White women’s tears: a deadly weapon

Zaynab Kouatli, Opinion Editor

A trend that is going viral on Tik Tok called the “Turn it Off Challenge” shows many predominantly white women recording themselves crying and then quickly shifting their wails to a sneer. Many Black creators have begun duetting these videos and discussing the very real threat of how white women tears are used as a deadly weapon against Black people and people of color.  

Another viral video on Tik Tok shows this concept in action but this time it is really used to vilify a Black woman. Abigail Elphick is seen in Victoria Secret physically striking Ijeoma Ukenta, a Black Muslim woman. After Elphick assaults Ukenta, she lays on the ground screaming, crying, flailing her legs and falsely accused the victim of attacking her.  

A Black man was simply birdwatching when he encountered Amy Cooper at Central Park. He asked Cooper to leash her dog but instead she called the cops crying and said “There is an African American man—I am in Central Park—he is recording me and threatening myself and my dog. Please send the cops immediately!” 

Most likely the most famous example of a white women using her emotions to manipulate the public into believing that a person of color in dangerous is the case of Emit Till. Carolyn Bryant accused Till of flirting with her when he attempted to buy bubblegum outside of the Bryant’s family store. 

 Later in life, Bryant admitted that she fabricated the story, specifically about the accusations of sexual advancements in which she said, “that part is not true.” Till was only 14 years old. Bryant’s lies caused a child who had his entire life ahead of him to be abducted, beaten and Lynched by her husband and brother-in-law.  

It is important to note that white tears and white women tears are concepts that are inherently unique to each other. White tears shed when a white person is confronted with the nasty evidence of racism. Instead of reflecting on that truth or taking accountability for their actions, they will weaponize their emotional reaction to displace the attention of the person who is suffering (usually a person of color) and places it on themselves for pity.  

White women tears are similar in using emotions as a weapon but are different because it is a lot more about impact. The genuine tribulations of people of color stand no chance against the accusations of a white damsel in distress. White women are aware that they fit into this trope, and they will use it to get what they want. 

White women will quickly get into character, eyes red and tears streaming because they know the “damsel in distress” narrative is prioritized under a culture that is rooted in white supremacy. Someone will always push away the true victims (people of color) to defend and save the damsel. White tears are about white fragility but what makes white women tears so dangerous is that it is about vengeance.   

Social media has created an archetype to associate white women who weaponize their victimhood. She stares intensely at the camera with a menacing smile that haunts my dreams. I know you fear her, she never tips and demands to speak to the manager. Her name is. . . Karen. *SCREAMS* 

Amy Cooper is known as the Central Park Karen. There are numerous videos showing Karens exploiting their victimhood when things do not go their way. But how is this productive? For people who are white it can aid in showing a pattern and lead to conversations about privilege and white fragility. The Karen meme also holds white people accountable in a way that can’t be escaped by shedding tears. I do not condone bullying, but the Karen meme is not that. I rather think of it as an umbrella shielding people of color from the tears that white women pour.