Kirkus Reviews QR Code
WHITE TEARS/BROWN SCARS by Ruby Hamad Kirkus Star


How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color

by Ruby Hamad

Pub Date: Oct. 6th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-948226-74-5
Publisher: Catapult

An exhaustive look at how White women perpetuate White supremacy at the expense of women of color.

Journalist Hamad picks up where her 2018 Guardian Australia article left off, delving into why White women’s comfort is prioritized and their tears “weaponized” to further marginalize women of color. “When challenged by a woman of color,” she writes, “a White woman will often lean into her racial privilege to turn the tables and accuse the other woman of hurting, attacking, or bullying her. This process almost always siphons the sympathy and support of any onlookers to the apparently distressed White woman, helping her avoid any accountability that may be due and leaving the woman of color out in the cold, often with no realistic option—particularly if it is a workplace interaction—but to accept blame and apologize.” Whether responding to indignities such as White women petting their hair or to loss of career opportunities, women of color are treated as aggressors when they challenge bigotry. The author painstakingly documents how, historically and contemporarily, White women function both as “damsels in distress” and as defenders of White supremacy. From slavery and lynching to forced Indigenous child removals, White women have been “co-conspirators” with White men in racism and violence, often under the guise of protecting White womanhood. With scholarly but highly engaging prose, Hamad details White women’s roles in oppression across continents, a much-needed history lesson for those inclined to reduce racism to individual behavior. The author clearly examines how this legacy of centuries of racial violence and White settler colonialism plays out today in the lives of Black, Asian, Latina, Indian, Muslim, Arab, and Indigenous women from around the world, told through their collective geopolitical histories and personal anecdotes. For readers truly interested in dismantling White supremacy, this is a must-read.

An extraordinary book for anyone who wishes to pay more than lip service to truly inclusive, intersectional feminism.