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< Back to question Can white people be victims of racism? Show more Show less

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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Whites can experience prejudice but not racism

The definitions of racism and prejudice are fundamentally different.
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The Argument

No, white people cannot be victims of racism, yet they can experience prejudice within society. Racism and prejudice are fundamentally and technically different, which allows the white race to experience one, but not the other.[1] Racism can only be enacted by someone who holds racial privilege in a society with racial oppression. This therefore includes all white people currently living in the United States. However, prejudice is defined as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.” Therefore, this argument can follow the old rhyme from geometry; all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares. Comparatively, all racism can be considered prejudice, but not all prejudice can be considered racism. White people cannot be systemic targets due to the color of their skin. However, they too can be targeted by blanket assumptions on the basis of their skin colour, just as blanket assumptions can be made about gender, sexuality, nationality, and more. However, these instances do not translate into institutionalized norms.[2] Racism is a daily lived experience of black people, manifesting in racial profiling, police mistreatment, workplace discrimination and economic inequalities. White people do not have a comparable experience, even if they have experienced prejudice. As such, they cannot have experience racism.

Counter arguments

On the contrary, white people can be victims of racism because prejudices related to colour of skin are automatically categorized as racist efforts. Even if white people have no experience of systemic racism, facing negative effects and having negative experiences due to one’s skin colour is a racist experience, not only a prejudiced one [3]

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents


References

  1. https://www.thoughtco.com/racism-vs-prejudice-3026086
  2. https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2017/08/myth-of-reverse-racism/535689/
  3. https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/22/us/kendi-book-anti-racist-blake/index.html

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 16 Sep 2020 at 15:40 UTC

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