The myth of reverse racism

Why racism against white people doesn’t actually exist

Claire Yang

“I hate white people.”

The phrase has been casually littering social media platforms, and occasionally makes an appearance in everyday life. Making quirky “jokes” by generalizing white Americans has become a custom on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, where users poke fun at how white people “have no culture” and their “white people problems.”

Over the past few years, white Americans have become the laughing stock of liberal America, and some have taken to calling this “reverse racism.”

Reverse racism is when racism is directed at a privileged or dominant group — or in the case of the U.S., anti-white racism. This term has taken root not only because of the aforementioned “racist” jokes, but also because of instances where people of color have attacked white people because of their race.

Just a few months ago, a black woman suddenly assaulted two white passengers on a bus in Maryland because she “hated white people”. However, there have been heated debates over whether reverse racism really exists, especially as America’s political climate becomes increasingly tense.

By definition, racism is “prejudice, discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” However, dictionary definitions aren’t always reliable. The majority are written by white men, who have inevitably weaved some of their own prejudice into these definitions (considering ketchup is defined as a spicy sauce).

The dictionary definition also mistakes prejudice for racism by eluding one major element of racism: systematic oppression. Racism is institutional, not just individual. What else could explain why white families hold 90 percent of the national wealth? Or why the unemployment rate among black people has always been double that of whites in the past 60 years, regardless of the state of the economy? Or why job applicants with white-sounding names are 50 percent more likely to get called back than applicants with African-American names, despite having identical résumés?

Despite a clear system in which white people are given the upper hand, according to The Washington Post, white Americans believe that anti-white racism is a bigger problem than anti-black racism. From criminal justice to housing costs, white Americans are largely favored in American society, yet they turn a blind eye to their privilege. Being subject to a few ignorant comments qualifies a white person as a victim of prejudice, but not racism.

Of course, this does not make prejudice, although less damaging than racism as a whole, dismissible. There is no scenario in which treating someone differently because of their race is acceptable. As America is struggling to straighten its skewed social structure, making remarks like “I hate white people” is not boosting the effort; it’s making the situation worse. Combating racism with prejudice is like fighting fire with fire. It’s not only hypocritical, but also shows that people of color’s fight for social justice is driven by revenge, not a desire for a better world. In an era of newfound freedom and acceptance, why not take the chance to bring up the oppressed rather than drag down the privileged?