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 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.
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.
This perspective looks at the everyday prejudices faced by white people as proof that they can be victims of racism.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Institutional or systemic power is not a necessary component of racism.
Racism refers to the belief that some races are inferior to others. While this belief can be combined with social powers to disadvantage groups, power is not imperative in constructing racism. People can believe they are superior to other races, even if they are part of a discriminated group in their environment themselves.