athening’s reads #7

i read this book – and a few others – for woman’s history month.

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

synopsis (from goodreads)

Taking us from the slave era, when white women fought in court to keep their slaves, through the centuries of colonialism, when they offered a soft face for brutal tactics, to the modern workplace, White Tears/Brown Scars tells a charged story of white women’s active participation in campaigns of oppression. It offers a long overdue validation of the experiences of women of color.

Discussing subjects as varied as The Hunger Games, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the viral “BBQ Becky” video, and 19th century lynchings of Mexicans in the American Southwest, Ruby Hamad undertakes a new investigation of gender and race. She shows how the division between innocent white women and racialized, sexualized women of color was created, and why this division is crucial to confront.

Along the way are revelatory responses to questions such as: Why are white men not troubled by sexual assault of women? With rigor and precision, Hamad builds a powerful argument about the legacy of white superiority we are socialized in, a reality we must apprehend in order to fight.


“This weaponization of White Womanhood continues to be the centerpiece of an arsenal used to maintain the status quo and punish anyone who dares challenge it.”

This book gives us a historical and cultural background to how white feminism has harmed women of colour. It is so insightful and comprehensive and has allowed me to understand how all these systems – colonialism, patriarchy – have come together to continuously repress WOC. It shows how white women have always been complicit in enabling white supremacy to continue its ‘reign’ with their white feminism ideas.

Our feminism has to be intersectional and this book gives us many examples and anecdotes on why it has to be this way. White Tears/ Brown Scars will definitely make white women uncomfortable as it forces them to acknowledge their white privilege and use it to help people who have been marginalised.

Living in a country with a Chinese majority, where Chinese privilege exist, it allows me to confront my own privilege and reflect on how race and ethnicity has caused this racial wealth gap in my country. The fact that we were a former British colony has influenced the way we see people of different colour, where white people are highly placed on a pedestal here, while migrant workers – who are usually from Bangladesh and India – are always seen as ‘dangerous’ or ‘kidnappers’. Colonialism may be a thing of the past, but its effect is still felt worldwide till this day.