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Point/Counterpoint: Is reverse racism real?

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Two columnists debate the merits of “reverse racism,” or minorities perpetuating racism against white people.

Wylliam Smith

Reverse racism is real

As we all know, racism is problem in the United States. White people being racist toward black people, white people being racist toward Latinx people, white people being racist toward Muslims, white people being racist towards Asians …

All these statements have something in common: white people being the perpetrator, and it is generally taboo for the situation to be reversed. White people are perceived as the offender when the term racism is being thrown around. And this not necessarily untrue.

Minorities face a lot of racism from white people. But this does not mean that whites cannot be victims of racism as well.

Something I hear quite a lot from both minorities and some white people is that a person cannot be racist toward a white person because they are the instigators of that racism. To that, I say I would love for those people to meet my grandfather.

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I love my grandfather, but he is one of the most racist men I have ever met. Constantly throwing out racial slurs, telling me whether or not I could date someone because they were white. His parting words to me when I left for college were “be careful of those c*****rs in Iowa.”

This belief is not unique to just my grandfather, either. Being in the black community, I constantly hear “blame it on the white man” when something goes wrong. I have spoken to black people who say that it’s in their right to feel this way — that the years of racism they’ve experienced does not equal a mean phrase.

But that is not true. I am not condoning the acts racism against minorities throughout history, but you can’t solve racism with more racism. While I feel that whites cannot, and probably never will, face the systemic racism many minorities face every day, I won’t say that they are immune to all types of racism.

The false belief that only white people can be racist needs to end. Anyone can be a racist toward any race. Being a minority doesn’t give you a free pass to be a hypocrite.

Isabella Rosario

Reverse racism is an inaccurate term

A 2014 survey by Public Religion Research Institute found that 52 percent of white Americans believe discrimination against them is comparable to discrimination against minority groups. While I condemn racial prejudice of any kind, including against white people, my criticism of the term “reverse racism” is more a matter of semantic implications.

The word “reverse” suggests that white people face a version of racism that is the same as conventional racism, just affecting them. Of course, not everyone who uses this term believes this simplistically. But white Americans’ culpability to equating systemic racism with “reverse racism,” as evidenced by the survey, is problematic enough to discourage its usage.

I’m limited by word count, but I can assure you of this: perceived victimization of white Americans is completely different from the systemic oppression of minorities in this country since its conception.

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Still, there’s no denying that many white Americans feel they are racially oppressed — and it’s no coincidence that the first murmurings of “black racism” began in the Civil Rights era, when black Americans began vying for seats in local government. Historically, white people have been the majority, and they’ve held the most socioeconomic success. When you’re privileged, it’s easy to perceive equity as discrimination. And with “white privilege” entering contemporary vernacular, the defensiveness from some white people is understandable.

Racial prejudice against white people is real. But labeling it “reverse racism” only allows white people, and even some people of color, to stay insulated in their lack of understanding of systemic oppression. There’s no excuse for mistreating people based on their race. Calling interpersonal prejudice what it is, instead of simplifying it to a loaded term describing systemic oppression, is one of the first steps we can take in understanding our country’s complicated race relations.

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