Friday, September 18, 2015

Black people can't be racist

Or so I have been told already numerous times by people who believe the nonsense they read on places like Gawker, Jezebel and other blogs and social media accounts of social justice warriors. But is this really true? Let's have a look at the dictionary definition first:

Dictionary definition

Let's look first at the Oxford Dictionaries definition of racism:
Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior:
The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races
From the dictionary definition alone, it seems that there is nothing that precludes black people from being or acting racist. This has not prevented all kind of social justice warriors to come up with various redefinitions of the term, redefinitions specifically tailored to suit their agenda. Some are living in denial of the basic fact that they are redefining the definition, some are not.

Redefinition fail #1

One of the more hilarious discussions I have had with a person claiming black people can not be racist, revolved around the following tenet: black people can not be racist because they are the minority. There are two things wrong with this:

  1. black people are the majority in some countries and have performed their own ethnic cleansing, think for example Idi Amin and the expulsion of Asians from Uganda.
  2. according to that definition, the white minority of South Africa under Apartheid was not racist.

These people could NOT have been racist due to being a minority, or so I've been told
This led the person to revise his own definition to one that is more in line with one used by social justice warriors and that does not use the distinction majority/minority. Let's look at two of these more common redefinitions.

Redefinition fail #2

A somewhat more clever redefinition (sometimes social justice warriors admit they change the dictionary definition, claiming it is wrong) of racism introduces the element of institutional power. The argument goes that white people enjoy a preferential treatment by institutions like the police and the justice system. Let's have a look at an example at a social justice warrior's Tumblr:

no, they cannot. there is an inherent logical fallacy in your argument that will never make it true. however, white people can be discrimated against. discrimination is different from racism.
let’s start from the beginning. your first step is to accept that “a hatred or intolerance of another race” is not the definition of racism. the dictionary is wrong. get over it.
racism is when intolerance in government laws, attitudes and ideals of a society are ingrained in a culture to the point where patterns of discrimination towards a certain race are institutionalized as normal. if you keep this in mind, you’ll understand that reverse racism doesn’t- and can’t- exist.
There is an element of truth in this. Black people are getting harsher sentences than white people for similar crimes and there seems to be a difference in the number of cases of police brutality when it concerns white or black offenders. A correction however does need to be applied due to other reasons: it seems reasonable to assume white people can afford a better defense lawyer for example and the number of black criminals is often higher than the number of white criminals, adjusting for racial make up that is.

The biggest problem with this redefinition is that "patterns of discrimination towards a certain race" by government and other institutions are actually outlawed in many countries including the US (14th Amendment to be specific). As a matter of fact, despite this, the only real institutionalized race based actions that are (pseudo) legal these days are affirmative action programs. When you point this blatant hypocrisy out to social justice warriors, they will say that these kind of programs only level the playing field (if they are nice) or that white people are given a taste of their own medicine and merely complain of losing their "privilege" (if they are not nice, usually the latter). Often accompanied with GIFs such as the world's tiniest violin or image variations of white tears.

Nice GIF though
Nevertheless, the point remains that institutionalized racism hardly exists and there are only minor arguments pro and contra this point. On top of that, it is most likely that even in a future where white people become a minority and these very institutions will be majority non white populated, white people will still have lower sentences for similar crimes and lower amount of police brutality due to previously mentioned reasons. As such, this redefinition is a fail.

Redefinition fail #3

Another more clever redefinition of racism introduces the element of power dynamics in general:

there is another saying “racism (or sexism) = prejudice + power. poc (people of color) can be prejudiced against white people. but they can never have power, i.e. a whole system of structured support that backs them. white people often don’t understand how much power they have. just one white person has more power to do actual harm to a black person than one hundred black people do to that white person. a white person can kill a black person without any consequences, while if the situation was reversed you can bet the killer wouldn’t see the outside of a prison cell for a long, long time.
when white people complain about reverse racism, they are not complaining about losing their rights. what they are complaining about is losing their privilege. white people can never call someone else racist against them because that ‘someone else’ does not have the power to oppress them. the person has the power to be hurt feelings.but not to oppress.
that is the key difference. when a poc is mean to you, they are just being mean to you. their entire society is not actively discriminating against and oppressing you. their society is not one where it is difficult for them to not be racist against you.
This definition is again arbitrary and shows a staggering amount of victimhood and persecution complex. White people can't just shoot black people on the street anyhow without consequences, this is an oversimplification and a gross exaggeration. At most white police officers have a chance of getting away with this when independent cameras are not around. Black people can hold positions of power and can discriminate against white subordinates. Black people are routinely calling e.g. Latino bosses that discriminate against black subordinates racist, yet Latinos don't have magical "power structures" watching over them. And when a group of black people gang up on one or two white people, I wonder why these white people never use their mythical powers in self defense.

Racist white guy uses his powers of oppression to discriminate against a black man's foot

A nice video explaining this

Paul Joseph Watson of Prison Planet made a nice video on this topic when MTV aired their version of the "Black people can't be racist" trope. You should really check it out, he can be quite funny and really point out the bullshit.

No comments:

Post a Comment