MOTFL Episode 29: “White Lady Tears” Conversations Between Friends Series #1

In this episode, the founders of Mothers on the Frontline discuss grief, racial privilege, policing, and the performativity of emotion.

Families and communities are grieving right now. We are grieving the deaths of over 100,000 Americans to Covid-19, which has disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities. We are grieving ongoing and countless losses of African-American Women, Men, and non-binary folk, children to elders, to institutional racism, particularly by the very structures that should be protecting them, including the police. Many parents are grieving the loss of the veneer of safety they once felt for themselves and their black and brown children in the community and in their very homes.

Many white allies see the collective grief in the Black community and the pain in the eyes of their Black friends. They want to be helpful, but often fail to recognize their own emotional privilege. We examine how the centering and privileging of white emotion can result in dysfunctional empathy, as well as the weaponization of white lady tears.  

Today’s conversation challenges us to think about how the expression of emotion is learned and responded to very differently between White and Black women and how white emotional privilege in turn affects social narratives, resulting in particular interactions between children, police, and schools which are detrimental to children’s mental health.

If you are interested in learning more about some of the topics mentioned in this podcast we suggest the following:

For information on addressing racism and racist thinking in your personal relationships: Seed the Way “Interrupting Bias: Calling In vs. Calling Out”

A good guide on ACEs and Toxic Stress: Harvard University: Center on the Developing Child “ACEs and Toxic Stress: Frequently Asked Questions”

Mentioned in the Podcast:
DiAngelo, Robin J., White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism. United States, Beacon Press, 2018.
National Domestic Workers Alliance

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