So earlier today my first article came out in my student newspaper The Houghton Star. I’ve received a fair amount of negative backlash but I still think it’s important.
Firstly, I want to make it known that I realize that I personally do not have to deal with thinking about my race constantly. In America, whiteness is viewed as the default. Since I’m white, I don’t have to deal with any sort of discrimination or racism. Therefore, I may not be the best authority in this matter, but I have the opportunity to present the problems inherent in the phrase “reverse racism.”
Let me be blunt: reverse racism does not exist. It may help to begin by defining what racism is. When a race has the position of power over minority races and, purposefully or not, uses this power in a way that negatively affects these minorities — that is racism. When anything is said or done that affects a minority race as a whole negatively — that is racism. Racism is negative comments that further negative and harmful stereotypes about minorities. Racism is refusing to hire someone because of their race. Racism is the high incarceration rates and low graduation rates among people of color. Sometimes, sadly, racism is violence and hate crimes.
These things are undeniable examples of racism, but comments, such as “white people can’t dance” aren’t racist . Hating someone because they are white is not racism. These things are better understood as “racial prejudice.” Racial prejudice exists purely on an individual level, unlike racism, which also operates on institutional and cultural levels. While saying “white people don’t like spicy food” might hurt an individual’s feelings, it can’t really do any cultural or institutional harm. There is no power behind statements like that.
Neither racism nor racial prejudice is acceptable. As Christians, we are called to love one another and embrace our unity in Christ. This is why the apostle Paul wrote that “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) We should therefore criticize any kind of prejudice that is grounded in race. While on this earth, it is perfectly great for people to celebrate their racial background — however, in Christ we are the same.
White Americans must realize that we do not face racism on an institutional scale. Perhaps we occasionally face racial prejudice or insensitive jokes, but our racial background does not seriously limit our opportunities for success or impair our lives in any meaningful way. The problem with calling out “reverse racism” is that it silences and devalues those who face true racism. So please, don’t buy into the myth of “reverse racism” when what you’re actually speaking about is racial prejudice.
If you want to read it on the official site or leave a comment you can go to the online Houghton Star.