A Note on “Reverse Racism”

“Reverse racism” is not a real thing. In order to be racist, a person must posses both racial privilege and power. White people have racial privilege which gives them advantages over people of colour even when they are disadvantage in other areas (e.g., class, gender, etc.). White people also hold positions of power, which essentially means society, culture, politics, the justice system, etc. are all on the side of whites. PoC do not have racial privilege or exert power over white people.

Therefore, prejudice and racism are not the same. While a white person may experience prejudice based on their whiteness, that does not constitute an exercise of racial privilege and power over them – i.e., it’s not racism – because it has no impact on the rest of their lives or on how the rest of society treats them. There is no systematic or institutional disadvantage to white people if a PoC is prejudiced against them.

Additionally, the term “reverse racism” is often thrown around in an attempt to derail discussions about race and racial injustice. Sometimes, it’s used to invalidate the response of PoC to the racism and oppression they face daily. Anger, attempts to rectify racist policies or social/cultural norms, forms of restitution for past racially-based harms/crimes, and the creation safe spaces for PoC without white people are all legitimate responses to racism.

Other times, “reverse racism” is used to make racial discussions about white people and refocus attention and resources toward whites and away from PoC. This only serves to maintain racial disparities and racially-based oppression. 

We hope this helps explain why “reverse racism” rhetoric is in fact racist, and is therefore not tolerated on any of BIAH’s sites.

Thank you,

BIAH admin team 

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