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“Reverse Racism” Does Not Exist

“White people can experience discrimination in many ways, and it’s not okay. Racism just isn’t one of them.”

Systems of oppression like racism are not designed to work in reverse. Check out this short video from The Root.


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins-Jones

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I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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3 Responses

  1. I”m really torn about this. I would say racism exists toward people of color by people who were the dominant group (anglos) historically, and still persists. But unfortunately there is racism within groups such as when a black person tells another black person they are ‘not black enough’ or a black person tells a pale skin white person they are ‘too white’ or a white person tells a black person they can’t be white even if they are half-white. So there are like varying shades of racism and prejudice. I learned that when its directed to a white person it’s not racism it’s prejudice and I agree most of the time that’s true as racism is more of a ‘I judge you by the color of your skin as a society that holds you back’ whereas incidents of prejudice are not racism en mass. I get what is being said and mostly agree but I do think for example if a black person is mistreated and grows to hate white people and then tells a white person they are ugly because they are white and he hates them because they are white, that is more than prejudice, it’s hating someone for their race which is racism. I recognize he is only doing that because of oppression so I suppose that’s why people say no it’s not racism it’s prejudice because he was taught to hate white people by their actions but what if that wasn’t why he hated white people what if he just did? Wouldn’t that be as racist as a white person who just hates black people just because? I think that would be racism either way. No doubt there is MORE racism toward black people and people of color than toward anglos although I think it will change as people of color become the norm and the dominant voice and hopefully it will start to lessen everywhere, but I do think there’s been instances of technically reverse-racism although it should always be pointed out that true racism is by the dominant group that is oppressing the other. Even in South Africa where there are many cases of hate toward the white there by black people, you could argue they only hate them because they invaded their country (Africa) and oppressed them so I would say that is not reverse racism. Anyway it’s hard because people aren’t taught this stuff and they need to be so they can be aware of what their actions provoke. Good post.

    • Racism isn’t designed to work in reverse. It is designed for the sole purpose of asserting that white people are superior backed by created conditions in the form of systems like education, healthcare, housing, law enforcement, and others that would make it so. What you’re describing with the conflict between black people is horizontal hostility, and possibly some internalized oppression, which still serves to remind them of their lack of value in relation to their proximity to whiteness. That’s not something black people started. That’s the result of the influence of white supremacy.

      One of the huge roadblocks I encounter when talking about racism with white people has been their tendency to view racism as only individual acts of meanness and not as a set of institutionalized practices that uplift them at the expense of people of color.

      Staying at an individual level can create a false sense of comfort and blamelessness that leads white people to think… “See, a black person was mean to me once too! They’re just as bad as we are. There’s racism on both sides.” Which is far from the truth.

      Racism is the prejudice on the part of white people against people of color combined with the social power to impact the life outcomes of people of color because of that prejudice. Even if a black person said that they hate a white person, that anger is not backed by the social power it would take to impact that white person’s life in any substantial way. If a white person says they hate a black person however, that anger and hate is backed by social policy that conspires to limit the trajectory of that black person’s life, or to even take it. It’s not only that white people hate black people, but that hate is also legitimized in how it shows up in health disparities created by lack of access to care, in discriminatory housing practices that contribute to steering and segregation, in the denial of loans for folks of color who have the same credentials as white people, in discriminatory hiring practices, mass incarceration, police brutality and so many other ways.

      White people who are seriously committed to interrupting racism should work to recognize this tendency within themselves so they can stop it when it happens. Implying that reverse-racism exists is literally white supremacy re-asserting itself in the form of denying the realities experienced by people of color. They should commit to increasing their understanding of the systemic ways racism shows up that benefit them at the expense of people of color. In doing so they may discover that because something looks similar on the surface at an individual level, the scales are so deeply unbalanced because white supremacy was designed to perpetuate itself and not to work against itself.

      • Thanks for clarifying. I’m half African and half European but I look really white and I have advantages as such and disadvantages. Anyway I agree with what you’ve said about this being more horizontal hostility. Maybe if education focused more on breaking down errors on thinking more people would understand this. The days of white superiority thinking are at least coming to an end, it’s exciting to think what it will be like in 100 years time.

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