Dear White People? We Can't Be Racist!
So Telling Me, Black People Can't Be Racist?
Preface: This is an opinion piece in direct response to Ola's story entitled, "Reverse racism is just racism." This story is speaking directly to Ola as a written form of debate. The reader would have to read her story first to understand this story/rebuttal.
After reading the opinion piece entitled "Reverse is Just Racism," there is a need to point out significant flaws in this argument while proving that black people can never be racists by any definition. By definition, black people can not be racist ( I do not use the term African American because that term is for a person that can trace their roots in 3 generations or less back to Africa. Thus most people in America are black, not African American); first, we must understand that the word racism is relatively new, only dating back to the early 20th century. With that in mind, we can see the word has changed and differs from one brand of dictionary to the next one. So the definition that's given, "the existence of a power imbalance which is a consequence of 'systematic historical' oppression," was at one time the definition of racism. Therefore, by definition, minorities could not be racists because, in Ola words, "minority's inability to be racist towards white people because minorities cannot possibly be racist to those who directly 'or' indirectly contributed and benefited from their systematic oppression." The question then becomes, how did one brand of dictionary reach the definition quoted from google? In addition to that question by the quoted definition, could black people be racist?
The people who gather information to compile a dictionary or come up with its definition are, Lexicographers. Merriam-Webster states,
"Dictionaries are often treated as the final arbiter in arguments over a word's meaning, but they are not always well suited for settling disputes. The lexicographer's role is to explain how words are (or have been) actually used, not how some may feel that they should be used, and they say nothing about the intrinsic nature of the thing named by a word, much less the significance it may have for individuals. When discussing concepts like racism, therefore, it is prudent to recognize that quoting from a dictionary is unlikely to either mollify or persuade the person with whom one is arguing."
We can agree with where the definition comes from; it is just a collection of how the word is popularly used rather than the actual agreed-upon meaning at its origin, which means that minorities are a smaller group of people then majorities. Thus this "meaning" would have a more significant collection from people that are not black or brown, knowing that the suggested meaning of racism would be modified to allow the majority a leg to stand on in the discussion on racism. Nevertheless, as we discover, dictionaries have no place in a debate because of how the information is gathered. In its basic form, a dictionary is nothing more than a glorified Wikipedia that is more widely accepted, thus making it a scholarly tool.
However, for the sake of argument, being that the central premise is that by definition, black people can now be racist. Based on a google search, the definition given stated, "prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior." The two words that we must agree on in order to proceed are race and superior. There is no real definition of race, primarily because it is a social construct that starts to gain a popular meaning when the United States came to be founded and organized. Britannica states about race, "the idea that the human species is divided into distinct groups on the basis of inherited physical and behavioral differences. 'In the late 20th century, genetic studies refuted the existence of biogenetically distinct races, and scholars now argue that 'races' are cultural interventions that reflect specific attitudes and beliefs that were imposed on different populations in the wake of western European conquests beginning in the 15th century'." Meaning that race is only defined by what other people see others as, not a physical attribute that can reasonably link people together. Understanding that the only way the title of the piece can be exact is that there is no such thing as reverse racism because there is no such thing as race. That ideal of race in America only exists to set up a hierarchy, an American Apartheid, if you will to group people into a class system, where white people would always be of the higher class, Nobles if you will. Michael O' Malley, from Ferris University, wrote a piece entitled "A blood Red Record: the 1890s and American Apartheid" he said,
"We will begin with a premise: that there is no such thing as "race." This may seem ridiculous--look around, professor! People are different races! We all understand what "race" means, but our understanding usually doesn't hold up under careful scrutiny. For one thing, scientists have no good definitions of "race." The term is not used, for example, to classify animals. No one talks about the "race" of Australian border collies. "Race" is a social construct, something we humans invented to make sense of the difference between people. It works in a very general way, but it's not stable. For example, what is the child of a black father and a white mother? When does a dark-skinned Latino man become a black man? Are Asian Indians white or black? When do American Indians stop being Asian? What would you call Tiger Woods? Americans see this problem most explicitly today in children of mixed parentage. Lenny Kravitz and the former "Prince" are two good examples--as people of "mixed-race," they tend to be sort of confusing. The simplistic idea of "race" cannot account for them.
There are many "multi-racial" societies in the world--Brazil, South Africa, and the former Soviet Union are only a few of the many nations with mixed populations. Most multi-racial societies set up a special category for persons of mixed "race." South Africa, for example, had three basic categories: white, black, and "colored." Colored people generally enjoyed a higher status than dark people did; the lighter they were, the higher their status. The United States has been mostly unique in insisting that everyone be either one race or another."
Since the inception of this country, the idea that black people were the bottom class of society, But could try to move up in our class system the lighter you were and how straight your hair could be in its most natural state. To protect this class system and try to keep people from passing, the United States comes up with a 1/16 rule or the one-drop rule. It states that no matter how straight the hair or how light the skin, the race listed is black. If one drop (1/16) of Black blood in the body, then the race was determined to be black! Thereby preserving this class system. Every game has rules; once said, you must know the rules of the game to understand how to break them and win. This Notion observed by many wealthy black people doing slavery times.
Many wealthy Black would own slaves, but not in the standard American way. Because slaves took the last name of their owners, most of the slaves that black owners would buy would be family members that sold to different white owners. Those that were not already family or very close friends were the family of their spouse, mainly their wife's family. To the mass public, it would look like a regular functioning plantation but operate more like sharecroppers. Hence, how the ideal quickly developed after emancipation. As a black man in America, I was always proud that my family never was slaves; those that did get caught and sold illegally into slavery quickly found and purchased back. One of the many things that are great about being Black German American is that most of all, my relatives on both sides held homes in the new world but made their money in the old. It was not bad for a family that created their own country when ruling got expensive rejoining Germany after a small war.
Concluding that by definition, quoted black people can never be racist! The oppression manifest in other ways. You cannot be good, you must be great. You have to be excellent even to get a fair shake of things. These ideas have been indoctrinated in the black community for years, no matter how we try to get it removed. That ideal is one that is shared by all black people's conscience or sub-conscience. We are giving these reminders since the beginning of this country. Anyone that was not white was less than them. Take painting and cartoons, what color is the devil? The bible describes the devil as a beautiful, fallen angel. He was so beautiful they called him the morning star. How did this pointy horn red man come about? What is delightful throughout history, the devil was not always red.
The devil changed color when early settlers came in contact with Native Americans (or indigenous people). Before this contact, the devil was black. Again an example of how the idea that white people are superior and black or people of color are inferior. Therefore, making it impossible based on the belief created by early settlers, reinforced in the heads of people of color, could never be superior. Thus without the belief of being superior, racism could never be achieved base on the definition given above. Black People can not be racist by definition. However, we can believe in stereotypes. We are not racist; we believe profoundly in stereotypes.