Friday, July 3, 2020

Book Talk | Dismantling White Supremacy Day 6


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 Six Prompts

White Exceptionalism - the belief that you, as a person holding white privilege, are exempt from the effects, benefits, and conditioning of white supremacy and therefore that the work of antiracism does not really apply to you (definition given at 27%)

1. In what ways  have you believed that you are exceptional, exempt, "one of the good ones", or above the conditioning of white supremacy?

2. In what ways have you acted out of a sense of white exceptionalism when in racial conversations with BIPOC? (for example, when called out for unintenional racist behavior, have you tried to explain or demonstrate that you are "one of the good ones"?)

3. Reread the extract from Martine Luther King Jr.'s letter and think back on the topics we have covered so far in the book. How has your white exceptionalism prevented you from showing up in allyship to BIPOC?

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

(Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 28%)

4. Think back to your childhood. How did society (parents, schools, the media) teach you white exceptionalism?

5. If you are a parent, in what ways are you teaching your children white exceptionalism?

Let's talk!


  1. "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection." Still true and still depressing.

    1. Incredibly depressing! I don't understand that indifference to the suffering of others. At least with that rejection Dr King refers to, you know exactly where you stand. But that indifference, it isn't clear and I agree it is all still true and horribly depressing.

  2. 1. I guess I have never thought of myself in that term, "one of the good ones'. I try to be a good person in general to everyone I meet. I did not become familiar with the term 'white privilege' until college, as I detailed in a previous post, so I had never really considered before the antiracist work I need to do on myself, and help others do on themselves either. It has taken a few years beyond that introduction to really understand and see for myself how I have benefited from white supremacy, and continue to even today while I am attempting to actively work against that same white supremacy.

    2. I don't know that I have ever been called out for anything I have said or done. I feel like there were probably times I should have been, but my paraprofessionals kind of took pity on me for not knowing better. I definitely can think of instances now where I should have been called out A LOT, like super often, and that is in regards to language. Students would say, "can I axe a question?" and I would say "No, we can't kill questions, but you can ask one." Looking back on those instances absolutely horrifies me because who decides what language, pronunciation, etc, is correct? I want to kick myself for all the times I have corrected a Black students' language when I should not have.

    3. I think I have made excuses before for why I could not attend this march or that rally or this protest in the past, A LOT. Most of those excuses were because Eleanor was so little at the time when this really became something I was aware of, coinciding with my teaching in North Omaha at predominantly Black schools. That more than anything else opened up my eyes to the needs of my BIPOC Brothers and Sisters, and I want to assist in any way I am told that assistance is needed.

    4. I don't know that it was ever taught. In that era something we were taught that being color blind was a good thing, and we should see the person/not the color of their skin. Now, we are realizing what a terrible idea that was, because denying notice of something that contributes to and encompasses someone's lived experiences is a really shitty thing to teach kids.

    5. I really began having conversations with Eleanor about race this year, in the wake of George Floyd's murder. It was the first time I was not as good as I have usually been at keeping horrific events from her young eyes. But with all of my family still living in MN, in suburbs of Minneapolis, it was all we talked about, and still part of the conversation over two months later. So I explained as best I could, in a way that six year old (now seven, as she just had her birthday a couple weeks ago) would understand, that a white police officer hurt a Black man very badly, and it has made people upset because it was unfair and not justice. I explained to her why we make signs and march, and that we can help in any way we are asked to. I hope to God nothing I teach her ever somehow becomes the idea of white exceptionalism. There is always more work to do.


Thanks for visiting my little book nook. I love talking books so leave a comment and let's chat!