So picture this, you’re sat in a room and everyone’s talking about race issues. Everything’s going fine, everyone’s discussing how racism sucks and how it is still affecting people of colour on a day to day basis and then it happens. Your heart drops, your mind goes blank and you are faced with that one white person talking about how racism also effects them, and that one experience of prejudice they faced means they also have faced hardships.
Is this where I say discrimination doesn’t affect everyone – of course not, everyone has faced some sort of discrimination in their lives. However for a white person to experience racism and to sing it in a room full of POC is another case entirely. It’s a weird one, alongside #notallwhitepeople, it gives me a brain fart personally.
Now, let us debunk why the white people singing about reverse racism are in fact part of the problem. Before we even debunk the sociological reason it’s a stupid phrase to use synonymously with the struggles of people of colour let me point out one small thing:
The reverse of racism is a lack of racism. If you claim reverse racism for an experience where you were discriminated against you’re singing loudly that you haven’t experienced racism. If your mind is blown please stop reading, and just focus on that, because honestly, it baffles me that this has never been brought up.
Now let’s get back to explaining why reverse racism is a myth and not, in fact, a real thing.
Firstly when the reverse racism claimers talk about their experiences, they are confusing it with prejudice, racism is “between individuals, on an interpersonal level, and is embedded in organizations and institutions through their policies, procedures and practices.” So it exists beyond an individual level, that doesn’t mean we’re excluding cases where people use slurs and horrific phrases. However it is created in a society that creates a whole system of beliefs to put down certain groups of people, and it goes beyond one person, it’s in education, systems of governance and our daily lives.
In layman’s terms, it exists in our society, to claim you’ve experienced racism is to claim you’ve been systematically put down. Whether it’s the school system being designed to put people of colour in the worst schools leading to them not getting the best education of opportunities, or the world of employment favouring CV’s of those with ‘less ethnic sounding names’.
Robin Diangelo had an interview with USA today and worded this issue better than I ever could, she said:
“It’s not that white people don’t face barriers. What I’m saying is you have not faced this one [racism]. And not facing this one has helped you navigate your other ones.”
“This was a struggle with my students [who said], ‘Well, I’m queer. I’m Jewish. I have a disability. I’m not privileged.’ … I think [they need to hear it] from somebody who shared their identity. … I have moved people forward who were raised poor or working class and could not own racial privilege by sharing how I came to understand mine. … I did it by sharing my own experience as someone who grew up in poverty. While I have struggled with a deep sense of class shame and the message that I was ‘less than,’ I still always knew that I was white and that made me ‘better than’ poor people of color. In fact, being white has helped me escape poverty. No one looks at me and assumes I don’t belong in academia, but my colleagues of color can’t say the same. The question that white people need to ask ourselves is not if we were shaped by the forces of racism, but how.”
This is inherently why white people can not claim reverse racism as an actual thing. Yes, they experience prejudice, but across the world, they are seen as the set standard of beauty, intelligence, wealth and are respected everywhere.
To experience is on the level of POC is to experience having hundreds of years of colonial history and systems put in place to make it so that people of colour are disadvantaged from the moment they are born.
I could continue writing about this topic forever but I’ll stop here. TLDR: Reverse Racism isn’t a thing.