The videos are a stark reminder of the way white people weaponise crocodile tears to accuse and vilify Black people
Over the last year, TikTok has seen its fair share of inventive, dangerous, and potentially disastrous trends. The video sharing app has also become home to a number of divisive tropes – for example, the revival of the British ‘chav’ stereotype – which have caused uproar and controversy online. The latest ‘trend’ to spark widespread criticism sees white women pretending to cry, before suddenly stopping and smiling.
The sound which inspired the ‘trend’ includes the line, “Turn it off”, after which the music cuts. When it comes back in again, the crying woman immediately stops before smirking at the camera. Some of the videos are accompanied by captions about which star signs can “flip emotions”. Others are intended as an acting challenge.
While they may have innocuous intentions, the videos are being condemned as a stark reminder of the way white women weaponise fake tears to accuse and vilify Black people.
In a video stitched with one of the fake crying clips, writer Imani Barbarin responds to the ‘trend’. “I don’t have anything to say except we’ve been knew,” she says. “We know under a system of white supremacy who is the most dangerous. This is not a trend… this is just our lives.”
Quote tweeting Barbarin’s video, author Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé adds: “The way white women weaponise their tears is the scariest, most dangerous thing ever. I don’t think a lot of white women understand that a lot of Black people are most scared of them than anyone else.” In an asterisk point at the end of the tweet, Àbíké-Íyímídé speculates: “Then again, maybe there is an understanding, and that is also weaponised.”
Examples of white women weaponising their false victimhood against Black people span centuries. In 1995, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Black boy, was lynched in Mississippi after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store. Just last year, Amy Cooper called the police on Christian Cooper, a Black man who was bird-watching in Central Park, after falsely accusing him of threatening her.
Speaking to the Metro in January, academic Alanah Mortlock said white women’s tears are “attached to the idea of femininity” and the “notion that white women need protection”. By fake crying, these women are not only silencing Black people but “avoiding accountability and gaining sympathy”.
See some of the TikTok videos and their responses below.
The way white women weaponise their tears is the scariest, most dangerous thing ever.— Faridah // ACE OF SPADES OUT NOW ♠️ (@faridahlikestea) June 16, 2021
I don’t think a lot of white women understand* that a lot of Black people are most scared of them than anyone else.
** then again maybe there is an understanding, and that is also weaponised. https://t.co/31wgwr5RpN