Cheryl Atkinson of Holy Trinity in Old Strathcona, Edmonton, shares this reflection on the March meeting of the Anti-Racism Book Club hosted on Zoom by Good Shepherd Anglican Church.
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad is a guide for white people to do the self-examination necessary to pursue the work of anti-racism. It was not like other books we have studied in our book club; it invites or even demands our active participation. The book is a series of 28 topics with accompanying prompts for reflective journaling. Like layers in an onion, each topic reveals another truth about how white North Americans have been shaped by a system of white supremacy. It forces you to look inward at your own deeply held beliefs and experiences to discover painful truths about yourself. White members of our book club found it a challenging and uncomfortable read. I believe BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) members of our group found explanation and confirmation of their lived experience. I am very grateful for their presence and participation in our discussions as it is made absolutely clear that what this book says is true: that dismantling white supremacy is the job of white people.
Moving forward, we discussed how love could transform our fear and discomfort into concrete antiracism actions that we are taking or will take. From echoing BIPOC voices so that antiracism messages are amplified with appropriate credit given; to simply acknowledging fellow BIPOC parishioners with a friendly greeting; to attending antiracism demonstrations and even revisiting this book again each Lent; white book club members committed to ways we could each contribute to dismantling racism.
The evening concluded with thoughts about areas of our lives, our communities and our churches that continue to be shaped by racist thoughts and behaviours. White supremacy has been centuries in the making and it will take much truth-seeking, love, and determination over time to do the work God is calling us to do, but as Ms. Saad says in the introduction to her book, “Create the change the world needs by creating change within yourself”.