Some basic 101 on why ‘reverse-racism’ is not a thing.
Mia: Hello. I’m Mia McKenzie, founder of Black Girl Dangerous.
Janani: And I’m Janani, Assistant Editor of Black Girl Dangerous.
Mia: And this is, QTPOC Chat. This is our series here we chat about stuff that is interesting to us and perhaps to other queer and trans people of color. Today, we’re gonna be talking about ‘reverse-racism’.
Janani: Or, really, why reverse-racism is not actually a thing.
Mia: It’s not a thing. It definitely isn’t. But I find…I feel like this is the thing that is maybe the most contested of all the things. You know, I feel like whenever I post anything about white folks, about separatism, white privilege, white superiority, anything…ten million motherfuckers are like “you’re being reverse-racist!” Like, it’s every schmo motherfucker who doesn’t know anything about anything, it’s their go-to, their first thing is ‘reverse-racism’. So, I felt like it was important to try to talk a little bit about why that is not a thing and then I can just send the people the link.
Janani: Yeah, to the video.
Mia: Yeah, to the video, and “this is why it’s not.” So, let’s talk about why it’s not a thing.
Janani: So, I think the fact that people are able to clam that reverse racism is a thing speaks to the way that somehow we’ve reconceived racism as something that’s interpersonal, like, “You make racist speech acts towards me” and “You said something racist to me/you did something racist to me.” Which is true. Like, those things can happen. Bu much more, I think racism is a systemic thing that is contained within our institutions, our prisons, our schools, our hospitals, our government, in legacies and histories of enslavement and colonialism. So, it would literally take white folks living in US America and the West being then re-colonized, enslaved, you know, whatever systemic injustices have taken place against all sorts of people of color, happening to them for there to be a system of ‘reverse-racism’ in place.
Mia: Exactly. And, you know, I wrote a blog post a while back called “How to Be A Reverse Racist” (with co-writer AD Song) and the point of that post is, you know, it sort of lists all the ways in which people of color experience oppression, all the ways that colonialism has, you know…just the whole system that exists and why, because white people are not that victims of that system, white people aren’t the victims of racism. And that’s not to say that white people can’t be…you know, that you can’t be prejudiced against white people, that you can’t have feelings about white people that are just because they’re white. You can. It’s not to say that you can’t discriminate or make all kinds of decisions based on someone being white. But it is to say that even in doing that, you’re not contributing to a system that is oppressive to white people, because there isn’t a system that is oppressive to white people.
Janani: Not on the basis of their being white.
Mia: Right. Not on the basis of their being white. Exactly.
Janan: Oddly enough, some of this white allyship discourse has actually contributed to the possibility for claims of reverse racism. Right? Because again, saying that white people can be allies, or that ally is an identity that you can have, makes racism often into a personal ting or an interpersonal thing. Yes, white people can participate in the struggle for dismantling systemic racism, but ally is not an identity you can have because by being a white person you are caught up in that system of white supremacy. And I think allyship tends to center the doing of racism on people: “other white people are racist and I’m learning how not to be a racist.” As opposed to, “white supremacy exists and I’m going to dismantle the systems by which it is enacted and perpetuated.”
Mia: When there’s something on Black Girl Dangerous and people start to cry ‘reverse-racism’…I have a really smart friend, my friend Alex Ross, who’s a white cis male and his answer to those people when they accuse me of being ‘reverse-racist’ towards them is like, “What did she say that contributed to white people not being able to be employed?” You know? “What did she say that contributed to white people being incarcerated at exorbitant rates compared to everyone else?” You can’t call something racist that doesn’t feed into a racist system, that’s not a part of a r
acist system. You know, if I say something you don’t like, something that makes you feel like I don’t like you…well, that’s…say that. Say, “what you said makes me feel like you don’t like me.” But don’t call it racism or ‘reverse-racism’ when it’s not in any way, shape or form, now, then or ever going to feed into a system that’s going to keep you from having access to education, from not being the victim of police brutality, being incarcerated, not having access to safe food or housing. Like, none of those things is happening when someone “doesn’t like” a white person. None of that is feeding into a system that’s built up to oppress white folks. So, people you just need to change your language. I mean, I think what it is at its core is that people don’t really understand what racism is, like you said, people think either racism is some sort of interpersonal thing or…I mean, some people’s definitions of what racism is are just so shockingly simple: “It’s not liking people because of their race.” No. That’s not racism. You need to read and you need to—you know, there’s Google. There’s this thing, there’s Google, did you ever heard of it?! Do some research. Go to the library. That is not a definition of racism, that is not what racism is. Go get caught up on what racism is and how it operates, because if you don’t even understand that then you’re not going to be able to have a conversation about racism and how it operates at all.
Janani: So, if you want to continue the conversation with us over facebook, feel free and if you have any other thoughts, feel free to send them our way also, whether by video or blog post or whatever you got. Until next time.
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