Reverse-racism doesn’t justify racism. But you know what? Racism doesn’t justify reverse-racism. It’s all a childish game that is beside the point. We are dealing with the symptoms, not the disease. But one blogger keeps the playground fight going by telling us reverse racism “isn’t a real thing”. In fact,
In order to be racist, you need to possess two traits. The first is privilege: A structural, institutional, and social advantage. White people occupy positions of racial privilege, even when they are disadvantaged in other ways…. Furthermore, you also have to have power: the ability, backed up by society, to be a strong social influencer, with greater leeway when it comes to what you do, where, and how.
That’s a huge redefinition of racism that is no more useful than its current misuse. You can eliminate all the rationalizations and BS arguments by keeping it simple: Racism is words and actions caused or biased by the defining of people by the appearance of label or “race”, or more broadly, ethnicity.
Yes, there is a real difference between the majority/minority or oppressor/oppressed, and “reverse racism” is another dumb playing of the race card to justify such conditions. And so it political correctness. The article borders on explicit racism, though forgivable because it is not overtly hateful as much as myopic via the very sort of bias of which she accuses others.
None of it has anything to do with the basic human condition of how we identify ourselves and judge others. Racism is racism no matter who the target is, period. And that is why this sort of thinking will only (ironically and sadly) perpetuate racism like all the other unhelpful political and philosophical distractions.
We Must Ask – Is Racism Only Structural?
She argues racism is “structural”, not “personal”. I would suggest that’s like saying a person can’t be religious, only a church. I agree with the individual arguments within the article, especially when talking about INSTITUTIONALIZED racism. And I wholeheartedly agree with her feelings about “reverse racism” being used as a buzzword (that in itself, when used that way, is actually another form of racism).
I get her point. I get her angst. And YES, I understand the social and historical context of “Black People in America” far more than most, to the point I admit I cannot truly appreciate living in that “other America”. Like I argued elsewhere, “Driving While Black” is a real thing … just like the reverse racism where the odds of being hired by merit in some government jobs is playing against pretty high odds if you’re not a Handicapped Black-Mexican-Jewish Lesbian.
But my point is that it’s not always legitimate OR illegitimate to pull either the race card or the reverse-racism card.
The question is not of simplifying the definition, but oversimplifying reality. To say that one race or another is oppressed in America is a huge, sweeping statement. In some neighborhoods, being “White” is a dangerous thing. Being non-Mormon in Utah makes you a second-class citizen, while being Mormon in another state may be quite the trial.
In any given situation, ANYONE can be the victim of racism. Using all kinds of arguments to say it’s a “Black thing” is a denial of the experiences of countless others. Even the recently popularized concept of White Privilege exists, but going around using it as an excuse or slur is also racism.
We make plenty of laws giving special designation to some people under this or that label, all under the banner of fixing inequity or protecting people’s civil rights. (This itself is heinous because it assumes people have to be assigned such things externally rather than the pure intent of equality under law regardless of distinction, but that’s a whole other discussion.) However, when laws are crafted to give some advantage to a minority or special interest demographic, the roles are reversed and then the “majority” — by the blogger’s own argument — the legitimate wielder of the accusation of racism.
Trying to undo past injustices or economic disparity, etc., by giving advantage (reparative, compensative, equalizing, whatever) to an oppressed group is racism. We just abhor calling it what it is. We assume by extensive, charged connotation that racism is flatly evil (instead of a descriptive distinction to which ethics can be applied), so we avoid using it where it really fits. Such things like Affirmative Action are understandable, defensible, and forgivable. But they are still arguably wrong, and most certainly are nothing more than perpetual band aid that allow us to shirk our responsibility for a lasting cure.
Even if it didn’t breed contempt for others paying for their father’s sins, it reinforces the notion that we can make justification for treating people according to the color of their skin instead of the content of their character. Where does it end?
Note: I’m revisiting this as I write my new book, “Some White Guy’s Book”. I’ve softened and become more tolerant of this new paradigm, but still think it needs to be challenged.