I keep writing about white women’s fragility and dog whistle aggression because they keep proving my point
White women's violence is predictable.
This essay contains discussions of sexual assault and racist violence
A Black woman was wrongfully terminated this week. Lisa Benson Cooper is an Emmy award-winning broadcast journalist in Kansas City, Missouri. After working at the same company for fourteen years, she was fired when two white women coworkers complained to HR about an article that Cooper had shared on her private Facebook page. The article in question: “How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour” by Ruby Hamad. How fucking ironic.
In this piece, Hamad writes, astutely:
“Whether angry or calm, shouting or pleading, we [women of color] are still perceived as the aggressors.
Likewise, white women are equally aware their race privileges them as surely as ours condemns us. In this context, their tearful displays are a form of emotional and psychological violence that reinforce the very system of white dominance that many white women claim to oppose.”
Because white women are viewed as more valuable and more worthy of love, protection, and thoughtfulness in the social imagination, their feelings are continually prioritized and their narratives believed over others. Pushing back against racist systems always proves to be a risk for us, and a huge part of that risk is white women’s particular brand of white fragility.
In my writing, I am consistently challenging the institutions of both white womanhood and white feminism, and how they are/have been used as agents of white supremacy, and this has left me vulnerable to harassment and threats. I’m still receiving hateful messages for “White women hate losing to Black women” and “White Women In Robes”, many months after their publishing.
Whether it’s about the minstrelsy of Miley Cyrus, tasteless jokes from Amy Schumer about big Black dicks, how “feminist triumph” in action films has long been reserved for white women, or how Sofia Coppola not only relies on but leans into the presumed innocence of white women for her remake of The Beguiled, white women don’t like it when I call them out on their shit.
I’m certain I will get the same kind of response to this essay, because white women’s violence is predictable. I keep writing about it, because it keeps happening.
Whenever Black women speak up about the racialized sexism and misogyny we experience, they scramble to remind us of how oppressed they are, too. Whenever we publicly celebrate our Blackness, Black womanhood, or our rich variety of melanated complexions, they demand to be included, too.
No wonder they so easily colonized Tarana Burke’s movement for sexual violence survivors. “Me too” is all they can seem to say when we talk about things that don’t concern them. I just think it’s funny how they rarely say “me too” when we talk about how white supremacy gets perpetuated.
I spend a lot of time thinking about how lies and accusations from white women have significantly impacted Black people’s lived experiences and informed race relations in the U.S. “Black Wall Street” in Tulsa, Oklahoma was raided and firebombed after a white girl’s lie—she claimed she was “criminally assaulted” by a Black man who accidentally stepped on her toe and hundreds of Black people were subsequently murdered. The Scottsboro Boys served time for a crime they didn’t commit because white women lied, maintaining for years that the group of teenagers had sexually assaulted them on a train. Emmett Till was lynched because a white woman lied, and we all know that story.
Last year’s “revelation” that the white woman who accused Emmett Till of harassment lied was not a revelation for those of us who know all too well the damage white women have both directly and indirectly caused us and the racist violence they have been responsible for.
Emmett Till’s lying accuser is neither the first nor the last to knowingly deploy her image as a delicate white woman in need of sanctuary as a weapon. Her narcissistic evil is not exceptional in any way.
White womanhood and how white women weaponize it are integral parts of the system of white supremacy. This is a historical fact. There is a long record of white women throwing Black people under the bus for their own gain, satisfaction, and in the name of maintaining the status quo. We’re no strangers to this, and it’s not a distant phenomenon that is relegated to the times of chattel slavery and Jim Crow. No, this is present and damning.
The white women whose actions got Cooper fired demonstrate an utter lack of ability to see beyond their whiteness, as well as their refusal to let go of the white supremacy that always protects them. Rather than be reflective of how they treat the people of color around them, they reinforced exactly what Hamad’s article observes about white women. When they are unable to deal with their own discomfort, they lash out and hurt others, because they know they can. They know how their white womanhood will serve them.
White women are fully aware of their pedestal, and they have no intentions of removing themselves from it or challenging the ideologies that put them there in the first place. They push back against us every time we address it, and yet, they keeping proving our fucking point.