So about a week ago, I was sitting in class, minding my business, trying to get an education (you know, the usual) and as the discussion about colonialism got more and more heated, the white lady next to me raised the “issue” of reverse racism.
Why do white people want to be oppressed so badly?
I see no reason why a rational adult with full mental capacity could believe that reverse racism is actually a thing. But, since I’m nice, I proceeded to break it down for her.
Racism, (un)like other forms of dehumanisation, is a negative stereotype or belief which is backed by systematic support.
E.g. Black men are lazy.
E.g. Black men are lazy and therefore I won’t hire any black employees.
E.g. Black men are lazy and I’ve convinced all my friends and family of this because they trust my opinions.
E.g. Black men are lazy and because of this I will use my power to ensure that they are less likely to be accepted into top universities and to get hired in management positions and that they are severely disadvantaged when it comes to life opportunities.
From this, it is evident that the golden formula for racism = discrimination + power.
In England where I live and in almost all parts of the ‘Western world’, white people are the dominant group when it comes to access to power, and by extension, they are the only ones who can use said power to discriminate against people in a way that will have a significant impact on the quality of their lives.
Therefore, while it is perfectly plausible that people of color can be prejudiced and/or discriminatory, they cannot be ‘reverse racist.’
Not only is the myth of reverse racism dangerous as it ignores power dynamics within society, it also minimises the true extent of racism by portraying it as something “humans do to each other” rather than an act that is, by large, perpetrated against black people.
I, for one, would love it if black people and other people of colour could be ‘reverse racist.’
You know why?
Because that would mean that we all have equal access to power.