Maggie Connolly ’21
In the United States, there is a culture of attributing acts of hate or disdain against a community to race, regardless of the race of the discriminated community. More specifically, there is a predominant community of people who believe that with the rise and mobilization of the black community in the United States, there has been an increased level of “racism” towards white people. This idea is known as reverse racism, but this concept is a myth that is too commonly mistaken as valid.
There is constantly the possibility of prejudice in any society. There are certain groups of people who continuously believe in the superiority of their race, religious affiliation, gender, etc. However, the concept of true racism stems from a historical context. In order to fall victim to racism and racist rhetoric, one must be a member of a systemically oppressed community. For example, in the United States, there is historical evidence of systemic discrimination against blacks in institutions such as slavery and Jim Crow laws.
Although these entities are no longer in place, the effects of them are still prominent and visible in American society today. For example, although the Jim Crow laws were abolished, there is still segregation in public facilities, including public schools across America. School choice policies allow students and their families to choose the district in which their child attends school as opposed to being automatically assigned a district. This facilitates parents choosing institutions based on the racial makeup of the school, providing for the opportunity for certain public schools to become increasingly white. Although there is no longer a law directly affecting which schools students attend based on race, this kind of policy highlights that there is still some form of legal facilitation of school segregation in certain states.
This policy, among many others, proves the predominance of how intrinsic and some would argue, hidden, racism has become in the United States. Many people claim that they are not racist because they have black friends or write off making a joke about someone’s race as harmless fun. However, these, among many other comments made by individuals, are incredibly problematic statements.
Likewise, with the growing relevance of the Black Lives Matter movement, and other organizations the black community is rallying around, there is increasing opposition from a portion of the white community in the United States. At its core, the Black Lives Matter movement was created in response to the acquittal of the man who murdered Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman. Since then, the organization has gained plenty of traction in the media and is known to be a central factor in the mobilization of the African American community.
There are many white individuals in the United States who feel that this organization, as well as others like it, are designed to marginalize white people. These individuals often claim that “All Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter.” The “All Lives” perspective is more of a dispute of the movement as a whole, while the “Blue Lives” perspective argues that those who murder law enforcement officers should be charged with a hate crime if they are found guilty. These oppositional ideals further the emphasis on reverse racism in the United States. The individuals who are not included feel targeted, however, they do not realize that although they may not be directly involved with the subject of the movement, they can get involved as allies of the marginalized community.
As a country, we often claim that the things we do not understand or are not a part of are wrong or foolish. This belief is flawed and very dangerous. In order to move forward and have political and social progress as a nation, we must accept the real problems as just that: real. Racism is real, and reverse racism is often a way in which white people try to hide the reality of this racism and marginalization in the United States. This concept is detrimental to the possibility of development and change, something that this country so desperately needs and will continue to need for many decades.
Photo courtesy of NewsWeek.