Claiming so damages anti-racism efforts.
Reverse racism is often used by white people when minorities call out racism and discrimination. Basically it is used in an attempt to prove that minorities aren’t the only ones that are disadvantaged or targeted because of race. But this is a bogus claim.
There are aspects of racism, such as ignorance, bigotry, prejudice, etc., that often get incorrectly labeled as racism.There is a difference, and that difference used to be understood. Not so much, anymore.Sure, white people can and do experience prejudice from minorities who are ignorant, but this is not racism, and it is definitely not reverse-racism. It is prejudice, which is an aspect of racism, but alone it is not racist.
Racism is far more complex than words, because it operates on both an individual and institutional level, and is a system by which the dominant race benefits from the oppression of minorities, whether they want to or not. This is sometimes referred to as ‘White Privilege.’
Racism is privilege with power. It is a Structurally, institutionally, and socially advantageous existence. White privilege has nothing to do with how much money you have, how big your house is, etc. Even disadvantaged white people benefit racist attitudes.
Usually when ‘reverse racism’ is claimed, it is because a white person or a group of white people feel they have somehow been slighted by a minority or group of minorities. This can be anything from being called a “cracker,” losing a job opportunity to a minority, to being genuinely pissed off that there are spaces meant only for minorities, particularly black people, such as BET, or Black History Month, etc. The belief that these and other things like it are racists shows a profound misunderstanding of what racism is.
Racism and prejudice are not the same thing.
However, there is a long legacy of racism in the United States, and the result is that minorities have a much more difficult time getting access to quality health care, affordable housing, stabilized employment at a living wage, or not getting stuck in the revolving door justice system. One a side note, affordable housing doesn’t include project housing. Yes, it is affordable, but would YOU want to be colonized like that? Yes, it is being colonized, and that is something that the black community has been dealing with for hundreds of years. While we’re discussing it, Medicaid doesn’t count as quality health care. Anyone who has been on Medicaid knows this. If it needs to be explained to you, then there you have your privilege. Don’t even get me started on the justice system statistic.
These examples are what is referred to as systematic or institutional racism, and it is a thing. There is no legitimate ‘White History Month‘ because all of American History is ‘White History Month.’ There doesn’t exist now, nor has there ever existed a set of laws on any municipal level, all the way up to the Federal Government, that has been put into effect that systematically oppresses white people. Because of this, alone, reverse racism does not exist.
Black people have been enslaved and segregated on a scale that is incomparable to any other people group in the United States, and segregation is still a thing. Do white people deal with housing and job discrimination, verified police brutality, high levels of poverty and incarceration, etc.? Of course. But nowhere near the same scale, and this is the reality of what racism is.
And if you think that when you hear angry words used, or when protests become unruly, is reverse racism, consider just how long black people and other minorities have been dealing with institutional and structural racism. Imagine how weary and impatient you would be if put in the same place. There is a reason why we often hear angry words, but you know what? That’s also not reverse racism. You know what is? Demanding that black people and other minorities ‘tone it down’ or not be taken seriously. An angry white man approaches a business screaming about not getting good service and he’s awarded a refund and compensation coupon. An angry black man does the same thing and he’s awarded a pair of chrome bracelets and a free ride to jail.
Even wealthy and successful minorities – especially black people – are viewed with suspect as to how they accumulated their wealth. And their success is often believed to have been at the expense of white people, which is highly ironic. Look at what happened when Barack Obama was elected. Ignorant people tried ten ways to Sunday to explain why his Presidency was illegitimate, and much of those explanations were either directly racist or had racist overtones. His entire presidency was suspect in the way that many people thought he would inject his race into his presidency to the detriment of white people, of whom many to this day state that Obama made racism worse, or that Obama himself is racist. This is so ingrained that the people who believe he was the worst president in history – even when facts proclaim the contrary – can’t come up with one legitimate and verifiable reason why.
So, when I hear white people accuse black people and other marginalized minorities of being racist, my reaction runs anywhere from anger to disgust to disappointment. It shows a complete lack of taking the time to study racism, and acquire a real understanding of what racism, and its effects on communities. It shows an unwillingness to look within to find a solution, rather than perpetuate the same systematic racism that has been plaguing us for centuries. We, as white people, need to a much better job and not only not being racist, but to support any and all initiatives that seek to end institutional racism, as well as examining our own prejudices.
We live in a global community. It’s time we acted like it.