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  • NYS Writers Institute

Ruby Hamad, author of White Tears/Brown Scars

We reached out to Australian journalist Ruby Hamad, author of the explosive bestseller White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color (2020).

The book grew out of an article in The Guardian-- "How white women use strategic tears to silence women of colour" -- that went viral in 2018 and became a global flashpoint for discussions of white feminism and racism. Among other subjects, the book examines white and non-white female images presented in The Hunger Games, The Handmaid's Tale, Modern Family, Wonder Woman, and the viral "BBQ Becky" video, as well as the public personae of Carmen Miranda, Pocahontas, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar.

Former UAlbany faculty member Ibram X. Kendi called the book, "powerful and provocative."

Publishers Weekly named it a "Best Book of 2020," and said, "Journalist Hamad debuts with a searing and wide-ranging condemnation of 'strategic White Womanhood' and 'the historical debasement of women of color' in Western culture.... Skillfully blending autobiography, history, and cultural criticism, Hamad makes a devastating case against white women’s complicity in systemic racism. This insistent and incisive call for change belongs in the contemporary feminist canon."

White Tears/Brown Scars was also named a "Best Book of 2020" by Cosmopolitan, Harper's Bazaar and Kirkus Reviews.

You can purchase the book from the independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza at

Born in Lebanon and raised in Australia, Ruby Hamad is a PhD candidate in media studies and post-colonial studies at University of New South Wales, where she is researching media criticism and coverage of Arabs and the Middle East. She normally spends half the year in New York City, but she has been prevented by the pandemic from returning to the U.S.

What are you most looking forward to in your personal life in the coming year?

Crossing my fingers that the US gets on top of Covid-19 as I’d really love to return. I was due to move back to the states in August this year.

What is your biggest hope for America in 2021?

See question one! I recently read that up to 1 in 24 Americans has contracted the virus and that is a staggering number. I hope the recovery starts soon.

What's the most important thing we can learn from the pandemic?

Probably the speed with which everything in our lives can change. This is both alarming and encouraging.

What activity are you most looking forward to enjoying after pandemic restrictions are lifted?

I’m hoping to return to New York and visit the Russian-Turkish Baths on E10th Street. One of my favourite parts of my favourite city and I am crossing my fingers they pull through this and re-open one day soon.

Is there anything on Earth that you find unexpectedly beautiful?

Giant spiderwebs after an early morning Spring shower. If this seems specific, it’s because I was greeted by one not long ago blocking my way between the front door and gate. It felt quite awful to destroy it just so I could start my day.

What did you most enjoy about writing White Tears/Brown Scars?

I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it as the material was pretty challenging and harrowing in parts. But I did feel a great sense of achievement from the way I was able to provide a bigger, global picture to a topic – race relations – that is often approached more specifically, as my book spans multiple continents as well as racial groups (not to mention multiple centuries!).

What idea, subject or field are you most looking forward to exploring in 2021?

I’m looking forward to finishing my PhD which looks at how womanhood was constructed in the Islamic State ‘caliphate’ and why this was important to the group’s attempts to build a new state. I’m also starting to think about a new book on a new intellectual preoccupation of mine, which is the concept of psychological projection and how this manifests at both an individual and societal level.

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