Myth of Reverse Racism


Racism = Power + Prejudice

Myth of Reverse Racism

The Over Exaggeration of White Discrimination

Privilege as a Zero-Sum Game and the Misunderstanding of Affirmative Action

Racism = Power + Prejudice

Racism = Power + Prejudice

Patricia Bidol-Padv: Developing New Perspectives on Race: An Innovative Multi-media Social Studies Curriculum in Racism Awareness for the Secondary Level.

Racism = Prejudice + Power

This definition was first proposed by Patricia Bidol-Padva in 1970


SJWiki: Prejudice Plus Power

Racism is prejudice plus power. On the basis of this definition, while all people can be prejudiced, only those who have power are really racist. African Americans, Latinos, Asians and American Indians the powerless in American society can be and often are most prejudiced toward Whites on an individual basis, but they are not racists at the structural, institutional level. Within this understanding of racism, to be a racist you have to possess two things:

  • 1) socioeconomic power to force others to do what you desire even if they don’t want to, and
  • 2), the justification of this power abuse by an ideology of biological supremacy.

Keep in mind that what often is described as racism in society today, is really nothing more than prejudice and discrimination. While a Black or Latino person, through the use of a gun and/or intimidation, can force a White person to do as he as an individual desires, this is an individual act of aggression, not a socially structured power arrangement. At present, however, only Whites have that kind of power, reinforced by a belief in an ideology of supremacy, both of which constitute the basis of racism in America today…

…The concept of prejudice plus power frames forms of oppression such as racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism, and other positions of societal disfavor as perpetrated by those in power against those that are not in power. Just disliking someone or not favoring someone because of their race, gender, or other trait is not enough to oppress them; some form of power has to back the opinion that reflects it into multiple aspects of an environment rather than just a relational conflict.

The manifestation of prejudice when installed by those in power into social systems or institutions is called institutional oppression

…A common assertion is that this definition of oppression disqualifies those with less social privilege from criticism, eg. only white people can be racist, only men can be sexist, only cisgender people can be transphobic, only able people can be ableist. However, this is a very simplistic understanding and focuses on distasteful concepts i.e. the “right” of those with more privilege to call reverse racism or misandry or protest being called cis. The words of an oppressed class have very little power to cause any sort of detriment to those with social privilege; calling a white person a “cracker” doesn’t impact their chances of being hired in the USA, identifying a cisgender person is not linked to the murder rate or medical care denial rate of cisgender people, and a woman proclaiming that men are encouraged to act irresponsibly doesn’t change the amount of boys entering higher science or computer education or bear implications for the rape statistics of men and boys. However, for people of color, trans people, and women these things are provably true.

Singling out a person with a major axis of privilege may be rude, but the major impact of it is limited to some hurt feelings. Singling out a person without that axis of privilege for systematically disfavored traits supports and normalizes vast systems that take away their life opportunities and often lead to acts of violence against people of their same demographic. These acts, for less privileged individuals are the bulk of microaggressions, or cumulative, frequent small expressions of oppression that can result in internalized oppression and damage to mental-health and well-being that those on axis of greater privilege do not experience.”

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Myth of Reverse Racism

The Root: Is Reverse Racism A “Thing?”

Cultural Bridges to Justice:  Training and Resource for Building Just Communities

Reverse Racism

(a)            “People of color are just as racist as white people.”

(b)            “Affirmative Action had a role years ago, but today it’s just reverse racism; now it’s discriminating against white men.”

(c)            “The civil rights movement, when it began was appropriate, valuable, needed. But it’s gone to the extreme. The playing field is now level. Now the civil rights movement is no longer working for equality but for revenge.” or

(d)            “Black Pride, Black Power is dangerous. They just want power over white people.” (Include here any reference to pride and empowerment of any people of color.)

Reality Check and Consequence

(a)            Let’s first define racism:

Racism = Racial Prejudice (white people and people of color have this)


Systemic, Institutional Power (white people have this)

To say people of color can be racist, denies the power imbalance inherent in institutionalized racism.

Certainly, people of color can be and are prejudiced against white people. That was a part of their societal conditioning. A person of color can act on their prejudices to insult even hurt a white person. But there is a difference between being hurt and being oppressed. People of color, as a social group, do not have the societal, institutional power to oppress white people as a group. An individual person of color abusing a white person – while clearly wrong, (no person should be insulted, hurt, etc.) is acting out a personal racial prejudice, not racism (by this power definition.)

(b)            This form of denial is based in the false notion that the playing field is now level. When the people with privilege and historical access and advantage are expected to suddenly (in societal evolution time) share some of that power, it is often perceived as discrimination.

(c + d)            c is a statement by Rush Limbaugh. Though, clearly he is no anti-racist, both c + d follow closely on the heels of “reverse racism” and are loaded with white people’s fear of people of color and what would happen if they gained “control.” Embedded here is also the assumption that to be “pro-Black” (or any color) is to be anti-white. (A similar illogical accusation is directed at women who work for an end to violence against women and girls. Women who work to better the lives of women are regularly accused of being “anti-male.”)

Atlantic: The Myth of Reverse Racism

“The usage of “reverse racism” and “reverse discrimination” arose in direct response to affirmative and race-based policies in the 1970s. Even as outright quotas and more open attempts to equalize the numbers of minority enrollees were defeated, the term stuck. A 1979 California Law Review article defines reverse discrimination as a phenomenon where “individual blacks and members of other minority groups began to be given benefits at the expense of whites who, apart from race, would have had a superior claim to enjoy them.”

Reverse racism—or any race-conscious policy—became a common grievance, one that helped shape a certain post-civil-rights-movement view of America where black people were the favored children of the state, and deserving white people were cast aside…

…Fears of reverse racism fly in the face of data. White students still make up almost three-quarters of all private external scholarship recipients in four-year bachelor’s programs, almost two-thirds of all institutional grants and scholarship recipients, and over three-quarters of all merit-based grants and scholarships, although white people only make up about 62 percent of the college student population and about half of all people under 19. White students are more likely than black, Latino, and Asian students to receive scholarships.

Also, existing data suggest that race-conscious admissions policies are the main factors keeping overall enrollment roughly representative of America’s racial demographics. A FiveThirtyEight analysis from 2015 found that colleges in states with affirmative-action bans are less representative of the state’s demographics than colleges that are still allowed to consider race. Other simulations suggest that replacing race-conscious policies with colorblind policies that take into account applicants’ socioeconomic status yields less racial diversity on college campuses.

‘Reverse Racism’ Is A Giant Lie – Here’s Why

NY Times: The Easiest Way to Get Rid of Racism? Just Redefine It.

On its face, inviting a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan onto your radio show is a risky proposition with very little upside. The situation gets even more precarious when you’re inviting this ex-wizard to dole out opinions on race. But these are wild times we’re living in, which is why David Duke — who has emerged as a top cheerleader for the Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump — appeared on N.P.R.’s “Morning Edition” two weeks ago and defended the candidate from charges of racism.

The surprise was that Duke, now running for a Senate seat, actually had some perceptive things to say. The rising tide of buttoned-up Republicans who have spoken out against Trump’s ethnic belligerence, he said, were betraying both “the Republican Party and certainly conservatism.” He then managed to dismiss those Republicans and swiftly parse a complex national paradox. “These are just nothing more than epithets and vicious attacks,” Duke said. “Donald Trump is not a racist. And the truth is, in this country, if you simply defend the heritage of European-American people, then you’re automatically a racist. There’s massive racial discrimination against Euro­pean-Americans, and that’s the reality.”

In positioning Trump as the victim of a smear campaign, Duke was defending him against claims of deep, personal, cancer-of-the-soul racism. Trump isn’t racist, said the ex-Klan boss (who, of course, also isn’t racist), because he doesn’t harbor hate in his heart for America’s racial minorities. But then he pivoted. The real problem, he claimed, is systemic racism, directed against European-Americans.

This is how David Duke, who most diverges from the stereotypical Klansman in that he wears suits, revealed an understanding that systems of race are more important than one person’s motives, reputation or emotional health — that there is racism, and then there is racism, and the two are not the same.

The first cited use of “racism” in The Oxford English Dictionary comes from 1902, during the well-intentioned Lake Mohonk Conference of Friends of the Indian. There, a white man, Richard Henry Pratt, criticized government policy toward Native Americans. “Segregating any class or race of people apart from the rest of the people kills the progress of the segregated people or makes their growth very slow,” he said. “Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism and classism.” Pratt was what we might call “progressive” for his time; his version of destroying racism involved forcibly assimilating Native Americans into white culture. (As he put it, “Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”) Both of these options — segregation by force or assimilation by force — had disastrous effects for Native Americans. But for Pratt, racism was a matter of policy, not malice.

“Racism” spent the first half of the 20th century in competition with an­other word, “racialism,” though neither featured prominently in our national conversation. Then came the civil rights era, when the word took on for many a convenient new meaning, one that had more to do with the human heart than with practices like redlining, gerrymandering or voter intimidation. In 1964, Gov. George Wallace of Alabama — who just a year earlier promised “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” — explained the clear difference, in his mind, between a racist and a segregationist: “A racist is one who despises someone because of his color, and an Alabama segregationist is one who conscientiously believes that it is in the best interest of the Negro and white to have a separate educational and social order.”

Soon, nearly everyone could agree that racism was the evil work of people with hate in their hearts — bigots. This was a convenient thing for white Americans to believe. Racism, they could say, was the work of racists. And wherever you looked, there were no racists: only good men like Wallace, minding the welfare of their black fellow citizens, or the segregationist South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond, defending states’ rights. Racism definitely existed, at some point — no one was out there denying that slavery had happened — but its residue had settled only in the hearts of the most unsavory individuals. Society as a whole didn’t need reform for the sins of a few.

Racism ceased to be a matter of systems and policy and became a referendum on the rot of the individual soul. Calling people racist was no longer a matter of evaluating their opinions; it was an accusation of being irrevocably warped at the very core. We can see how this plays out in news coverage of things that are, in fact, racist. “Racist” is seen as such a deep personal attack that it’s safer and more civil — particularly in the eyes of mainstream media organizations — to refer to things as racially charged, or tinged, or explosive, or divisive, or (when all else fails) just plain racial.

In May, Trump made news by railing against Gonzalo Curiel, the Indiana-born Mexican-American federal judge presiding over litigation against Trump University. Trump called him “very hostile” and suggested that he recuse himself. “This judge is of Mexican heritage,” Trump explained to CNN’s Jake Tapper. “I’m building a wall, O.K.?”

Soon after, the speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, materialized to make a rare sort of public statement, actually agreeing with charges of racism against a candidate he still endorsed. “Claiming a person can’t do their job because of their race is sort of like the textbook definition of a racist comment,” he said.

Ryan then appeared on the “Kilmeade and Friends” radio show. “Are you saying that Donald Trump’s a racist?” Brian Kilmeade asked. “No, I’m not,” Ryan replied. “I’m saying the comment was. I don’t know what’s in his heart.”

Here, in a nutshell, is the public evolution of this word. Sure, Trump appeared to be suggesting a race-based test of judicial fitness. But the House speaker couldn’t speak to the state of Trump’s soul. He’s not God.

Trump, with his years of practice fielding such charges, had a different response. He seems to understand that charges of racism are essentially toothless, because the bar of proof is now so high that it’s impossible to clear. But he also understands that the seriousness of the accusation can have a paralyzing effect upon its target. So he coached his surrogates on how to respond. “The people asking the questions,” Trump told his proxies, “those are the racists. I would go at ’em.”

This is the end result of redefining racism to mean malice in one’s heart. Once whites moved the goal posts, anyone could be the victim of racism, and anyone could be racist. Activists opposing racism could be racist. President Obama casually mentioning that he, like Trayvon Martin, is black — this could be a deeply racist act. Advocates of busing programs or affirmative action could be racist. Minorities resentful over their treatment in America could be the real racists, the ones whose hearts insist on “making everything about race.” Al Sharpton is a racist. Beyoncé Knowles is a racist. Kanye West is definitely a racist.

A recent Justice Department investigation into the Baltimore Police Department unearthed rampant racial discrimination and routine violations of civil rights that specifically targeted the city’s black residents. And yet nonviolent movements like Black Lives Matter, which emerged three years ago to combat these exact issues, have instead been identified as bad actors, thugs and outside agitators — just last month, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York said, “When you say ‘black lives matter,’ that is inherently racist.”

Someone, after all, must be racist: More than half of white Americans now believe that they’re discriminated against as much as minorities. Who, then, is doing the discriminating?

It’s not that anyone denies that institutional racism once existed. But the belief now is that systemic racism is a national cancer that was excised long ago, in an operation so successful it didn’t even leave lasting effects. All that remains is individual hatred in the souls of the most monstrous among us — or else, depending on whom you ask, in vengeful minorities who want to nurse grievances and see whites suffer for the sins of past generations. Through the willful perversion of shared history, whites have been able to appropriate the victimhood of minorities and, in an audacious reversal, insist that an obvious thing isn’t real — otherwise known as gaslighting. And as in any case of sustained abuse, gaslighting is integral to institutional racism.

“Everybody’s walking on eggshells,” Clint Eastwood said, in a recent interview with Esquire. “We see people accusing people of being racist and all kinds of stuff. When I grew up, those things weren’t called racist.”

Even delivered by an 86-year-old Hollywood tough guy, the absurdity of these words astounds. Here is a white man telling minorities what real racism looks like. He’s not alone, either: It’s common for white Americans to position themselves as the neutral arbiters of what is or is not racist and what other Americans are allowed to be angered by. Lo and behold, the answer is always the same — real institutional racism always ends up being something from the past, something dealt with, not an ongoing system of policy that afflicts minorities and profits white people to this day. Offer any objections, any other experience of the world, and the response you’ll get is the same one Eastwood offered in Esquire:

“Just [expletive] get over it.”


Further Readings

Huff Post: 4 ‘Reverse Racism’ Myths That Need To Stop

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The Over Exaggeration of White Discrimination

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PRRI: Diversity, Division, Discrimination: The State of Young America | MTV/PRRI Report

More than 1 in 3 white young people believe “reverse” discrimination is a serious problem.

  • About one-third (36%) of white young people say discrimination against white people is as serious as that experienced by minority groups. Only 16% of black, 19% of API, and 28% of Hispanic young people agree.
  • White young men are more likely than white young women (43% vs. 29%, respectively) to say discrimination against whites is as serious a problem as discrimination against other groups.
  • A majority (55%) of white Americans overall—including roughly equal numbers of white men (55%) and white women (53%)—agree that discrimination against white people has become as big a problem as discrimination against black people and other minority groups.

Nearly one-third of young people, and almost half of white young men, say efforts to increase diversity harm white people.

  • About one-third (32%) of young people, including 38% of white young people, believe efforts to increase diversity almost always come at the expense of whites.
  • White young men are more divided. Nearly half (48%) believe diversity efforts will harm white people, while more than half (52%) disagree. Only 28% of young white women believe efforts that promote diversity harm white people.

Young men and women have starkly different views on gender discrimination.

  • More than six in ten (63%) young women believe that women face a lot of discrimination in the U.S., while only 43% of young men say the same.
  • A majority (56%) of young men, including nearly two-thirds (65%) of white young men, say that women do not confront a substantial amount of discrimination in the U.S. today.

Market Place: Half of white millennials say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against people of color

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Gen Forward Survey: The “Woke” Generation?Millennial Attitudes on Race in the US

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According to Everyday Feminist: Here’s Your Proof That White Americans Don’t Face Systemic Racism

For one, a startling number of Americans – 49% – think that “discrimination against whites” is “as big a problem as discrimination against” black people and other people of color. Research by The Washington Post corroborates this poll: “Whites now think bias against white people is more of a problem than bias against black people.”

Before you start blaming Trump supporters for these results, a recent poll of 16,000 Americans revealed that Clinton supporters, too, have some serious work to do. For example, 20% of Clinton supporters described Black Americans as “less intelligent” than White Americans. And, not so long ago, two Black women exposed the racism of “progressives” when they dared interrupt Bernie Sanders at a rally in Seattle.

This is a problem all across the board.”

Rolling Stone: 75 Percent of Republicans Say White Americans Are Discriminated Against

The victimization of white America put forth by conservatives and right-wing media has taken hold, according to the results in a new poll from Hill-HarrisX. A whopping 75 percent of registered Republican voters said that white Americans face discrimination.

A majority of Independents, 55 percent, sided with Republicans and said white Americans are discriminated against. Meanwhile, only 38 percent Democrats agreed, and sixty-two percent of Democrats said that white Americans face little or no discrimination at all.

However, the poll did find some agreement among the different political spectrums. Seventy-eight percent of Republicans, 82 percent of Independents and 95 percent of Democrats said that African-Americans are discriminated against. And, in total, 81 percent of the registered voters polled said Hispanics also face discrimination.

Interestingly, only 19 percent of white respondents said they personally faced racial discrimination, proving the point that the fear tactics of Fox News and other conservative media who sell the myth of “reverse racism” are working

Further Readings

The Root: The Oppression of White America

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Privilege as a Zero-Sum Game

and the Misunderstanding of Affirmative Action

“to the extent that white people believe that racism against blacks has decreased, they also believe that racism against whites has increased. They really see it as kind of a fixed pie of resources, a zero-sum game. One job for a black person equals one job that a white person didn’t get” Michael Norton, Harvard

“When a person of color receives a benefit, like a scholarship, it feels like feels like something is taken away from white people” MTV Look Different: White People

  • 21 million people apply for financial aid every year
    • Among undergraduate college students
      • 62% are white students but receive 69% of private scholarships
      • 38% are minorities but receive 31% of private scholarships
    • Even with affirmative action
      • Whites students 40% more likely receive financial aid
      • Blacks and Hispanics are more underrepresented at top colleges than 35 years ago

Affirmative Action

  • Policy that ensures qualified minority applicants
    • Are given the same employment and college opportunities as white people
  • It is a flexible program:
    • No quotas or preferential treatment for people of color
    • No one is required to hire/accept an unqualified person of color
  • Companies and schools are suppose to explain why they didn’t hire/accept a qualified applicant of color
    • Rarely ever enforced
    • Only applied to public companies and college
  • White women have been the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action

The History of Affirmative Action | The New York Times

Further Reading

The Root: Everything White People Think About Affirmative Action Is Wrong
The Root: Separate and Unequal: The Real Education Scandal Is America’s Affirmative Action Program for White People
Patricia Bidol-Padv: Developing New Perspectives on Race: An Innovative Multi-media Social Studies Curriculum in Racism Awareness for the Secondary Level.

Vox: White women benefit most from affirmative action — and are among its fiercest opponents

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