Reverse Racism Is Not Real This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 15, 2018
White fragility is “a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves … [including] the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation,” according to Dr. Robin DiAngelo, a consultant and trainer on issues of racial and social justice. While in conversation about race, white people often unknowingly display white fragility when they act defensively or aggressively, despite being aware that racism is immoral. White fragility prevents many people from understanding an important concept: reverse racism is not real. Reverse racism is the idea that people of color can be racist toward white people. However, that is simply impossible in today’s society. Certainly, people of color may have prejudices against white people, but racism and prejudice are not interchangeable terms.
Racism is much deeper and more complex than prejudice; it is the systematic oppression of an entire race because of the belief that that race is inferior, whereas prejudice is when you make an assumption about a person because of a certain characteristic. Racism emerged from the notion that the white race is superior to all other races; therefore, people of color may express anger toward white people because of the oppression and discrimination whites have systematically imposed upon their race throughout history and even today. Thus, the resentment that people of color may exhibit toward white people is based on the prejudice that white people are racist, rather than the idea that people of color are superior.
Historically, racism has manifested itself in the forms of slavery, segregation, discrimination, and persecution. Racism is embedded in the very institution of society, preventing people of color from having the ability to oppress white people on the grounds of white privilege. People of color have been treated as subhuman for centuries, which is evidenced through the fact that they were not given – and still do not have – the same rights as white people in regards to voting, education, pay, job opportunity, etc. Until 1865, when the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution was passed, black people were not even viewed or treated as human beings, but rather as property that did not have any rights. And yet this amendment is celebrated by white people as an act of benevolence and acceptance toward the African American race in history, as it technically freed black slaves and outlawed slavery, even though they were denied the status of human beings. Because white people established themselves as the superior race beginning as long ago as the Middle Ages, they have held the most power in society, making it utterly impossible for any other race to oppress them.
Society is ultimately controlled by white culture – this forces other cultures to adapt and conform in turn. People of color do not have the same upper hand in society that white people do, and it is because of this that they cannot be racist to white people. As stated in the 2014 satirical film “Dear White People,” “black people can’t be racist. Prejudiced yes, but not racist. Racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race. Black people can’t be racists since [they] don’t benefit from such a system.”

The argument that reverse racism is real in itself demonstrates the unwavering determination of white people to deny their own privilege – the fact that many believe the U.S. to be “post-racial,” meaning that racism is no longer a problem in society, proves this. Without the acknowledgment of privilege, racism will remain rooted in the foundation of society. Examples of this privilege can be found everywhere. As a whole, white people do not experience things such as “housing or job discrimination, police brutality, poverty, or incarceration at the level that black people do,” writes Zeba Blay in a Huffington Post article “4 ‘Reverse Racism’ Myths That Need to Stop.” Even within the justice system, “white people benefit from privilege and power when they aren’t arrested for drug crimes at disproportionate rates, while black people experience racism when they’re arrested, and sentenced, for the same crimes,” writes S.E. Smith in the article “7 Reasons Why Reverse Racism Doesn’t Exist.” According to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, “African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.” Furthermore, the NAACP states that “if African Americans and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%.”
It has been said that privilege is analogous to a classroom with three rows of desks in which the teacher places a wastebasket at the front of the room and promises to reward students who can throw a crumpled piece of paper into it while remaining in their seats. The students in the front row have an obvious advantage since they are much closer to the wastebasket. Those in the back rows have to overcome the obstacle of people in the front row. Their vision is obstructed, and their chances of being successful are decreased. The students in the front row represent white people in society, while the students in the rows behind them are representative of people of color.

In order for one to be racist, privilege and power are key. These are primarily possessed by white people in twenty-first century society. White people have notoriously enslaved, exploited, oppressed, and discriminated against people of color. For centuries, the countries of Africa were imperialized and plundered of their resources, people, and cultures, all in the name of white supremacy. This very institution and cycle of abuse based on a demented delusion of superiority remains prominent today. White people as a whole are not oppressed. All white people possess significant privilege that puts them at an advantage in society, and it is because of this that is it impossible for white people to ever experience racism.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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ScienceSpirit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
today at 7:57 pm
This article really enlightened me. Previously I had conflated racism and prejudice, a mistake that many people make when they say "that's so racist" about prejudiced but relatively innocuous comments often unrelated to race. I do think, however, that the frustration and upset that some white people have attributed to "reverse racism" needs to be acknowledged and understood, especially if the emotions arise from fallacies and misconception, since it is part of our humanness to make such errors... (more »)
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