When white people cry foul it is often people of colour who suffer. White tears have a potency that silence racial minorities. Ruby Hamad’s new book White Tears / Brown Scars blows open the inconvenient truth that when it comes to race, white entitlement is too often masked by victimhood.
Throughout settler-colonial history, the bodies of women have served as a battleground. Women of colour were marked as guilty and depraved so that white women––and by extension white society––could claim innocence and virtue for itself. The damsel in distress serves as both absolution for, and denial of, this history of violence in which white society projected its crimes onto people of colour, and punished them ruthlessly. Today, in interactions and conflicts between women, white women are able to lean into their race privilege in order to subdue the latter, marking women of colour as Angry Brown Women, and so ensuring that white society retains its dominance.
White post-colonial society has inherited a legacy of faux victimhood that is used to mask power, and nowhere is this more apparent and effective than in interactions between white women and racialised women. White Tears / Brown Scars deconstructs the meaning of womanhood in the settler-colonial context and looks at how this has been a key weapon for asserting white supremacy.
White Tears / Brown Scars is a confronting reality check for white privilege, exploring what happens when racism and sexism collide.
Meet Ruby in conversation with Zoya Patel.
Tickets: $15 (includes a complimentary glass of wine or juice)
Ruby Hamad is a Lebanese-Syrian journalist and author who was raised in Australia. A former columnist at Fairfax, where she spearheaded the national conversation on intersectionality in feminism, Islamophobia, and racial representation in popular culture, her work has appeared in international mastheads The Guardian, Prospect Magazine, and The New Arab, as well as local outlets Crikey and The Saturday Paper. Some of her articles have been reproduced in US high school textbooks. It was her article for The Guardian, ‘How White Women Use Strategic Tears To Silence Women of Colour’ in May 2018 that inspired the writing of this book.
Zoya Patel is the author of No Country Woman, a memoir of race, religion and feminism, published by Hachette Australia. She founded feminist journal Feminartsy in 2014, following four years as Editor-In-Chief of Lip Magazine. Zoya was Highly Commended in the Scribe Publishing Non-Fiction Prize 2015, was the 2014 recipient of the Anne Edgeworth Young Writers’ Fellowship, and was named the 2015 ACT Young Woman of the Year.