Thursday, March 12, 2015

Nonexistent Negative

In terrible arguments on the internet lately I have been seeing the words 'reverse racism' used far too frequently.  It is a phrase generally associated with white people who complain about how everyone is being awful to them because they are white - usually because they are being really racist.

These arguments could be ended much of the time by simply defining one word properly:  Racism.  It means one of two things depending on who you talk to.  It can either mean a person being discriminated against because of their race in an individual incident or it can mean widespread, systemic discrimination based on race.

The first thing is something everybody gets to experience.  There are definitely times in my life that people have given me the stinkeye because I am white or treated me unpleasantly.

The second thing is something white people don't experience.  I don't feel like cops are going to treat me like a dangerous criminal just because of the colour of my skin.  I don't have the sense that I will be thought of as less reliable or less capable because of race and I doubt I ever will.  Systemic, constant racial discrimination is not a thing white people deal with.

So now we come to reverse racism.  If racism means a single incident, then how can reverse racism be a thing?  It is just racism against a white person under that definition!  No reverse about it.  If racism means systemic oppression then white people absolutely do not experience 'reverse racism'.  We still dominate government, business, and other leadership positions.  We still are treated better by law enforcement, in job interviews, and in casual interactions.  We are, as a group, vastly more wealthy than people of colour.

Reverse racism isn't a real thing.  It is a made up concept for people who don't want to recognize the advantages they have based on their race.

That doesn't mean that white people all have it easy, nor that they never experience racial discrimination.  They just don't experience it the same way people of colour do and that fact is indisputable and supported by a mountain of evidence.  We should of course have sympathy for anyone in difficulty regardless of race but we must recognize that systemic racism exists and then do our best to prevent it.

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