One of the lasting impacts my reading journey from last year's Challenged Books Challenge had on me was an awareness that I need to do more to better educate myself, listen to the voices of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, and to actively work to be anti-racist. Already familiar with the concept that there's nothing quite so dangerous as a white woman's tears, when I ran into a #BookTok recommendation of Ruby Hamad's White Tears/Brown Scars, I knew that I had to read it. Having finished this book, I will unhesitatingly recommend this book to everyone, and state my conviction that it should be required reading for all white women.
Where Stamped provides an overview of the history of racism, White Tears/Brown Scars focuses in on the particular way that the concept of "White Womanhood" has upheld white supremacy and specifically damaged women of color throughout history, and continues to do so today. Hamad does an excellent job of explaining the ways in which white feminism is problematic and only serves to reinforce elements of a colonialist, white supremacist, patriarchal society.
While I was familiar with much of the historical content covered within White Tears/Brown Scars, I came out of reading this book with a stronger awareness of the ways in which white women continue to pose a risk to and cause discomfort for women of color, and I am working to translate that awareness into an active vigilance to minimize harm from my own actions and the actions of those around me (e.g., calling out behavior, habits, and systems that are silencing and diminishing women of color).
The language of the white savior is not one of liberation or sisterhood: it is a language of imperialism. Nothing gives away a White Savior Complex like white women rallying to "save" brown women despite the gruesome history of what "saving" has entailed. White women have to free themselves from the lingering notion that white supremacy has socialized them into--that they know what is best for nonwhite women and their job is to save us from ourselves by turning us into mirror images of them. This must occur before they can even begin to think about their membership in a sisterhood that is capable of freeing all women from what we call patriarchy.
As an aside related to recent news:
I'm sure you are familiar, at least in part, with the news of the leaked majority opinion from the Supreme Court overthrowing Roe v. Wade. I challenge anyone--especially any white woman--responding to this news to pause a moment and really seek out and listen to what Black, Indigenous, and other people of color are saying. In particular, pay attention to the women and to the trans community. Scrolling through social media and watching the news with the increased awareness that I have in part thanks to books like White Tears/Brown Scars, I am seeing in real time how many white women are at best failing to listen to the very valuable advice being given, and at worst are causing harm via their thoughtlessness. Once again, white feminists are failing to be truly intersectional: This is not just an issue of women's reproductive rights; this is an issue that impacts everyone with a uterus, woman or not, and which is intrinsically tied to racism and white supremacy. This is also far from a new fight or a fresh, unforeseen problem; we need to heed the advice of those who have been deeply involved in this and similar issues for years, and to build on the resources already at hand rather than making a slap-dash effort that amounts to little more than a performative act of rage and harms more than it helps.
Elizabeth Wilcox. Writer, Avid Role-Player, Amateur Mixologist. Survivor.