Reverse racism is a phenomenon in which discrimination, sometimes officially sanctioned, against a dominant or formerly dominant racial or other group representative of the majority in a particular society takes place, for a variety of reasons, often initially as an attempt at redressing past wrongs.
This definition exists as an honest fear in the hearts of many white Americans. Among the passionate pleas for justice seen on the Facebook New Feeds of every Black Lives Matter believer is a litter of commentary defending #ALLLIVESMATTER or condemning Pro Black Movements for reverse racism. I see this rhetoric most commonly used by my fellow White Americans, and their intentions are pure. They are truly concerned. They don’t want to be in a position of oppression. Who can blame them? We all learned about slavery in school. We all learned about Jim Crow laws. Most of us know that racism is bad, even those who practice it. White people are looking out for their best interests when they speak of reverse racism. They would hate to be hated, to be lynched, denied the right to vote, removed from their native land and assimilated to another culture and religion. White people can definitely acknowledge, and do when they display these fears, that racism is something they don’t want to be the subject of.
It is interesting that those white Americans defend this rhetoric for fear of their own lives, but do not follow their rhetoric long enough to acknowledge what that fear means for those currently suffering institutionalized racism. This kind of rhetoric is often displayed as an attempt at equality, inclusion and empathy.
Sometimes, reverse racism is spoken about by blatantly racist White Americans. On my feed, however, it is often said by people who genuinely want to protect everyone’s rights. It is an attempt to find an equal middle ground instead of allowing the scales to turn the opposite direction. However, it is a perspective that fails to see the reality all Americans share–regardless of the cry in favor of ALL lives. It does not consider, fully, the level to which the scales are currently uneven. It does not consider the severity of our inequality.
Reverse racism is completely hypothetical in America. One could potentially argue that individuals can all be racist, but I don’t think a Black person disliking the general race that historically oppresses them is racism. I think its common sense. (People don’t want to be oppressed. If you don’t think oppression is a big deal, you’ve probably never suffered it.) Regardless, the racism that the Black Lives Matter movement is addressing is not singularly individualized. It is promoted by individual acts of racism, but BLM is fighting institutionalized racism–and that is the root source which leads to all other forms of racism.
All racism comes from institutionalized stereotypes, injustices and inequalities.
The American political system was built for white Americans–male to be exact. Our founding fathers may have been the progressives of their time, but they were still men of their time. We should remember that. They participated in the enslavement of human beings, they disrespected their wives, they used their children as trophies. These things were common practice back then and considered acceptable, but are now known to be various severities of abuse and oppression. (We’ve learned things!) But when they said “All men are created equal”, they were talking about themselves. They were not talking about the slaves they kept. They were not talking about their wives or their mistresses or their whores or their daughters. (Remember, all men were created equal, and slaves were considered inferior beings.)
That being said, I am not faulting the founding fathers entirely for their own ignorance, but they left a lot to be discovered. They left a lot to be learned and improved upon. Its up to us to continue making those improvements through education and awareness. Our education system has done a decent job at incorporating the updated, educated (though admittedly still white biased) perspective on Slavery and Civil Rights injustices. However, we stop hearing about racism very suddenly. In our history books, we learn that the 1960s activists basically cured our country of racism against Black Americans. We might hear a thing or two about gang violence, and perhaps nowadays more teachers are talking about institutionalized and internalized racism. We mostly move on to learning about the events which lead us to the current war on Terror (and leave American racism in the shadow of institutionalized Islamophobia).
Racism was not cured in the 1960s.
The KKK is a hate group with a right to existence. There are still people living in our country who proudly admit that they dislike people of color and defend it as a Freedom of Speech. They do this, and try to say that it has no negative or systemic affect on others and does not further oppress people. Then they criticize the BLM movement for instilling white hatred or reversing racism.
Their age-old hatred has very little basis other than what was passed down to them as children, passed down from their parents, and their parents before them, originating from justifications for slavery–things that made people not feel guilty over enslaving their fellow humans. Untrue excuses to enslave human beings like their supposed inferiority, improving the conditions and lives of indigenous Africans, improving the economy (for white people).
Racist White Americans defend these ideas so they can shout off their hating opinions and then refuse to acknowledge that their opinions might be contributing to micro aggression and the oppression of others. How does it make sense that their blatantly racist rhetoric would not negatively or systemically affect the whole of society, but Pro Black Lives movements would have the potential to completely reverse racism off of Black Americans and fully oppress White Americans? It doesn’t make sense.
Reverse Racism doesn’t make sense in America.
Reversed racism is a completely hypothetical situation. For it to be a true concern–to the extent that White lives were in as much danger as Black lives are daily–many drastic, institutionalized changes would have to take place. Also, for it to be truly reversed, White people would have to come from recent ancestors who had suffered the trials of Slavery–which is very likely to never happen in America because we are smarter that that now. We have learned some things–slavery and the holocaust were tragically horrible and should never be repeated.
Reverse racism is not even close to happening.
It is not a concern. Anyone using reverse racism as a reason to silence pro black movements is stopping the progress of our nation based on a hypothetical fear of their own oppression. This viewpoint, though it is an attempt to be empathetic and equal, fails to consider the severity of our system’s inequalities. People who use this rhetoric are ignorant of the social injustices and inequalities that marginalized minority groups suffer on a daily basis.
That is called Privilege.
Privilege is a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
If you do not understand the fears, hatred, undermining, stereotyping, and oppression suffered by People of Color, you are privileged. You are being granted an immunity that is only available to you because you are not a POC. Your immunity is that you don’t experience that fear and micro-aggression on a daily basis. You didn’t do anything extra to earn that immunity. You were born into it, the same way that a Black American is born into their oppression.
Privilege is an unfortunate and uncomfortable thing to acknowledge, but we all must go through the process of acknowledging our privilege. If we don’t, we continue to promote ideas which hold back the progress toward equality–ideas like reverse racism.
Reverse racism is a fear of the privileged. The fear dies when you acknowledge your privilege and begin to stand on the side of social justice and true equality. The best way we can do this is to listen when our Black brothers and sisters speak about their experience, hold back and internally check our institutionalized judgments, and empathize. From there, we can take action. This conversation is not about us, and we need to stop making it about us.
This is not a war on white people, it is a fight for social justice and equality.
Institutionalized prejudice is built into our psyches from the time we are small. It is ingrained in our system and exists in ever institution in America– from the largest government, to small local government, to corporations, to small communities, to churches, to the family model, to the individual psyche. The idea of reverse racism was planted in your mind through systemic stereotypes in your upbringing, your education, and your media exposure. The only way to free yourself from it is empathizing with those in a position of less privilege than yourself.
Black Lives Matter.