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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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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I'm Not Voting, And Guess What, That Is OK

To all of the recent political endorsements by celebrities and Facebook posts telling me I should register to vote, I'm not voting.

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I am not the type of person to normally ever write a Facebook post related to politics, yet here I am dedicating a whole article to it. Or rather about voting itself, not my political affiliation. For the most part, I like to keep my political outlooks to myself instead of broadcasting them to all of my friends, family, coworkers, and that handful of people I do not actually know but I accepted their friend request anyway. Instead, I grace this group of people with animal videos because it doesn't cause any friction, the videos are always light-hearted, and there are already so many other people posting about the next election.

But tonight that changed. I saw a post about how people who do not vote should be fined. I do not know why this ignited something in me, but it did. I have no problem ignoring every other person telling me to register to vote or vote a hundred times on my feed, but charging me a fine for exercising my right crossed a line.

Quite frankly, I do not identify as a liberal democrat or conservative republican so I should not be subjected to vote for either. I choose not to vote because I do not support either side of the political spectrum and I do not think any of the candidates are true to what I want in the future of my country. There are some ideas I like from Democrats as well as some ideas I like from Republicans, but because of the political climate in recent years, the political parties are becoming more polarized than ever with their ideas, and instead of seeking a moderate stance, are becoming more extreme. I understand that voting is seen as a civic responsibility that comes with being a U.S. citizen, but I have the right to vote not the obligation to vote, and people should respect that decision.

Can you imagine amending the constitution to include penalties for not voting? Where is the democracy in forcing citizens to the ballots via scare tactics? I just do not want to be forced into voting or supporting something that I do not believe in. I will vote when there is a candidate that earns my vote and that I support instead of voting just to vote.

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