White Tears/Brown Scars

I remember discovering feminism when I was in middle school—thank goodness for the internet—and enthusiastically delving into feminist literature. I began to critically dissect the sexism at play around me, questioning societal norms and rejecting traditional gender expectations. I felt pretty well-versed to speak on feminism, and, a bit arrogant having done some reading as a 16-year-old, figured I knew all there was to know about feminism.

However, I never realized how the feminism I read about in those books failed to consider the female experiences outside of whitehood. The books I read about feminism discussed how messed up it was that women were expected to be conventionally pretty and written off as the frivolous sex, but they never addressed how Black women in the United States face a domestic violence rate far higher than that of white women, or how the mainstream white feminist movement has largely failed to lift the voices of women of color, and in many cases, has actively silenced them.

In November, I read two very amazing feminist works that I highly recommend on this topic. The first is Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall, which focuses on the feminist platform in the United States and how the mainstream movement largely ignores issues that predominantly affect marginalized women (including trans women).

The other book I read, which is the one I would like to discuss today, is White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad. In this book, Hamad looks at women of color on a global scale as she offers historical context for how colonialism disseminated racist ideologies throughout the world and how white women have benefitted from and subsonciously and consciously perpetuated racism and sexism over time up to the present.

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I Wish Racism Never Existed

I wish racism never existed. But it does. So now I have to talk about it.

Because isn’t that the beauty of life? Learning, and growing as a person? Bettering ourselves?

Welcome. I’m glad you’re here. Please read this slowly, and quiet your thoughts. You and I are friends here. Take deep breaths. Unclench your fists, loosen your jaw. Don’t think about counter-arguments while you read my sentences, don’t reply as soon as you read this. Read this twice. But please, just listen. Take another deep breath.

If you take away nothing else from this article, take this: empathy.

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