Definition of reverse racism: A phenomenon in which discrimination, sometimes officially sanctioned, against a dominant or formerly dominant racial or other group representative of the majority in a particular society takes place, for a variety of reasons, often initially as an attempt at redressing past wrongs.
My views and reasoning about this topic are not absolute – I do not think reverse racism is real, I am still researching and learning about this but this is my current stance on the subject. Recently, I have come to realise how complex ‘racism’ really is, it is not as simple as it seems to be – it goes beyond the definition which includes semantics, social constructs and more. Race scholars Howard Winant and Michael Omi’s way of defining racism is explained very well and is something that I can understand as well as agree with; that race “creates or reproduces structures of domination based on essentialist categories of race.” Racism is a structure of domination based on race. The term reflects and reproduces a hierarchy of racial categories. The Oxford English dictionary defines prejudice as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” Quite simply, it is a pre-judgement that one levies of another that is not based on reality.
When it comes to the debate of racism, the importance of semantics comes into place. Overall, the different aspects of racism , such as bigotry, ignorance and in particular, prejudice have lead to different ideas of what racism really is. Instead of the idea of ‘reverse racism,’ the white majority can encounter prejudice, yet not specifically racism. Ethnic minorities can have ignorant, backwards thoughts regarding the white individual, and also other non-white races; Racism is far more complex than simple name calling or hate speech based on race. Racism portrays a system of disadvantage based on an individual’s race. At its core, racism is a framework in which the prevailing race benefits from the mistreatment of others (whether they need to, or not,) ethnic minorities do not benefit from this – It is systematic.
We do not live in a society where a racial group has equal power, status and opportunity (this is factual), this supports the idea that we are currently living in a white supremacist society but that’s another sub-topic to be discussed for the future. The white majority have never experienced slavery, colonisation or segregation the same way other ethnic minority groups have in past and currently today; they do not face job discrimination, police brutality, poverty, or detainment at the same level as ethnic minorities as well. This is not to say that they do not encounter some of these aspects of discrimination at all, just not on the same scale. Yet, that is the truth of racism and my understanding of it
Returning to semantics, a few individuals have a tendency to simplify racism as one group disliking another, and think “racist” and “prejudice” are compatible. In any case, racism is an idea that operates on both an individual and institutional level. The white majority possess positions of racial benefit, even when they are disadvantaged in other ways. Today, we are still living with the legacies of imperialism: For instance, 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. This reflects a racialised power imbalance in the justice system. It’s about the privilege and power of white offenders (less likely to be racially profiled, more likely to have strong legal representation, more likely to be able to talk police officers out of an arrest) and the lack of social status for black offenders. Something that I’m struggling to understand regarding this topic is understanding the fine line between racism and prejudice if there is any.
However, the expression ‘reverse racism,’ in itself is damaging and risky; it destroys the very substance of the civil rights movement and the motivation behind its creation – it trivialises what Malcolm X, MLK, BPP etc. were fighting for. This happens in two ways: Firstly, the expression suggests that one group or certain groups are capable of racism, which evidently, as we all know, is not true. Having a heritage of certain ethnicity does not make you any more susceptible to a type of prejudice. Secondly, and this is the most important variable. Reverse racism sets a perilous precedent since reverse racism empowers vengeance-seeking for its supporters, coincidentally or by design, this implies that their prejudice is defended on the grounds that the ‘other side’ is more prejudice and subsequently ‘deserve it.’
Was the point of the civil rights movement to make someone pay for racism or was the goal to get rid of racism and unjust prejudice? Hatred is everywhere and within everyone. You want to get rid of if you have to start with yourself first – Fact.
Diversity is not characterised by how many different skin colours and ethnicities you can stuff into one room. It is defined by looking at people one at a time and determining their worth by their personalities, their talents, their words, their character and , most importantly, what they do with all of it.