across a site I'd like to share. We need more people spreading positive news about BIPOC. Check it out!

    1. I have heard so many stories about being followed around in stores. It is alarming and something I had never given any thought to until I started working in schools where I had more Black colleagues. It had never crossed my mind that this happens, until then. I have really tried to be aware constantly when I am given attention first, despite not being the first one waiting.

      There is so much we do not know about Black history and it is unfortunate that it always gets confined to February. My paraprofessionals and I really tried to use the whole month to really teach our students, because in all honesty, with our curriculum and time allotments pounded into our heads, there is little time to fit it in elsewhere. We collaborated on projects for the students, looking at scientists and inventors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and more. One thing I did keep as a constant though is that I would show Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, and the students also had the entire month to learn their assigned part of the speech. It really sounded pretty amazing when we would perform it, the kids (almost all) took it really seriously. But there needs to be more room in our curriculum to learn about Black history, and not just confine it to one time of year.

      Your point about white shooters is so spot-on. Can someone please explain to me how Dylann fucking Roof can not only be taken into custody alive, but taken to a fast food place for a meal - having committed a crime that actually DOES carry the death penalty...yet George Floyd, who may or may not have even known the $20 was fake or not (if it was, I have seen conflicting reports), ends up murdered in the street.

      That fear of "rocking the boat" is definitely real, but I have stayed silent when I should have said something after hearing racist remarks. I think the excusing of the behavior due to generational gaps is a huge thing. A while back I saw a post where someone stated we can't make excuses for the older generations because they've already been through this and should already know better, meaning of course the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. I try to keep that in mind always when responding in situations with people who are old enough to remember.

      Thanks for sharing Good Black News! I meant to on the reading list and totally forgot. It's a fantastic site and resource.

  5. I apologize for joining/commenting so late, but I love the idea of having a space to discuss these ideas. Some thoughts I had about my white privilege in the first chapter:

    1. I’m able to blend into the crowd/not draw attention to myself in the places I frequent. I lived for 10 years in Germany and I was also able to blend in/pass as German by looks.

    2.My family has been able to build wealth over 5 generations. All had access to good neighborhoods, good jobs, good schools.

    3.I have never had to wonder if my skin color affected how someone was treating me.

    I have been in several situations where a lone POC was in a sea of white people, and had to act as a representative of their race or ethnicity. For example, a black person asked about her opinion on racism or BLM, or a person of Mexican heritage asked about immigration issues. I can imagine that this would get rather tiresome being relied on as a spokesperson for a very diverse group of people?

    I'm so glad I found this blog!


    1. Hi Jenny!

      Thank you so much for joining the discussions. I am so glad people are finding their way here, that is my intention, to have as many included as possible. I have fallen behind in providing my own answers, as my daughter just had a birthday, but I am going to be going back and continuing to answer as fully as I can.

      I think that's an excellent point you bring up, as how one BIPOC is asked to answer for their entire group(s) because they happen to be the only BIPOC present. I can't imagine carrying the burden of being expected to speak for your entire race, and it so insulting.

      I also like that you brought up living abroad, yet no one would have known you were not German. I have seen several interviews with prominent Black speakers from the UK who have described their experiences as the opposite, they are fully citizens of the UK, born/lived there their entire lives, but automatically assumed to not be due to the color of their skin. Our white skin alone has sort of protected us in so many ways, probably more than we will ever know.

    2. Sorry, forgot to say but the posts go up every morning at 9 AM CST. Glad you're here!


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