Dear white people: Reverse racism is not a thing

Because apparently, this bears repeating.

Reverse racism is not a thing. It does not exist. If it’s not already obvious why, let’s talk about the basics of structural inequality and hierarchy. In our society (currently and historically), people of color are systematically devalued. This devaluation results in institutionalized discrimination, aka institutionalized racism. Racism pervades our justice system, prison system, health system, education system etc. Racism also occurs on the individual level, whether intended or unintended. Sometimes people are hateful, other times they are just ignorant. The point is, people of color are systematically oppressed due to the color of their skin. White people, on the other hand, are not. We’re just. not.

Which brings me to white privilege. White people are privileged in ways that people of color are not because our race is “invisible” and “normal.” The best example, in my opinion, is the fact that white people do not have to think about their skin color on a daily basis. People of color, on the other hand, are constantly reminded of their skin color because they deal with oppression every day. The fact that I don’t even have to think about my skin color (unless I choose to) is a privilege. Simple as that. Other examples of white privilege include:

– I can count on seeing my race represented in just about any television show, commercial, or movie

-I will not be stopped and frisked on the street due to my skin color

-I will not be followed around in a store because of my skin color

-My intelligence will not be discounted because of my skin color

-I will not be arrested and thrown in jail because of my skin color

-I can ignore the fact that racism even exists

All of these things are privileges. Privileges that I did not earn, but was born with. If you are white, you have these privileges too. That white people can ignore that racism even exists is a tremendous luxury. Now, this is not to imply that white cannot have difficult lives. Of course, we can. But our problems are not a result of our skin color.  As a woman, I have to deal with sexism and gender inequality. But I am also white, middle class, and cisgender. Intersectionality is everything. And although I have personal struggles (i.e. losing my mother to cancer), this does not negate my white privilege. Just because life is hard for some white people, it does not mean that racism doesn’t exist, or that reverse racism does.

As a white person, you are not oppressed because of your skin color. Just because individual people may say that they “hate white people,” that does not make you oppressed.  You are constantly being affirmed by our culture and afforded privileges you did not earn due to your whiteness. People of color, on the other hand, deal with inequality on a daily basis and despite their individual strengths and ambitions, cannot escape the institutionalized racism that dominates American society (especially if they are poor and/or women). And let’s be real: the chances of someone hating you because you’re white are slim to none. They might hate you because you’re racist or ignorant, but that’s not because you are white. It’s because you’re an ignorant asshat.

When I think about slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, and the current state of inequality in America, the idea of “reverse racism” is laughable. White people do not have the history of enslavement and discrimination that people of color do, and therefore cannot be oppressed as a result of race. I really need white people to reevaluate and stop for a minute to listen to people of color. Just stop talking, and listen. Listen to the people who actually experience racism and stop pretending that you are oppressed for being white. Please and thank you.

*If you still need convincing, see –> How To Be A ‘Reverse-Racist’: An Actual Step by Step List For Oppressing White People for a satirical account of why reverse racism cannot and does not exist.

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2 Comments

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  1. I enjoyed this piece, but I disagree with you. You mention that racism occurs at an individual level, but then you do not explore how this form of racism can, or cannot, be directed at white people. You also seem to conflate racism and oppression. To me, they are two separate things, though they are often present at the same time. Thanks for the piece. I’m planning on writing my own on the same topic very shortly, so I look forward to exchanging some more ideas on this. Cheers!

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