Quercus is giving a copy of the workbook Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad to every member of staff at Hachette UK this month, challenging employees to spend 28 days reflecting on manifestations of white supremacy, including white privilege.
Billed as the book to read after Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (Bloomsbury Circus) when it was announced last year, Me and White Supremacy started out as a self-published workbook that was downloaded 75,000 times in the first three months. In the expanded and updated book, which Quercus will publish in February, readers are asked to start taking personal responsibility for their "life-long anti-racism work" by spending each of 28 days focusing on a different manifestation of white supremacy, including white privilege, cultural appropriation and tokenism.
Staff who have already taken on the challenge include members of Quercus and Changing the Story, Hachette's HR department and c.e.o. David Shelley, who said of the challenge it was "powerful, thought-provoking and, at times, quite tough".
Shelley said: "It opened my eyes in all sorts of ways and I would unequivocally recommend this book and recommend doing the challenge. I know Quercus have big plans to get the book to as many readers as possible and I fully back that, as I think it could be an important catalyst for change."
Quercus' Jane Sturrock, who acquired the book, said: "Working our way through Me and White Supremacy as a group has really brought the book to life. I can't think of another book that has generated as much self-reflection and challenging discussion among my colleagues and I hope that will inform not just the way in which we publish Layla's book, but the rest of our publishing from here on."
Author Saad author, described Me and White Supremacy as "not just a book that you read – it's a book that you do". She added: "It's so important for people to actively engage with the book so that they can go beyond an intellectual and theoretical understanding of anti-racism, and learn to practice an embodied and internalised understanding of anti-racism. When people begin to understand, by doing the work, how they are personally complicit in white supremacy, they become better empowered to combat racism in their homes, at their jobs, in their communities, and in the world at large."