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Can white people be victims of racism? Show more Show less
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In 2011 Harvard and Tufts universities published a landmark study into American attitudes to racism. Many found their findings surprising. White respondents believed their communities were subject to more racism than their black counterparts. Their belief was that post-civil rights efforts to correct anti-black prejudice had come at the expense of white people. But this idea of"reverse racism" frequently comes under fire . As study co-author Samuel Sommers writes, ""It's a pretty surprising finding when you think of the wide range of disparities that still exist in society, most of which show black Americans with worse outcomes than whites in areas such as income, home ownership, health, and employment." In the decade since the paper was published, this debate has become more central to the political agenda. Investigating prejudice, identity and ethnicity, has become critical to understanding how racism is performed and reproduced. So, can white people be victims of racism?

No, white people cannot be victims of racism Show more Show less

This perspective believes that racism does not exist in a vacuum. Racism is predicated on systemic oppression; something is racist because it deepens existing racial inequalities. Whites are the primary beneficiaries of society's norms and institutions. Therefore, they cannot be victims of racism.
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We are socialised into a world where white is the default race

White people operate within an environment that protects them, and limits opportunity for non-whites to share their experiences of racialised prejudice. In the West, this context creates expectations for so-called "racial comfort". Simultaneously, it creates norms whereby white people become defensive about, and sensitive too, any kind of "racial stress" that threatens their position within the social hierarchy. This stress is performed through anger, sadness, allegiance, pity and weaponised empathy, in such a way that impedes further dialogue. This is what we mean by "white fragility". It is so intrinsic to white identities that when we deconstruct this behaviour, and the interactions between white and non white populations, once thing is clear. That is, all white people (in the West) are unconsciously racist, by virtue of being white, and having been socialised into a world with lopsided race relations. At its heart, is the flawed belief that being white is the default setting and non-whites are variations from this standard. It is as journalist Laurie Penny writes: "“For white people...acknowledging the reality of racism means acknowledging our own guilt and complicity.” Proponents include academic and author Dr Robin DiAngelo.

The Argument

Many cultures around the world have expressed, both historically and presently, a preference for lighter skin over darker skin.[1][2] This preference is no different in the US, where, despite a history of racial diversity since the country’s birth, colorism has manifested as whiteness being the default for those who have any semblance of wealth or power. The US was founded on the premise of white superiority and the white man’s destiny to expand across the land while oppressing minorities in the name of “education.” Modern definitions of racism have expanded to include the oppression or domination of another racial group based on feelings of racial or cultural superiority.[3] White people continue to be overly represented in positions of power across both government and business, while minorities continue to fight for equal representation in these areas. Hate-filled speech against white people does not have the same real-word impact as white racism does on racial minorities. While prejudice exists across all of humankind, minorities cannot be racist towards the majority ruling group while this power imbalance exists.[3]

Counter arguments

Races of all kinds exist all around the world and their existence is not threatened by the existence of white people. White is not the default race in many parts of the world, and in those places, whiteness is the minority or the exception. Racism is the belief of superiority of one race over another, and there are many instances where racial minorities are given preference over white people, such as in affirmative action.[4]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://thediplomat.com/2019/12/where-does-the-asian-obsession-with-white-skin-come-from/
  2. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200818-colourism-in-india-the-people-fighting-light-skin-bias
  3. https://www.dailydot.com/irl/racism-against-white-people-doesnt-exist/
  4. https://www.thoughtco.com/ricci-v-destefano-reverse-discrimination-case-2834828

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 15 Sep 2020 at 08:45 UTC

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