Saira Rao: Why White Women Need to Talk About Our Racism

Talking about racism is hard. But ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Empathy requires us to be humble and curious and to sometimes have hard, honest, emotional conversations. Only in acknowledging wrongs can we make things right -and that actually benefits all of us. 

Today, my guest Saira Rao gets real about the role seemingly well-intentioned and even Liberal white women play in supporting the patriarchy and oppression. Our conversation goes far deeper than DEI efforts – which Saira will share her opinions on. We talk about how Race2Dinner got started, what Saira experienced in her run for Congress a few years ago, how she and Regina’s voices have even been censored by the BBC. We also talk about why white women’s conditioning to be nice and not rock the boat is killing people of color, and the hard choices we need to make if we truly want to save our country and communities. As Saira says in the interview, we are dying and we need to take risks, become aware, and have hard conversations with each other. As she states, once white supremacy goes away, many of our societal problems will go away, too.

Key Takeaways:

  • White women have more power than they know, but consistently choose whiteness over everything else. You have the power to talk about racism and to make changes. So do it. 
  • It takes all kinds of people, of all backgrounds, to do this work. Start the conversations, point out the inequalities around you, and start doing the work on yourself first. 
  • Individualism is colonialist behavior. White supremacy hurts everyone, including white people.
  • There is nothing micro about a microaggression. 

“The amount of energy white women spend – time, money, and energy – to say ‘not me,’ use that energy to go turn other white women – your neighbors, kids, friends, parents, teachers. Get to work. Instead of patting yourselves on the back, start turning other people in your community. Because we can’t. You can.” —  Saira Rao

“Let’s start feeling comfortable having these conversations. We’re not going to be able to affect any change until we start being honest with ourselves and each other.” —  Saira Rao

About Saira Rao, Co-Founder, Race2Dinner

Saira Rao is the co-founder of Race2Dinner, New York Times Bestselling co-author of White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How To Do Better and co-subject and Executive Producer of the documentary Deconstructing Karen.

Saira grew up in Richmond, Virginia, the daughter of Indian immigrants. For forty years, she wasted her precious time aspiring to be white and accepted by dominant white society, a futile task for anyone not born with white skin.  Several years ago, Saira began the painful process of dismantling her own internalized oppression.  Saira is a lawyer-by-training, a former congressional candidate, a published novelist and an entrepreneur.

Connect with Saira Rao





White Women: Everything You Already Know About Your Own Racism and How To Do Better: 

Documentary: Deconstructing Karen

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