December 09, 2013

The myth of reverse racism

Whine Merchants: Privilege, Inequality and the Persistent Myth of White Victimhood

By Tim WiseWhenever these matters are broached, the vast majority of us rush to protest: How dare schools or employers consider race in hiring or admissions. They should be colorblind, we insist, merely admitting or hiring the most qualified! And more to the point, we proclaim, targeting folks of color for opportunities, by definition, means discrimination against us. Such efforts make us the victims, even, on some accounts, treating white people “exactly” like blacks were treated under Jim Crow segregation.

So, yes, it remains the case that even when black folks have college degrees they’re nearly twice as likely as comparable whites to be out of work; and Latinos with degrees are about 50 percent more likely than comparable whites to be out of work; and Asian Americans with degrees are about 40 percent more likely than comparable whites to be out of work. And yes, even whites who claim to have criminal records are more likely to be hired than equally qualified blacks without records, but still, can anti-white lynchings be far behind?

And yes, blacks and Latinos combined only represent about 13 percent of students at the most selective colleges and universities—the only ones that actually practice any kind of real affirmative action for admissions—and there are twice as many whites admitted to elite schools with less-than-average qualifications as there are people of color so admitted, but still, can any rational person doubt that whites will soon be limited to mere token representation at the nation’s best educational institutions?

That such hand-wringing about so-called reverse discrimination reeks of intellectual mendacity should be obvious by now. Despite years of so-called reverse racism, whites remain atop every indicator of social and economic well-being when compared to the African Americans and Latinos who, it is claimed, are displacing us from our perch: employment data, income, net worth; you name it, and we are the ones in better shape without exception.
And:This is why, despite affirmative action—which may well be eradicated (at least so far as higher ed is concerned) by the Supreme Court within the month—white racial advantage remains a real and persistent phenomena in American life, and one with which fair-minded persons should still be prepared to grapple.

To claim that affirmative action not only disproves white privilege, but indeed suggests its opposite—black and brown privilege—as many have argued to me via email exchanges, is to ignore the entire social context within which affirmative action occurs.

It’s like protesting that sick people are privileged, relative to the healthy, because there are no hospitals for the latter.

It’s like complaining that the poor are privileged, relative to the well-off, because no one sets up soup kitchens to serve the affluent; nor does Habitat for Humanity ever show up to build mansions for the rich.

Why Reverse Racism Isn’t Real

By Sara LuckeyI spend a lot of time on the internet. I write in various places on the internet, I interact in lively and active commenting communities at different websites, and I partake in a multitude of online forums that have an ongoing and pretty continuous stream of communication between the contributors. Ya know what I’ve noticed? Any time a PoC starts to talk about their experiences with racism, a white person chimes in to derail the conversation and talk about their own experiences with ‘reverse racism.’ And yes, I’m going to say ‘any time’ and not ‘sometimes’ because I have never once been in an internet dialogue amongst commenters and observed a PoC bring up their experience with real, actual, systemic or overt racism and not encountered a white person trying to make it all about their experiences with perceived racism. Not once. It happens every time. Ya know what else? That shit is tired, played out, and incorrect. So let’s talk about why reverse racism isn’t real and why white people need to let that one go.

Racism exists when prejudice+power combine to form social constructs, legislation and widespread media bias that contribute to the oppression of the rights and liberties of a group of people. Racism is systemic, institutional, and far reaching. It is the prevalence of racism within social structures and institutional norms, along with implicit and explicit enforcement by members of a group, that allows racism to run rampant and unchecked. America is a country seeped in white privilege, and our social structure is built on colonization and forced slave labor that then turned into further systemic and ongoing oppression of PoC. We have a culture that presents whiteness as the norm and all else as ‘other’ or different. White is presented as the beauty ideal, the main face in the media (unless we’re talking about criminals, then PoC get unfairly misrepresented), the standard, the regular. It’s a structural problem that affects the perceptions of jurors in criminal cases, admissions to colleges, funding for public schools, welfare and food stamp programs, the redrawing of district lines that affect where we vote, who we see represented on T.V. and how, what schools people have access to, what neighborhoods people live in, an individual’s shopping experience, access to goods and services; it’s extensive and a part of the fabric that let’s whiteness remain dominant in American culture.
And:Reverse racism isn’t real because we live in a culture that supports and enforces whiteness as the norm and PoC as other. If you experience discrimination, prejudice, or bigotry, it’s valid to be upset about it and want to talk about it. It is not valid to claim that it is reverse racism, and certainly not valid to claim that it is racism on par with anything like the institutionalized racism that PoC will come into contact with. When a white person starts talking about reverse racism, what they’re really doing is derailing a conversation to make it about them. Their white privilege leads them to believe that what they say both matters and needs to be heard and is important and the conversation should stop to focus on their perceived ills. You know what? When somebody is talking about racism they have experienced, that conversation is not all about you, nor should you expect it to be, so stop with the derailing and just listen and learn.

When white people complain about experiencing reverse racism, what they’re really complaining about is losing out on or being denied their already existing privileges. And while it may feel bad to realize your privilege is crumbling and the things you’ve taken for granted can be taken away from you, it is unfair, untrue, and disingenuous to call that experience reverse racism.
Comment:  Don't bother bringing up Obama, Oprah, and various black sports and entertainment figures as if that proves anything. Critics have dismissed these arguments hundreds of times already--for instance, in The Obama/Oprah Myth. Unless you have a new argument, one we haven't heard before, do as Luckey says. Shut up and listen to the real victims of racism.

For more on the subject, see White Students Complain About Race Talk and GOP Claims Racism Ended.


dmarks said...

There is no reverse racism. It is all racism, and it does indeed include instances such as affirmative action denying white people of jobs just due to their skin color.

The final comic, by the way is completely invalid, since it doesn't look at people as individuals, but only generalizes on race.

Downtrodden, poor whites almost outnumber Blacks... a reality ignored in this comic. Rich and upper middle class blacks exist in large numbers, another reality ignored.

dmarks said...

" Shut up and listen to the real victims of racism."

Any individual denied opportunity due to skin color is a victim of real racism. Period...

Anonymous said...

@ Rob, he is the reason no one comes here anymore. You need to ban the little white whiner. I quite posting here years ago and only occasionally look in. Why did you let this racist ruin Blue corn??

Rob said...

So you agree there's no "reverse racism," DMarks? Great! There's just racism: primarily by whites against minorities, perpetuated by centuries of white privilege, reinforced by social structures designed to keep whites in power.

Rob said...

For more answers to your comments, see:

Educating DMarks about systemic racism