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Can white people be victims of racism?

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

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.

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. The basest description of racism might be a belief that certain races are inferior to others. However, this is problematic because it does not account for the power structures that perpetuate racial inequality. 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. A black person making a negative comment about white people might be offensive, but it is not essentially racist, because their words do not have structural implications. The same is not true were these roles reversed. Proponents include anti-racism scholar Guilaine Kinouani, Metro journalist Natalie Morris and the cast of Dear White People. Explore

Racism is white supremacy

White supremacism is a specific brand of racism that cannot be grouped into the same category as other types. Racism originates within this tradition. Therefore, the dictionary definition we choose to use is irrelevant. Racism describes a centuries-old belief in white domination. The same ideology that led to a thriving international slave trade, Jim Crow, the brutal murder of Emmett Till and thousands more murdered for the colour of their skin. White supremacy stands alone in its role in historical atrocities and present inequalities. Proponents include New York Times columnist Jamelle Boule and Time Political Correspondent Vera Bergengruen. Explore

We are socialised into a world where to 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. Explore

Whites can experience prejudice but not racism

Racism is distinct from prejudice because of how it impacts wider systemic issues within society. It is especially potent because of how it supports a racialised unequal distribution of power. Because of this, white people cannot be victims of racism; white agency is already far greater than that held by non-whites. That is not to say that it is impossible for whites to be victims of prejudice. They too can be targeted by blanket assumptions on the basis of their skin colour. However, these instances do not translate into institutionalised norms that punish white people. For example, the use racial slurs against black people represent their lived experience, manifest in racial profiling, police mistreatment, workplace discrimination and economic inequalities. Therefore, white people cannot be victims of racism. Proponents include University of California Professor Nicki Cole, Black Lives Matter, and high profile anti-racism activist Kennedy Mitchum. Explore

Yes, White people can be victims of racism

This perspective looks at the everyday prejudices faced by white people as proof that they can be victims of racism.

Whites suffer systemic racism

The media is responsible for false narratives on systemic oppression. Whites are the key targets in this racist campaign tearing across the Western world. A glance at the racial profiles of people killed by American police make a very clear case for this. Whites are twice as likely to be shot to death at the hands of law enforcement. The same is true of police brutality: 75% of people shot by police (whether fatal or not) are white. This is undoubtedly a question about entrenched oppression - one symptomatic of a society with anti-white racism at its heart. Proponents include Fox anchor Andrew McCarthy. Explore

Affirmative action is anti-white racism in action

Affirmative action - a system that favours non-whites across College admissions, company boards, "diversity" initiatives and many more facets of public life - is blatantly racist. It is a type of reverse racism that has no place in our society. Of course, we should acknowledge historical wrongs. But, there is no justifiable basis to move on from discrimination by introducing a new form, in which another racial group (whites) face prejudice. For example, it is absurd that young people today, who have grown up into a society that recognises racism and actively works to dismantle prejudice, are having opportunities made unavailable to them by virtue of their skin colour. Explore

White men are most racially sidelined group in society

White men are subject to overt - and socially acceptable - racism all the time. White male identity is increasingly seen through a single demonising lens that associates them with guilt, oppression, violence and ignorance. This has come about thanks to a number of colliding factors including initiatives to redress unbalanced gender and racial representation across industry, in the media, and in the workplace. Proponents of this view include Scottish Herald columnist Stuart Waiton and the American alt right. Explore

Any group can be victims of racism

Racism a form of prejudice that manifests through a belief in a racial hierarchy. Which groups sit at atop this hierarchy, and which at the bottom, is irrelevant. The dictionary definition of "racism" is "“prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” White people - like any group - can be victims of racism. Explore

Mainstream media propagates anti-white propaganda

As Conservative American writer Clarence McKee writes, "in today’s world of political correctness, a high-profile crime where a white is victimized by a black is not as worthy of attention and punishment as is the case when a white brutalizes a black victim." Media reports are poised to tear white criminals apart, and view white-on-black crime as clearly motivated by racist tendencies. Yet, there is nothing to suggest this is the case. It is simply a brand of infuriating propaganda that has grown out of a culture of political correctness. This double standard trickles down into society, creating an unbalanced precedent for understanding race relations. Explore

Anti-black racism starts global movements, while anti-white racism is socially acceptable

White victimisation is on the rise, and yet barely registers in the news cycle. Many point to President Trump's presidency and the backlash against his perceived racism against ethnic minorities. In the aftermath of controversial laws, such as the travel ban, videos surfaced of blacks attacking whites on the basis of their colour. That footage was never investigated. Nor did it spark any kind of meaningful social movement, like those seen in Ferguson or in the wake of George Floyd's murder. There can only be one takeaway here: society places greater value on black lives. The ongoing violent protests around the world by Black Lives Matter activists typify this attitude, and how it has now become engrained in the social psyche. Proponents include white supremacists and the alt-right. Explore

"To be anti-racist is to be anti-white"

The term "anti-racism" has been co-opted by racists intent on obliterating whites. It is used to undermine white communities, and a veiled attempt to couch the coming black supremacy in the language of social justice. This perspective sees the lopsided immigration from Asia and Africa into the West as evidence that these nations intend to wipe out white people. They argue that people should stay within their own home nations - e.g. "Africa for Africans" - and have no place in white countries. When they do move to the West therefore, the so-called "anti-racism" campaigns are part of a much more underhand plan to seize control of white territories. Proponents include Bob Whitaker, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Explore

Anti-black "racism" is eugenic truth. Anti-white racism is not.

Blacks have faced historical discrimination because they deserve it. One cannot argue with the facts: proportionately, they commit more crimes, put back less into the economy, breed danger in their neighbourhoods and have much lower standards of education than whites. These are not opinions - they are facts. When we talk about "white-on-black racism" we are really talking about ripping off the band aid of political correctness, and seeing the realities of racial difference that exist across the world. And yet, racism against whites persists. Proponents include the Ku Klux Klan, white pride organisations and white supremacists. Explore
This page was last edited on Tuesday, 30 Jun 2020 at 08:23 UTC