Yesterday I had such an intriguing conversation with a brunch date in the bright sunshine. After explaining what I do, the conversation turned to a discussion on reverse racism and why it’s not a real thing. (If you want to learn more about that, here’s this really great article about in that the Huffington Post did in January.) As I explained to my date, in order to understand that Black people can’t be racist, you have to first understand what racism is.
Chances are, your definition of racism is outdated and inefficient.
Most people, including my date, understand racism to be prejudice against a person based upon the color of their skin. Unfortunately, that’s just the definition of racial prejudice. Racism, however, is a bit more complex.
Racism is the prejudice against a person due to their perceived racial group, where the individual, group or society has the power to exert social, economic and/or political discrimination, devaluation and dehumanization against that person due to the nature of socially defined stereotypes of that person’s race.
Basically, racism is prejudice + power. It is literally having the power to do something about your prejudice.
Do Black people have the power to exert a large-scale social, economic and/or political discrimination against whites? No. While, yes, there is a biracial president, and yes, there are individual isolated incidents where a Black person makes another white person’s life more difficult, on a greater societal level, a white person cannot be as easily and thoroughly stripped of their humanity because of pre-conceived, socially-embedded notions of white people as a Black person can be.
Don’t believe me? Turn on the news.