Me & White Supremacy: A manifesto for beginning the work

I belong to a small group of friends working through Layla Saad’s Me & White Supremacy. Here is my intention for this work. This is, like everything, a work in progress.

I want to live in a world where everybody is free.

Not a world that calls itself free, but where in reality freedom is only available to white people, and people of colour experience daily violence in the deliberate upholding of that system.

I look around me. I see injustice everywhere. Racism, white supremacy, colonialism. It is loud, and it is subtle. I see it in schools, universities, the media, families, homes, prisons, hospitals, streets, everywhere, ingrained in our culture.

I see it ingrained in me. I name myself a product of this culture and I own that uncomfortable status. I see that I am an oppressor, a white ally, a perpetrator of race violence, a coloniser, an upholder of white supremacy – even when I do not wish to be, even when I long and long not to be, even when I say ‘but I am doing the work!’, even when I am doing the work.

I notice that I am guilty. I notice that I am shameful. I notice how I want to crush these feelings, not engage. I know that this is a trap, a stuck place, a space for avoidance, a substitute for something meaningful. I acknowledge my guilt and shame, I ask them to the table for what they have to teach. I sit with them briefly. I feel their stomach-churning heart-racing messages, telling me I am unsafe, and that that is the most important thing, making me safe again.

I smile and nod.

And then I move on.

I commit to exploring with real honesty and curiosity the layers of white supremacy within me, with this book as my guide and this group holding me accountable and helping me hold myself accountable. I commit to not turning away, and to noticing when I do, and to coming back.

I commit to casting a critical, judging mind over these revelations, seeking out the patterns, the links that weave my story into a bigger one
– but not getting stuck in the critique.

I commit to sharing with real vulnerability in our group. Tending to our container, engaging with processes that build a braver space, modelling what I hope for, pushing myself to go there, allowing others to pull me and call me in.

I commit to understanding our particular group dynamics, as a majority-white group with just one person of colour. I know that our group is in one sense just another space where white supremacy is in action – and I am engaged in the work of noticing, naming and dismantling this when I see it.

I commit to alchemising my learning into practice, practice, practice. Practicing speaking up, calling in, calling out, naming white supremacy wherever I see it, seeing it more often and then acting. Noticing the process as I do this, what’s activated in me, making mistakes, learning, getting better.

I commit to bringing this work into every part of my life: home life, community life, my partnership, my business – these are all areas to unpack aspects of my white supremacy.

Particularly in my business I’m uncovering a lot. So I name my specific commitment to the project of critiquing, unpacking and rebuilding parts of my business where white supremacy is lurking.

And I commit to centring love in all of this. Fierce and tender love for people of colour. Tender and fierce love for the WOEs walking with me in this work. Complex, hopeful/hopeless love for the world I work towards.

I commit myself fully to this group and this work. To weekly group sessions, to the personal work in between sessions, and to the wider practice that is growing from it.