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    Weapon of Mass Destruction

    Throughout history, African-Americans have battled racism on various fronts. One insidious and persistent weapon in the arsenal of prejudice is the weaponization of tears, whereby individuals use false claims of victimhood and emotional distress to manipulate narratives, perpetuate stereotypes, and undermine the legitimate concerns of African Americans.

    Historical Roots

    The weaponization of tears against African Americans can be traced back to the dark days of slavery. Enslaved individuals who dared to resist or escape were often depicted as threats, and their owners would feign fear or distress to elicit sympathy and justify violence, reinforcing the myth of white superiority.

    D.W. Griffith’s silent film “The Birth of a Nation” is a highly controversial piece of American cinema that promoted racial stereotypes and the glorification of the Ku Klux Klan. The film portrayed African American men as sexual predators targeting white women. By exploiting these fears and portraying white women as helpless victims, the film effectively weaponized the emotions of its viewers, contributing to racial tensions and reinforcing racist stereotypes during its time.

    During the lynching era in the late 19th and 20th centuries, white supremacists regularly employed the weaponization of tears to further harm the African-American community. False allegations of sexual misconduct were used as a pretext for lynching, with white women’s tears weaponized to incite violence and perpetuate racial terror. For example, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American boy from Chicago, was brutally murdered in Mississippi after allegedly whistling at a white woman. His killers, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were acquitted by an all-white jury despite overwhelming evidence. The defense employed the weaponization of tears by portraying Till as a predator and Bryant’s wife as a helpless victim, contributing to the miscarriage of justice in this case.

    Contemporary Life

    The weaponization of tears remains a pervasive issue in contemporary America. Specific examples include:

    · The Central Park Birdwatching Incident (2020): In this high-profile incident, a white woman falsely accused a Black birdwatcher of threatening her in New York City’s Central Park. She dialed 911, emphasizing her distress and portraying herself as a victim, despite her blatant violation of park rules. Her actions were widely criticized as an attempt to manipulate the situation and incite harm against the African American man.

    · Permit Patty (2018): A white woman in California called the police on an 8-year-old African American girl selling water on a hot day. She claimed the child’s “illegal” vending was disturbing her peace. This incident was captured on video and garnered significant attention for its blatant attempt to weaponize tears to control and intimidate a young African American entrepreneur.

    · BBQ Becky (2018): In Oakland, California, a white woman called the police on a group of African Americans having a barbecue in a public park. She falsely claimed they were violating park rules and posed a threat. Her exaggerated distress during the call was seen as an attempt to manipulate the situation and discriminate against the group.

    Coping with the weaponization of tears or other forms of racial discrimination can be incredibly challenging. Here are some resources and strategies: 

    Mental Health Support: Seek the assistance of mental health professionals, such as therapists, counselors, or psychologists. Many therapists specialize in racial trauma and can provide culturally sensitive care. Consider joining support groups, either in person or online, where you can share experiences and receive support from others who have faced similar challenges.

    Community Organizations: Connect with local or national community organizations dedicated to racial justice and supporting Black individuals. These organizations often provide resources, counseling services, and a sense of community.

    Legal Assistance: If you believe you have faced racial discrimination or injustice, seek legal advice and support from organizations specializing in civil rights and racial justice.

    Self-Care and Coping Strategies: Engage in self-care practices, such as mindfulness, meditation, and exercise, to help manage stress and emotional well-being. Consider journaling to express your feelings and experiences, which can be a therapeutic way to process emotions. Surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and family who can provide emotional support and understanding.

    Education and Advocacy: Empower yourself through education about your rights, the history of racial discrimination, and the social and political context of these issues. Engage in advocacy efforts to address systemic racism and work toward change. Activism can be a powerful way to transform feelings of powerlessness into positive action.

    Books and Literature: Read books and literature written by Black authors that explore racial identity, discrimination, and resilience. Works by authors such as bell hooks, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Audre Lorde can provide valuable insights and validation.

    Cultural and Artistic Expression: Engage in artistic and creative outlets to express your emotions and experiences. Art, music, and writing can be powerful forms of self-expression and healing.

    Coping with the weaponization of tears or other forms of racial discrimination is a personal journey, and it’s essential to find the resources and strategies that resonate with you and best meet your needs. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help and support when needed, as you are not alone in your experiences, and there is a community of people and organizations dedicated to promoting healing and social change.

    Be well and stay unapologetic,

    Dr. Tonya