For The Last Time, White People: Reverse Racism Isn't A Thing

For The Last Time, White People: Reverse Racism Isn't A Thing

And you are NOT the victim.
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No, actually, all white people. It doesn’t matter if you’re the only white kid in a black school, or if you have “a lot” of black friends, or that your great great great grandpappy was an Irish slave:

If you are white, you have privileges other people do not have.

This statement is *not* “reverse racism.”

Reverse racism, in fact, does not exist.

“But-but-but-*sniff* someone said a mean thing about white people! That’s racism too! It’s reverse racism!”

“Reverse Racism” is a term used when white people feel like they face discrimination the same as or worse than people of color. Here’s why that’s not a thing:

I’ll set aside the fact that by labeling a pseudo-prejudice against white people as “reversing” racism, you are effectively and accurately defining racism as originating from whiteness. Racism does NOT mean saying mean things about an entire group of people necessarily. Racism is actually defined through the lens of power structures.

It’s the difference between an employee hitting on their boss and a boss hitting on their employee. Both are inappropriate. One is absolutely and completely different. Because of the power the boss has due to the nature of their relationship, this scenario cannot be compared to the first. If the employee feels their job and livelihood is at risk unless they participate, that’s coercion and could potentially lead to rape. If the employee initiates, the boss has no outstanding reason to engage in the flirtatious behavior beyond simple desire to. Again, both aren’t okay. But one is V E R Y different from the other.

So maybe someone said a mean thing about white people. The difference here is that your ancestors have never been historically enslaved. Your ancestors weren’t secretly medically tested on without their consent countless times since this Nation’s nascency. You are not more likely to be arrested and convicted of the same crimes as black men. You make more money on average than latina women. You are the least likely to be murdered by police.

I could continue.

These are systems. These systems oppress people of color and facilitate white people to move more easily through life. They make it easier for white people to get jobs, get an education, find housing, and make money to pass on to their future generations. This does not mean white people have everything easy and no struggles in their lives. It means you won’t have any of the race-related ones. Other factors, like class, gender, sexuality, and many others play intersecting roles in the broader tapestry of this discussion. But you can’t just “reverse” generations of problematic, racist power dynamics with a single "mean” comment.

And let’s be perfectly clear: calling out or discussing racism is not racism. Full stop. While for white people this discussion can feel like a personal attack on their character, the discussion of racism isn’t about you personally. For once the conversation doesn’t center around you (unless you specifically did a racist thing and someone is calling you out--in which case: shut up and listen). Beyonce was not racist for saying “Becky with the good hair.” Saying things about a race isn’t the same as being racist. And being prejudice is not the same as being racist. Discussing disadvantages created by our society helps spread awareness of the imbalance. By calling that “reverse racism” you attempt to end the discussion, end the spread of awareness, and end any progress towards an anti-racist society--all while pretending like you’re the victim of racism. If you truly cared to end racism, you would be listening, not derailing.

So when people say ALL white people? Yeah, you too.

ALL white people receive the benefits of our systemically racist society. Don’t worry, even with affirmative action, white people are still 40% more likely to get private scholarships. And stress not, a white sounding name is 50% more likely to get a job interview than someone with an “ethnic” sounding name. White people even have it easier when it comes to house hunting, especially when PoC aren’t even always shown all the options.

No one is saying YOU cause racism. But you do silently benefit from your whiteness. And you need to do something about that. If your friend gives you an iPad--cool! If he then tells you he stole it from someone--really uncool. If you then shrug and login to iTunes, you’re a terrible person.

No, you didn’t steal anything. But you didn’t do anything to make it right.

Honestly? That’s unacceptable. No, *you* did not enslave black people. But you and your family have silently benefited from being the race with all the power. Your apathy keeps the system moving forward, it keeps PoC marginalized, and it keeps you silently in power. You’re playing Candy Crush on a stolen iPad, that someone else worked hard to earn. Be better. Do better.

Educate yourself on racism. Know what the difference is between “racism,” “discrimination,” and “prejudice.” Most importantly, study power dynamics and listen to the people who have different experiences from you. Otherwise, accept that you are the problem too.

Cover Image Credit: Tori Wills Photography / Flickr

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Social Control

According to Merriam Webster, social control is "the rules and standards of society that circumscribe individual action through the inculcation of conventional sanctions and the imposition of formalized mechanisms." Social norms, rules, laws, and structures within a society are just a few of the methods that keep our society "in-line".

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Informal vs Formal

There are two types of social control. There is informal social control which is enforced by family, peers, teachers, etc. and is often referred to as "socialization". Informal social control refers to values, norms, and belief systems of a society. Then there is formal social control which is enforced by the government through police and military. Formal social control refers to laws of society and topics such as terrorism.

For more information regarding informal and formal social control, check out: Definition of Social Control


Positive Social Control

Positive social control is related to the idea of getting rewarded for good work, rather than be hurt for doing something wrong.

For example, you will be given a raise at work if you prove you deserve it, but you will not be tortured if you don't take that extra step. Socialization is the primary way that social order is kept, and is a perfect example of positive social control. There is also a physical organization to society that keeps everything in harmony. Traffic signals, paved roads, and crosswalks are just a few examples of how physical additions to our everyday lives work together to avoid conflict.

There are many benefits that come along with positive social control as well. Raises, bonuses, and praise are all rewards that come along with following rules and norms.


Negative Social Control

Negative social control is related to the idea of discrimination and/or shame. It uses harsh punishment, torture, pressure, and/or threats to keep the peace and order rather than rewarding good behavior.

For example, Hitler used violence and discrimination to keep the Jews "under control" during the Holocaust.

For more information regarding positive and negative social control, check out: Types of Social Control Formal & Informal, Positive & Negative


Examples of Social Control

Religious Social Control

People who follow a religion tend to develop morals and behavior patterns based on what their religion preaches. These people will avoid committing crimes, hate-speech, or anything else their religion deems as "sinful" in order to avoid punishment during or after their death. Many people tend to believe that religion was created with the sole purpose to control people and keep the social order, while dedicated followers beg to differ.


Economic Social Control

Economic social control is attainable by controlling production or controlling an entire society through their economics (cutting off food supplies, stealing from the poor, etc.) Richer people and industrialists tend to control the lower class and their consumers through status and money.

Wealth = Power


Political Social Control

Political social control is the most influential type of social control. The government regulates money, sources and supplies, the laws, police forces, and many more which when put all together becomes social control. The government balances every aspect of what creates harmony and peace within a society, protecting the people from anarchy.

For more information regarding examples of social control, check out:: Social Control: Meaning, Types and Unfavourable Effect

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