Reverse Racism Isn't a Thing

In the midst of the rise of “alt-rights” and a presidential administration that is furiously supported by the KKK, the idea of “reverse racism” has been thrown around in conversations about race and how white people are now somehow - after thousands of years of power - oppressed. How could this be possible when white people still hold the majority in the House, the Senate, the presidency (with our first and only president of color being President Barack Obama) and, generally speaking, all political office? Oh right. It can’t be.

White people also make up less of our prison population than people of color even though they make up a larger part of America’s population, and are represented on every form of media in Hollywood. Despite all of this, somehow, somewhere, there are still people who are convinced that reverse racism is a thing.

Let’s start with the idea racism being “reversed.” Reverse racism would literally translate as the opposite of racism, which wouldn’t be racism, it wouldn’t be anything. There is also a difference between racism and racial prejudice. Racism is systemic, institutional and woven into the very fabric of our country, whereas racial prejudice against white people doesn’t have the same weight and history behind it as racism does. Racism is more than making a joke that white people don’t like their food spicy or calling us bland. If you actually consider that racism, then I have news for you about how white people and the institutions they’ve created treat people of color.

Racism includes not only attitudes, but also actions and inequalities written into our laws and taught in our schools that allow for the mistreatment of people of color. But this mistreatment isn’t always seen as such and can be treated as a normal part of our society. Racism is built into our history, written into it by those who have been in power: white people. You cannot be racist against a white person. You cannot be racist against a group of people that has traditionally held power in virtually every colonized country. White people are not oppressed and they never have been. White people do not experience discrimination due to their skin color at a systematic or institutional level simply because the institutions that are racist towards people of color in this country were created by white people.

Why is it important to distinguish between racism and reverse racism? Because, the concept of  reverse racism is an insult to the people of color that experience very real, very serious and sometimes very life-threatening racism everyday. Before you call something “reverse racism” look at other factors in the situation that may be the cause for whatever treatment you are receiving; your attitude, circumstances that are out of both yours and the other party's control, or maybe you are the one being racist and the response you are receiving is a result of that.