Called “powerful and provocative" by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, author of the New York Times bestselling How to be an Antiracist, this explosive book of history and cultural criticism reveals how white feminism has been used as a weapon of white supremacy and patriarchy deployed against Black and Indigenous women, and women of color.
Taking us from the slave era, when white women fought in court to keep “ownership” of their slaves, through the centuries of colonialism, when they offered a soft face for brutal tactics, to the modern workplace, White Tears/Brown Scars tells a charged story of white women’s active participation in campaigns of oppression. It offers a long overdue validation of the experiences of women of color.
Discussing subjects as varied as The Hunger Games, Alexandria Ocasio–Cortez, the viral BBQ Becky video, and 19th century lynchings of Mexicans in the American Southwest, Ruby Hamad undertakes a new investigation of gender and race. She shows how the division between innocent white women and racialized, sexualized women of color was created, and why this division is crucial to confront.
Along the way, there are revelatory responses to questions like: Why are white men not troubled by sexual assault on women? (See Christine Blasey Ford.) With rigor and precision, Hamad builds a powerful argument about the legacy of white superiority that we are socialized within, a reality that we must apprehend in order to fight.
"A stunning and thorough look at White womanhood that should be required reading for anyone who claims to be an intersectional feminist. Hamad’s controlled urgency makes the book an illuminating and poignant read. Hamad is a purveyor of such bold thinking, the only question is, are we ready to listen?" —Rosa Boshier, The Washington Post
Journalist Hamad debuts with a searing and wide-ranging condemnation of "strategic White Womanhood" and "the historical debasement of women of color" in Western culture. Citing her own experiences as an Arab woman working in the "suffocatingly white Australian media space" and those of other "brown and black women" who have been routinely disbelieved, exoticized, or accused of bullying by white women, Hamad contends that the tears of white women are "a weapon that prevents people of color from being able to assert themselves or to effectively challenge white racism and alter the fundamental inequalities built into the system." She analyzes cultural archetypes, including "the lascivious black Jezebel" and "the submissive China Doll," that inhibit women of color, and compares the actions of "BBQ Beckys" who call the police on Black people for noncrimes to the lynching of Black men for "perceived transgressions against the virtuous bodies of white women." Hamad also documents the exclusion of Black women from the suffrage movement and explains why white women's inroads into white male power structures don't benefit women of color. Skillfully blending autobiography, history, and cultural criticism, Hamad makes a devastating case against white women's complicity in systemic racism. This insistent and incisive call for change belongs in the contemporary feminist canon.