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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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Racism is based on systemic power relationships

Racism is one directional. White people cannot be victims of racism because they occupy a superior position within society.
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The Argument

No, white people cannot be victims of racism as racism is one directional.[1] White people cannot be victims of racism because they occupy a privileged social position that does not face systemic racial oppression, especially in Western society. If racism, as it is defined, is based on systemic power relationships, it is therefore impossible for white people to suffer from racism as they hold power in the current racial dynamic. Some people may think that racism is the belief that certain races are inferior to others as a base definition. Using this definition, it is theoretically possible that white people could be victims of racism. However, this definition is incorrect. Racism is predicated on some racial groups being more powerful than others. Uneven power dynamics allow it to function and flourish. The measure of racism is therefore in its wider implications: how it feeds into structural inequalities that sustain dangerous attitudes about certain groups. Over the course of hundreds of years of systematic racist efforts towards minority populations, and on the other hand, hundreds of years of the systematic embrace of white privilege, white people do not suffer from racism.[2] A black person making a negative comment about white people might be offensive or prejudiced, but it is not essentially racist, because their words do not have structural implications or an oppressive history.[3] The same is not true were these roles reversed.

Counter arguments

White people can be victims of racism, even with in systemic power relationships. That is because racism is primarily defined as discrimination based on skin-color. The definition of racism does not need to be exclusive, but rather should be inclusive of various forms of discrimination. By limiting racism to one-faceted experience, not only are the racist experiences of white people devalued, but multiple ethnicities and races that aren’t black.

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents


References

  1. https://metro.co.uk/2020/03/09/can-white-people-experience-racism-12340542/
  2. https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/DAED_a_00091
  3. https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/full/10.1162/daed_a_00552

This page was last edited on Wednesday, 16 Sep 2020 at 15:38 UTC

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