How to make meaningful change
Save the Tears: White Woman's Guide
If you're a white woman who is watching the world burn because of police murder against Black people, and you don't know what to do, I wrote you a guide.
1️⃣ Buy and read some anti-racist texts. And sit with the discomfort. Maybe invite a few other white women to be in a book club with you 📌
I curated this collection just for you. 😘
- An Indigenous People's History of the United States, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
- How To Be Antiracist, Ibram X Kendi
- How To Be Less Stupid About Race, Crystal M Fleming
- Killing Rage, bell hooks
- So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
- The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
- They Were Her Property, Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
- White Tears, Brown Scars, Ruby Hamad
- Why I'm No Longer Talking About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge (UK-centric)
If you want to understand how tech is complicit in perpetuating systems of oppression:
- Algorithms of Oppression, Safiya Noble
- Rage Inside The Machine, Rob Smith
- Technically Wrong, Sara Wachter-Boettcher
You'll notice I didn't link them. I encourage you to do some work to support someone other than the world's first trillionaire. Find a local bookstore that might still be able to deliver/do curbside pickup. Look on IndieBound or Bookshop if you truly don't have local options or are stuck. Part of doing this work is not always taking the first, most convenient option.
I previously had included texts White Fragility (Robin DiAngelo) and Invisible Women (Caroline Criado-Pérez). Both of those texts have been shown to do harm to the communities they purport to support. If you'd like to read more why, here are a couple of perspectives:
What’s Missing From “White Fragility” > Caroline Criado-Perez is a TERF
I regret that I included them to begin with but I don't want to erase the mistake and perpetuate harm. I apologise for any harm that I caused Black folks and trans (and especially Black trans folks) by including them in these lists. I ask that if you choose to read these texts anyway, to examine them critically through an anti-racist, pro-Black, pro-trans perspective.
2️⃣ Reflect upon all of the women in your life 📌
- Examine your friend group. Who attends your brunches? Who was in your wedding party?
- What traits set you each apart from each other?
- Who are the women of colour in your life? Who are the queer women in your life? Who are the disabled women in your life? Who are the trans women in your life?
- If they are your friends, how do those aspects of their identities come up?
- Do they talk to you about the oppression they face?
- Why or why not?
- If they do, what has been your reaction?
3️⃣ Consider your weapons 📌
White women's weapons are microaggressions and a direct line to the police murder hotline.
- Compliments: When you complimented another woman, what is your expectation? How have your compliments been racialised? Have you complimented a Black woman's hair and asked to touch it? Have you complimented an Asian woman's youthful skin? Have you referred to a Black/brown woman friend as exotic? Have you started or ended your compliments with "OMG I hate you." Have your compliments toward disabled women been infantilising? Have you perpetuated Westernised white beauty standards?
- Tears: Have you ever cried to get your way? Who paid for it?
- The Police: You have a nation state that will murder for your tears and your fear, real or not. Do you consider the weight of this power?
- Aggressive/Bitchy/Not-A-Team-Player: Have you ever used these words to describe another woman colleague? Reflect on their identity and how those terms carry weight.
4️⃣ Examine how you leave Black and brown women behind, particularly those who are disabled, trans, immigrants, and queer 📌
White women experience oppression from the patriarchical aspects of the kyriarchy. But you simultaneously benefit from the white supremacist aspects of it. If you're abled, cis, and straight, you experience those benefits as well. Throughout history, every white feminist movement has explicitly excluded Black and brown women. Your idols like Susan B Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were racists.
Resist the urge to:
- Question/deny our lived experiences. Listen.
- Ask us if it's our race or our gender. It's both, we can't necessarily parse out which parts are affected by what.
- Centre yourself. Society already forces us to centre everything around your feelings.
- Erase us from the narrative; if you're speaking about reproductive health and you don't mention how Black women are at much higher risk or issues, or when you speak about the gender pay wage gap, don't ignore the fact that Latinx and Black women make far less than white and Asian women; if you're speaking about assault, don't forget to mention that Indigenous women and girls are at the highest risk.
- Step over us on the way to the top. Employing traditionally masculine behaviours will intrinsically mean employing white supremacist behaviours; using your power over us is aligning with the privilege of your whiteness, not the solidarity of our womanness.
- Participate in all white women panels/events/publications/etc. If you do, then at least insist on getting it called White Women in Tech or STEM because it is a falsehood to call it a Women's Event. Not All Women, Karen.
- Be a nasty TERF and deny the womanhood of trans women. Trans women are real women.
On your own time, reflect upon your privileges within the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. Embrace your privileges with regards to race, gender expression, physical ability, neurological ability, orientation, socioeconomic status, generational wealth, nationality. How are you using those privileges?
5️⃣ Collect your white women friends 📌
White men can be called out by everyone because they possess the most power with regards to race and gender. White women, however, cannot be called out by everyone because you have less power than white men. So, the best person to call you out is other white women.
If you see a white woman friend or colleague engaging in weaponised behaviour (see above), do something about it. You are in the highest position of privilege to speak up without ramifications, particularly as far as the police state is concerned. (Consider how white women are taught to cry their way out of police engagements.)
Never allow yourself to stay comfortable. Comfort is complicity. Discomfort means change. Sit with it.