Kiese and Tressie both wrote for, to, and about those of us who carry Blackness with us everywhere we go. The thin white woman beside me folds her legs all the way up and gathers her knees to her chest. Her elbow is in my way and it nearly pokes me. “I’m so tiny,” […]
How White Womens’ Tears Threaten Black Existence
White women are weaponizing their emotions and femininity to assert their power over BIPOC. This isn’t new, but it is dangerous.
If you’ve been paying attention to anything in the news lately, then you’ve seen the onslaught of headlines about racialized violence. Across the country, Black people are facing a continuous waves of anti-Blackness at the hands of white folks calling the police on them, simply for existing in public.
While this may read as a new way for white people to assume their racism onto Black people, it actually isn’t anything new at all. #ExistingWhileBlack illustrates the history of anti-Blackness that reigns throughout U.S. history and reminds us of the ways that white people — and particularly, white women — are evolving their white fragility to keep anti-Black racism thriving.
To call the police on Black people, no matter the reasoning, is violent in and of itself simply because the act cannot be separated from historical context. In the last decade alone, we’ve seen how police brutality has led to the murders of Black people across all genders and ages throughout the country. We’ve seen documentation of how systemic and systematic anti-Blackness is, and how it permeates Black communities at all economic levels.
Most recently, in Oakland, California, a white woman called the police on a Black family having a cookout in a public park because they weren’t in a “grilling approved section” of the park. A Starbucks store manager in Philadelphia called the police on two Black men waiting for a friend. A mother and daughter in Brooklyn were accused of shoplifting at a vintage store in Williamsburg, where they were also handcuffed and searched by police. A group of Black filmmakers (including Bob Marley’s granddaughter) had the police were called on her and a group of fellow Black filmmakers checking out of an AirBnB because she didn’t smile to a white neighbor who claimed that they were robbers. A Yale student called campus police on another Yale grad student for napping in her common room. The list goes on and on but these seemingly random instances reinforce the assertion of dominance that white people are fighting to keep hold of over Black people.
Beginning long before Carolyn Bryant falsely accused Emmett Till of flirting with her, the danger of this trend reflects the assertion of dominance that white people want to have over Black people. There is a mirroring of the Jim Crow laws that would lead to the death of Black folks simply for failing to respond (or respond in a way that white people believed you should). What we’re seeing now, in this recent wave of racialized acts of violence, is an attempt to continue policing Black people moving through public spaces. Because under white supremacy, the last thing that should exist are Black people capable of living their lives freely from white people.
It’s should be especially noted that white women are leading as the culprits behind many of these incidents. White women are weaponizing their positions as both white people and women, and this is nothing new, it is simply a different iteration of the same manipulation tactics we’ve seen for decades. Thinking specifically of the woman in Oakland, who burst into tears when police arrived and gave a false account about the family she bothered, reminds me of the social construct of assuming that white women are always fragile, and how they use that to harm and silence BIPOC with their tears.
Yet white folks remain embarrassingly obtuse to this simply because the status quo gives them the false notion that whiteness is superior. There is no separating the history of police brutality and racialized trauma within the Black community from the present. For a white person to willingly participate in this, or to simply see these instances as unrelated and an exaggeration, is to further gaslight and belittle the very real pain and violence that the we have to deal with every day.
So simply put, white folks: stop calling the police on us.
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