We all know, and can generally identify, what “Racism” is and what it means and how it hurts all of us — but what is that thing some people call “Reverse Racism?”


“Reverse Racism,” in my observation, has been used by Whites to describe “Racist” treatment aimed at them by anyone with a darker skin color. 

My question is this:  Isn’t “Reverse Racism” just plain “Racism?”

What’s the point of adding “Reverse” to “Racism” — is it because one wants to make a political point instead of accurately defining a cultural and linguistic reality?

Racism is universal while “Reverse Racism” seems to be the pure domain of the thin-skinned, White-fleshed, temporary majority and, I might add — invoking “Reverse Racism” is a Racist act in itself.

15 Comments

  1. I abhor the use of the term “Reverse Racism” and have since I first heard it uttered in 1992. I was a high school sophomore and it was a topic of discussion — some people called “affirmitive action” reverse racism and I loudly challenged them — why were they using that term when racism was racism regardless of who was doing the discriminating.

  2. Yes, it’s as if Whites can’t use “Racism” to describe the Racism against them — they need to re-imagine the basic idea with a whole new “Reverse Racism” label — which seems perverse to me. Thanks for that interesting link from Time! The world was certainly a different place in 1994.

  3. I have a different POV on this. Although I 00% agree that racism is racism period.. I think the reason many people use the term reverse is sometimes due to something entirely different than what is reflected here.
    Some white people have a tremendous amount of white guilt. They can be as color blind as is humanly possible and still be very aware of the fact that they are white and that they are seen..
    ((Sidebar- It’s interesting.. Even though I know who I am as I write this I am nervous to speak (white guilt)—))
    .. that they are seen as being the oppressors. As being the ones who are racist. This is a timely subject for me as I just today had the worst racial scenario in my life happen (thus the looking up blogs on the subject). While I have never used the term reverse racism I would hesitate to use the word racist in my direction as well. It just feels like a word that we as a society pretty much agree should be assigned to whites.
    Today my best friend (he is black)’s girlfriend (she is Puerto Rican) accused me of being a “white elitist &$%*” b/c I was getting tense about her check bouncing and having an accident in my car and not taking care of it (she did not tell me about it, incurred $1400 in damage, etc.). She said I was treating her as if she was a slave picking cotton on a plantation (b/c I asked her for a statement in writing saying she would take care of the accident). It is insane to have to point this out but- this woman knows who the people in my life are.. I am about as multi cultural in orientation as they come. But yet I was treating her… I can’t even say it again. Think I can only say it here out loud as none of you know me. She painted the picture of me being a rick spoiled girl when in fact she was once a famous MTV VJ and in a top 40 girl group- she is the one who had the bank/ fame/ privilege. This is not to discount what she may have gone through as a Puerto Rican woman (this is what I mean, I feel I need to defend/explain even when no one is asking) but I was raised by two parents who were dirt poor when I was a kid.

    Point being- although she is obviously judging me b/c I am white I would never, ever have responded to her that she is a racist. As a matter a fact I think her boyfriend, my friend, once told me b/c of the way the structure of this country is built for a white person to use the term “racist” referring to them would be incorrect. The structure is set up for white people to be in power (this is my friend saying this).. so the term racism cannot be true inherently in a sense due to the power structure.

    So I want to even out the perspective and suggest sometimes people fear saying out loud that someone thinks unkind due to say me being a white woman, because I inherently feel like I don’t have the right to.
    Not saying I am correct in that feeling but it is definitely a feeling I carry around with me.

    1. Hi Lela and welcome to WordPunk!

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or beautiful or talented — what your “friend” did was wrong in any circumstance, and she knows that — so she felt she had to take the low, ugly, easy, road and put you on the social defensive: You’re a Racist!

      The kinder way would’ve been to own her mistakes, apologize, and make a payment plan with you.

      Unfortunately, she is no friend of yours, but the sickening part of it all is that she will use that Racist cudgel against you at every opportunity to hurt you as she has felt you have harmed her — just by asking her to own her actions and pay for her bad behavior. That will be the test of your shared relationships.

      The one good thing that will come out of this mess is that you will clearly see who is interested in the truth and doing the right thing and who is interested in playing the Race card. Then you pick the good, moral, people, and race away with them into the sunset.

  4. This post interests me, because I, like Lela, have found that a “minority” is more apt to shout the word racist when they feel something is amiss.

    My father worked in law enforcement, and it was very apparent to me throughout my childhood that some people were, to use my vocabulary at the time, bad guys.

    However, it’s not just the bad guys that seem to use this excuse. I’ve been in situations where I’ve had to defend (verbally, not physically) myself from a group of people who, because I had made a mistake or asked them a question that could be taken a different way than I had intended, were bowing up to me, calling me a racist.

    I feel that “whites,” which, by the way, is just as labeling as a white person calling a Latin American person Hispanic, feel that they are always on the defensive. Whenever I’m talking to my black friends, I feel like I have to jump through hoops to avoid making any comment that could be even mildly racist, just because I feel that overpowering sense of, as Lela so eloquently put it, “white guilt.”

    The problem here is not that white people are making a misnomer of racism. It appears that there are other things at work here. Yes, white people do feel racism from other minorities, and, as I think Lela was trying to say, don’t want to have to stand up and call that person or those people racist for fear of being called a racist.

    The biggest problem is that this society knows about the history of America, although not everyone, unfortunately, knows all of it. Yes, three hundred years ago, white Europeans did bring slaves from Africa to America, and keep them as slaves for another hundred years. Yes, it was very bad, and bred a lot of hatred between the two cultures. However, there’s a part that, sadly, many black people (and a lot of other races), forget.

    We came to our senses. Well, most of us. We stopped the cruelty and tried to make up for it. It was a slow process, still is a slow process, but we are growing as people who are learning increasingly more about ourselves and about our pasts.

    And this brings us back to the question at hand. What’s wrong with society?

    Everyone makes the white people out to be the evil because they enslaved the black people.

    That’s a fact. Notice, I’m not victimizing my race. I’m simply stating a relevant fact.

    That’s why there is this issue of “reverse racism.” Everyone says the white people are racist, but it’s the white people who, USUALLY, are the ones trying to be the least racist.

    I wish the world would just open their eyes already and oust all the petty bigotry and hatred. The world’s a mosh pit of people pursuing what they think is right, and it’s amazing how little of what they think is good actually benefits anyone but themselves.

  5. I want to make a quick response to daboozies seeming to think I am saying minorities are more apt to use the term racist. I am not sure I would go that far.
    I can really only speak for myself and say that even in the case I outlined in which a woman called me a white elitist bitch treating her like she is picking cotton b/c I was asking her to pay the past due bills she accrued on my car. She had had an accident in it, had lost my stickers, etc. and she sent me a page long essay on me thinking I am better than her because I am white.
    It was unexpected as of course the fact that she is Puerto Rican had nothing to do with my asking her to pay her bills now affecting my credit not to mention fix the damage on my car.

    And in this case and in other lessor cases I have opted not to say- hey, you are being racist.. b/c I am white. I feel somehow I am not allowed to do that and as mentioned previously a best friend of mine, who is black, informed me there is the viewpoint amongst many black people that the way the system is set up in this country, the hierarchy we as white people don’t see that exists, it is an impossibility for us to be the ones on the receiving end of racism as we always have the upper hand societally speaking. I am not saying I agree but this is nonetheless an opinion he holds and he is of the African American race thus I am cognizant of it.
    And I know in this case had I called the woman in question Id@!1$ a racist she would no doubt have come after me in fury for having dared used that term. Since my last post I have discontinued any contact with her and have decided should I run into her upon my return to LA or she ask me why I took her off my social networking sites, etc. I am going to be very clear and indeed dare to say this incident crossed the line, as it did. If it comes down I will try to remember to come back and report on what happened.

    So I am not so much speaking on the tendencies of other races but more I think on the observation of my reaction to such things. My general unwillingness to call something like this what it is for the inherent guilt I carry around due to the color of my skin and the obvious perception some people have of me because of it.

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