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white women’s tears

White women’s tears is one of the main ways White American women have of derailing any talk of racism, particularly their own racism. It is part of a more general pattern of white people making their feelings matter more than the truth – something you see too in the tone argument, for example.

White women’s tears can come about in different ways, but here is the classic scene:

  1. A white woman says something racist.
  2. A black woman points it out. (It could be any person of colour but it works best against black women for reasons given below.)
  3. The white woman says she is not racist and starts crying.
  4. For added effect the white woman can run out of the room.
  5. Other whites, particularly white men, come to the aid and comfort not of the wronged black woman but of the racist white woman!
  6. The black woman, the wronged party, is made to seem like the mean one in the eyes of whites.
  7. The white woman continues to believe she is not racist.

Tables turned! It works so well that it is hard not to see the tears as a cheap trick.

This is more than just a woman using tears to get her way. It is built on a set of White American ideas about race, listed here in no particular order:

  • It works best when these two stereotypes can be applied:
    • The Sapphire stereotype – black women as mean, angry and disagreeable
    • The Pure White Woman stereotype – white women as these special, delicate creatures who need to be protected at all costs. It is what drives the Missing White Woman Syndrome – and, in the old days, lynchings.
  • The r-word: to be called a “racist”, however gently and indirectly, is a terrible, upsetting thing for white people – far worse than, you know, being a racist.
  • White people and their feelings are the centre of the known universe.
  • Hearts of stone: meanwhile whites seem to have a very, very hard time putting themselves in the shoes of people of colour.
  • Moral blindness: white people think they are Basically Good, therefore if someone points out something bad about them it must be out of hatred.
  • White solidarity: whites are afraid to stand up against racism, particularly when they are with other whites. Also, they do not like it when you call other whites racists – they seem to take it personally for some reason.

All these things work together to help create the scene laid out above. It is why it works best for young, good-looking white women and why black women’s tears have nowhere the same effect in a white setting.

In my own experience White American women are by far the hardest to talk to about racism. Even if you get past all their defences and they believe what you are saying, they act like they are going to cry. So you either stop or you push on and are made to look mean and heartless.

White women, the delicate creatures that they are, attend a lynching in Indiana, 1930.

See also:

907 Responses

  1. on Sat Jun 12th 2010 at 06:44:55 Menelik Charles

    As I’ve written before, Abagond, the cornerstone of white supremacy IS the white female. White women’s tears are effectively a ‘call to arms’ to noble white men to put some ‘uppity Negro’ in his place, or to comfort them from the masculine wrath of the angry Black female.

    Jesus, has your country got some issues to work through or what????

    Menelik Charles
    London England

    Liked by 1 person


  2. Never heard of this term before but I get the point nonetheless.

    I think part of the issue is possibly related to how teh world is constructed.

    Its a man’s world as James Brown sung.

    So when you read the history books you are in essence reading White countries, societies, men, but not White women per se in the role of racism/White Supremacy etc.

    Some of the more Black radical scholars and also People of Colour feminists too would suggest that even without doubt that the White female is oppressed. Her fight is in essence to gain equality with her ‘White male counterpart’ in the system of ‘White Supremacy’, rather than to tear that system, with the White males therein, to allow iin males who have been designated as ‘Non-White’, and also other females who are designated as Non-White

    So it is in this respect the White women has not been blamed specifically for any of the atrocities of the 500 years, and I am sure that some do not see themselves as part of that since history is a male construct.

    So in some senses it is ‘natural’ some White females may have certain ‘defence mechanism’ when dealing with this issue.

    Hope this makes sense – typed whilst in a rush…

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  3. Great post!! They are far from these delicate creatures they’re made out to be. White women’s tears are a more cunning way of garnering support that has nothing whatsoever to do with being hurt, or being the wronged party. It’s attention seeking and self centred and panders to a gullible world that laps it up. Frankly I’m sick of it, worth mentioning that this is a phenomenon that isn’t limited to racism.
    I’ve seen the water works come out over something as small as jumping a queue. Best to let the poor lass get served first than listen to her sniffling at the back because you see, being told to do the right thing is mean and hurts her feelings!
    Pathetic.
    SMDH

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  4. on Sat Jun 12th 2010 at 08:04:57 Menelik Charles

    @ J,

    you know, you really should visit this site and see the alleged extent to which white women are oppressed. the facts will, hopefully, open your eyes!

    http://theobsidianfiles.wordpress.com/

    Thanks

    Menelik Charles
    London England

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  5. You know what? I always thought white men are the most racist as a group, but now I am not so sure. White women might be worse, simply because of the fact they see themselves as oppressed* and it’s harder for them to realize they have privilege.

    *I’m not saying women (or all colours) aren’t oppressed. Sexism is still going strong in the world, but that doesn’t excuse anyone’s racism.

    As for tears, I do believe many women learned to get what they want using sympathy (and, more than anything, males feeling uncomfortable) by crying. On the other hand, crying is healthy and I don’t think people should try not to cry.

    But. If you are doing bad things, princess, expect others to criticize you and point where you did wrong, or even *gasp* get angry with you. That is ok. We all know you’re taught to always smile and be polite and nice, but princess, politeness is not a priority- being a decent human being is! I know it’s more lovely to be polite than rude- but politeness is just a shell, it hides your true feelings, which can be really ugly and rotten and well, basically wrong.

    It is your fault- not others’, princess- if they don’t play by these “rules”, if they don’t cover their true feelings under the shell of smiling and politeness. And yes, I know you believe we should all get along, and I know you believe you’d listen what they have to say… Only if they say it more nicely. But guess what, girl? You’re not making these rules, and other people don’t exist just so you can have your precious feelings intact and in short, you are not the center of the world, or a race discussion. It’s not about you girl and whether you felt hurt and insulted by someone pointing at your mistakes.

    PS-All being said, I must admit I did cry a few times when it comes to racism. Some images on Jim Crow museum and some posts here did make me cry.

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  6. @SW6:

    the photo of the lynching is so surreal to me. it’s so hard for me to accept that it’s a photograph of an actual moment that REALLY happened. the people all look so chill, so relaxed. they have utterly no concern that they are being photographed!

    The picture of the people especially the two women with their slight smiles watching the displayed bodies of those murdered young men is sickening.

    my poor brothers to end up strange fruit. God rest their souls.

    It’s very sad. RIP. 😦

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  7. @ Mira:

    PS-All being said, I must admit I did cry a few times when it comes to racism. Some images on Jim Crow museum and some posts here did make me cry.

    I was a young child when the movie Roots came out. My parents were immigrants and while they knew basic English, they actually learned English by watching tv. So many scenes stood out in my mind which made me cry: the brutal whipping of the main character, the forced separation of the main character from his daughter, the rape of his daughter, and the horrible mistreatment of the slaves. My young self didn’t know what was going on, but I knew what happened in that movie was wrong.

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  8. I posted my story on here about this young girl (she happened to be white) who called my full lips the N-word in the Women with the most beautiful lips post.

    I have full lips and I’ve been told it was my best feature. I was one of the few visible minorities in my school and I was teased because of my lips and mostly my eyes.

    In hs, I had one particularly nasty girl, a classmate, insult my lips when I applied lipstick in fro