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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reverse Racism

It is odd that when I talk about racism to a white person, I almost always hear a story detailing how that person has been discriminated against, or treated unfairly by a person of color. Maybe she was passed up for a job and a black person got it instead. Maybe someone one called him 'honky' (what a weird word...ouch?). Maybe it was just a hostile attitude that you sensed.

Inevitably though, a version of the same story comes up. No doubt discrimination and prejudice against white people happens--I just question whether the handful of distinct events that my white bothers and sisters experience really stack up to the day to day grind of racism that our POC siblings face.
A picture of the invisible knapsack

Me personally? I really can't say that I have ever experienced racial prejudice against me. I have experienced angry words of pain and frustration linked to my skin color. Or perhaps, some black folk might have been distrustful of me as a white person. So maybe I was stereotyped there (perhaps deservedly). But it certainly didn't affect my self-esteem or impact life if any long-lasting way. To some extent, I can't ever know if I have been the victim of prejudice. That is one reason it is so vicious. It leaves its potential victims wondering, guessing, and self-questioning.

But let me make one thing clear: I know I have NEVER been a victim of racism.  As I have mentioned before, I ascribe to Dr. Tatum's definition of racism: Benefiting (consciously or not, willingly or not), from an institutionalized system that rewards members of the majority culture. Sure, I might get thrown an angry glare every now and again, but check out this list of all the things I don't have to worry about!

Check out what Tim Wise has to say on the matter of reverse discrimination (specifically about racial slurs)--thanks to City Athena for that one! Also one from her, a Racialicious article.  And to see REAL reversal of situations check out Tim Wise here.

Remember how Jesus conducted himself in His life. His incredibly humble nature gives us a picture of how we should interact with the world. Clearly, of anyone, He would be the most deserving of a promotion, the one most worthy of respect, clearly in a superior position to us all. And yet He chose to humble Himself--thoroughly debase himself. How much more so should we humble ourselves--we that only THINK our own issues are the most important? Wash each others' feet. Stop trying to claim that yours are the most dirty.

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6 comments:

  1. Interesting post!

    I've lived as an "alien" in foreign countries for 15 years now, and I must say I have a definite prejudice against people from my own race or from my own country.

    To some extent, this is justifiable. My countrymen gossip too much. They have no concept of privacy, and impose their social rules upon each other, which can be quite stifling to one's sense of individuality. They sometimes hang around in large groups that attract unnecessary attention. It can be difficult to work with them because not only do they not care about precision in language, they actively eschew it. And most of the insults I've ever had have come from fellow Asians.

    Well, I've had the most bad experiences with this group of people -- but could that simply because I've spent the most time with them and I've become acquainted with their bad habits? Could it just be a matter of "familiarity breeding contempt"?

    Maybe that could be a reason why some of us practise reverse discrimination. Just a thought....

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  2. Ha! You fixed the spelling! ^_^

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  3. what about your countrywomen?

    Do find your observations to be true only of your compatriots when they are in other countries of is it also the case when in their own country? Sometimes clustering in groups of familiarity is a very helpful defense mechanism when one is in a foreign place or in the minority.

    Thanks for the post. I appreciate your candid observations.

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  4. Oh, yes, "compatriots" is a more inclusive term, isn't it? I hadn't thought of it.

    We gossip everywhere we are. "Clustering in groups" is what we do in foreign countries. Yes, sticking together can be a useful way to share resources and information, but ultimately it is bad for the minority group and bad for society as a whole. People need to learn to integrate. I don't mean complete assimilation... but "segregation" is not the same as "diversity"!

    I won't even begin to comment on racism in my home country (that is a whole new story that I'm lucky to be out of, and as a result I don't know much about it first hand.)

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  5. what about your countrywomen?

    Do find your observations to be true only of your compatriots when they are in other countries of is it also the case when in their own country? Sometimes clustering in groups of familiarity is a very helpful defense mechanism when one is in a foreign place or in the minority.

    Thanks for the post. I appreciate your candid observations.

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  6. Let me acknowledge that when an issue of race comes up, I am probably more likely to "side" with the predominant black opinion than that of the white opinion. It is a bias that I have and sometimes it may spill over into debates outside of racial issues. For better or for worse, it is the perspective from which I come. But you, know, there is plenty of white bias out there. If the pendulum has to swing the other way for a bit before it can come to rest, then so be it. Sometimes, when you are trying to focus on truth, you have to adjust the lens past the focal plane to know where the center is to get the best resolution.

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By Their Strange Fruit by Katelin H is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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