Books,  Current Events,  Mediated Musings

Understanding White Supremacy

Multitudes of guides have come out recently about white supremacy and anti-racism. These resources aim to introduce white folxs to the concept of white supremacy as a system of power in which all are complicit.

Since Sitting in the Stacks originated as a book review blog, I have aggregated various resource lists here. I have also included some of my personal favorites that helped me step from behind the heavy, blinding curtain of white privilege to recognize the systemic violence and oppression that is on-going in the United States.

If you’re already rolling your eyes and trying to argue with the first paragraph, you’re definitely in need of these resources. But maybe you’re not ready yet. Why? Below is a list of questions I would ask you, dear reader, to reflect on before continuing to dismiss the the existence of systemic white supremacy and the need for anti-racism education.

Mindset Challenging Questions

What percentage of your friend group is white?

How many black folks are you close friends with?
Would they same the same about you?

Think of people in authority positions, who comes to mind?
Are they white?
Are they male?

Name one expert or person in authority that is black.
Do you seek out their opinions?
Do you trust them?

Describe your neighborhood and your neighbors.
Who do you see walking down the street?
If you were to see a black person walking on your block would you:
A. Be surprised
B. Be suspicious
C. Be scared
D. Wave, say hi, and ask them how their day is going, maybe invite them for some social distancing socialization

When you hear the word “criminal” what image comes to mind?

What thoughts go through your mind when you hear sirens behind you while driving?

What if you were pulled over — are you scared?

If you were assaulted or mugged on the street, who would you turn to? The police? Why?

Have you been followed around a store while shopping because the clerk was suspicious you’d steal?

Have you been rejected from advancing in a job search because your name was “too black”?

And these are just the beginning….

White Supremacy Resources

If you’ve made it this far in the post, I applaud you. It’s time to take the next step — education.

Now, I’ve been writing this post as if I am speaking to a fellow white person, but you may be non-black and a person of color curious about white supremacy. The following resources are accessible to all and provide illuminating insight into the history, present status, and actions anyone can do if they are interested in being anti-racist and countering white supremacy.

Education is the first step towards understanding your place within the system of white supremacy. And it’s on us to do that work and not expect black folxs to teach us, comfort us, and attend to our concerns.

The next step is action. Following the books, movies, podcasts, etc. that are mentioned in this post, I link to a few resources on how to enact anti-racism.

I want to give a huge shout out to all the folxs sharing resources right now that made it possible for this post to be more than just the few books I already new about. As a community we can better educate ourselves and collectively work to address the problem of systemic white supremacy.

Books I Personally Suggest

  1. Me & White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
    I first became aware of Saad’s work during an Instagram challenge she launched about white supremacy in 2018. I downloaded the pdf version of the book back then and was happy to hear it ended up being published! This workbook walks you through white privilege, white supremacy, white fragility, and forces you to reflect and look inside your own thoughts, experiences, and actions. It’s a necessary first step in anyone’s antiracist education.
  2. White Fragility by Robin J. DiAngelo
    I had the honor of hearing Robin speak at a church in St. Paul, MN back in 2017. DiAngelo studies questions of race and social inequality in her work as an academic, but she’s also done the work to confront the place of racial privilege in her own life. This book (one I’m about to read) gets at the discomfort many white folxs have when talking about race and why that itself should be a clue to deeper social issues.
  3. The Racial Contract by Charles W. Mills
    If you are a political science nerd and can talk about Rousseau’s social contract until the end of time, this is a MUST READ for you. It explores how the foundations of democratic society as rooted in the concept of the social contract are manifestations of white supremacy. Mills does a deep dive into the political and social construction of Western societies that claim equality for all, while being built on systemic inequality. The book can get theoretical, but it’s worth the read because you’ll be shocked when you’re done.
  4. The First Civil Right by Naomi Murakawa
    You know about the problems of the incarceration system. You get that the U.S. has an industrial prison complex. But do you still hold to the phrase law & order? If so, this is the book for you! Murakawa explores how the phrase “law & order” was political, racial code for the criminalization of black folxs. More importantly, she outlines the history of the U.S. prison systems and demonstrates how liberalism, as practiced by Republicans and Democrats, contributed to the discriminatory mass incarceration of today.
  5. Dark Matters by Simone Browne
    Browne pieces together a brilliant genealogy of surveillance and blackness, but is also an amazing writer! This is still one of my all time favorite academic books. Dark Matters ties together the lamp laws and “Book of Negroes” from slavery to contemporary biometric and public methods of surveillance. Browne demonstrates how surveillance has continually been constructed through racialization.

Other Resources

Here are some more action oriented resources:

What other resources have you come across? What is missing from this list?

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