Edward Simon Cruz
For decades, the concept of white superiority has been made abundantly clear to people of color. Racial bias permeates the most basic foundations of our country: from our criminal justice system to corporate America to educational institutions. But who can be racist? And who can be a victim of racism?
Reverse racism is exactly what it sounds like: a game of reversed roles wherein white people proclaim that systemic discrimination affects them just as much as it affects people of other races. Proponents of the ideology complain about affirmative action policies, stereotypes about “white culture,” and the exclusivity of the Black Lives Matter movement. They boast that “all lives matter,” declare that white privilege doesn’t exist, and never fail to remind anyone who’ll listen that they, too, are subject to racial injustice. Frankly, the fundamental reasoning behind reverse racism is flawed, and here’s why:
Racism and prejudice, though used interchangeably, mean different things. Racism is defined as the belief that an individual’s race is equated with particular tendencies or actions. Prejudice, on the other hand, is a preconceived notion that stems from no particular rationale or experience. When white people use the term “reverse racism,” they’re asserting that it is the color of their skin that has impeded their ability to be treated equally in society. In reality, they are complaining about white prejudice: age-old stereotypes like “white people have no culture” or “white people don’t season their food.” It’s stereotypes like these that are manipulated to justify the belief that white people are victims of marginalization. In fact, according to a 2017 poll from NPR, 55 percent of white Americans believe that they are subject to discrimination.
Now, that’s not to say that white people haven’t experienced their own struggles within history. At the same time, believers of reverse racism fail to recognize that racism is intrinsically formulated on the concept of power imbalances. To put it simply, the successes of America that we recognize today stem from a system — a system that took years of oppression, violence, and incarceration to create. Within this system, white exploitation and manipulation have prevented people of color from ever being included within it. The enslavement of African people existed as an indispensable component of American culture for centuries before reform was accepted. Native Americans were torn from their lands and forced into American assimilation schools in the 1800s. Mexican-Americans were victims of both fierce segregation and mob violence on the West Coast, not because they were a danger to society, but because they looked, sounded, and thought differently from their white counterparts.
During these times, white men held all the power— power that stemmed from an ideology that silenced all other races into conformity.
Those who believe in reverse racism also preach the existence of discrimination against white people through the practice of affirmative action. This practice involves favoring or increasing opportunities for individuals belonging to groups that have been previously discriminated against. Believers in reverse racism make the claim that, because they do not belong to a previously discriminated racial group, they are being “left out” and unfairly treated. However, this practice does not call for discrimination against white people. For an action to be discrimination, it would require for said action to be unjust or prejudicial. Considering that affirmative action exists to counter unjust and prejudicial actions against minority or underrepresented groups, this practice is not being used to discriminate against another group. It is clear why white people do not have access to the opportunities that affirmative action offers: white people have never been oppressed as a group because of their race. Therefore, the argument that affirmative action excludes white people is erroneous; those who believe affirmative action is discriminatory seek access to opportunities that were never meant for them in the first place.
Racism oppresses and discriminates against people on the basis of their race. It has become ingrained in our system over the last few centuries. By understanding that white people cannot be subject to it, we can move beyond a simplistic, inaccurate view of racism, understand the actual errors in our system for what they are, and work to fix said errors for the people of color who are truly victims of marginalization.
Picture source: CNN
Leave a Reply