cover image White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color

White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color

Ruby Hamad. Catapult, $16.95 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-948226-74-5

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. (Oct.)