One of the most important relationships in racial justice is that between European American women and African American women. If we could heal this partnership, what would be possible? To do that requires a reckoning...
How do white women use their power? Often it is subtle, appearing as weakness and fragility. However, historically and to this day, a white woman in distress triggers a powerful reaction of sympathy and protection, especially when its in the context of an interaction with African Americans. Think Birth of a Nation, Scottsboro Boys, Emmett Till, and on and on. Literally, Black people got killed when a white woman cried. More recently, people have been pointing out that those tears in "diversity workshops" are often an unconscious way for white women to resist owning their part in white domination.
But there's another side to this.
What if you're a white women who cries while standing up for racial justice?
What about white women who cry for their friends, children and partners of color?
Must those tears be shed privately?
Can those tears be present without pulling the attention of the group away from racial justice?
What happens to the movement if we make all tears "fragile"?
I got a chance to discuss this topic with my friend Lisa Graustein who is a racial justice educator and co-facilitates Beyond Diversity 101 intensives with Niyonu Spann. Lisa holds European American, Queer, woman and Quaker identities. She has spent most of her adult life working with young people and is one of the people I trust.