Since my last post about how reverse racism cannot and does not exist, I have received a lot of feedback on my blog. Overall, I’ve come to the conclusion that white people get really upset when you write about racism. The comments I received ranged from hateful and uninformed to constructive, and I’d like to address some of them here. Some comments were purely hate and not really saying anything of relevance, so I won’t be spending any time on those.
Firstly, I’d like to clarify the difference between individual racism vs. systematic racism. This was a constructive point that several people brought up. People of color experience racism on both an individual and systematic level. Individual racism includes blatant, intentional racism and unintentional racism and microaggressions. Systematic racism involves institutionalized discrimination that permeates our criminal justice system, healthcare, education, and more. White people, on the other hand, do not experience systematic and institutionalized racism. We are not oppressed in this way because we live in white supremacist society. White is the default race, the norm, while people of color are consistently devalued. While it is technically possible for white people to experience individual racism, it is highly unlikely and the consequences are not as serious. My point is that white people simply do not experience racism as people of color do, because white people (in America) do not have the same history of oppression.
A couple of people also brought up the fact the Irish people were once enslaved in America. While this is true, it doesn’t change the fact the oppression of African Americans is unique and is still relevant today. Irish people are no longer discriminated against – they are classified as white and therefore privileged. Black people, on the other hand, still face racism on a daily basis. It’s just not the same.
I also had many white people complain that I was “pointing fingers” and that they had never been given anything in their life that they didn’t earn with hard work! Let me be clear: pointing fingers was exactly what I was doing. I was pointing fingers at ignorant white people who refuse to acknowledge racism and white privilege. I’m calling you out on your shit. The fact that white males honestly believe they don’t have it easier than the rest of us is frankly hilarious. This is a refusal to examine one’s privilege and consider structural inequality. Many people became very defensive when they are called out on things like this, and if you are one of those people, I’ll ask you to consider why that is. Why is it that you feel like you are being attacked? My guess is that it’s uncomfortable to face your privilege and acknowledge that you are part of racist and sexist system that works in your favor but oppresses others.
When it comes to examining your privilege, it can be difficult but it is necessary. As white people, the least we can do is try not to be shitty to people of color. Part of this process involves simply thinking about the fact that you are accorded privileges because of your skin color. Think about the fact that your race is invisible and you are therefore unmarked and “normal.” Think about the fact that you don’t face oppression on a daily basis because of your skin color. Most importantly: do not play the victim and act as if you are somehow oppressed the way people of color are due to your race. Please, for the love of God.