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Understanding Reverse Racism and its impact

We made significant progress in fighting racism and establishing social harmony and good relations among groups of people. We hope that things like discrimination, exclusion, unfair treatment of the marginalized, minorities, and other races will become history, a thing of the past. So far, we can be optimistic that we are indeed getting there.

Despite that, some tried to turn back the hands of time and go back to the bygone era of racism and discrimination. Not only that, however. The fight against racism and for social justice has been used and hijacked to promote the very idea of racism itself.

The very success of the fight against racism led to the accusations that those engaged in it and fighting for equal rights and equal opportunities are themselves guilty of discrimination and racism. They are accused of practicing racism, not against blacks, but this time, against the whites.

Reverse Racism Definition

Reverse racism is the idea that whites are also victims of discrimination and victimized because of their color. In much the same way that blacks are being victimized and discriminated against because of their race. The claim is that they are as disadvantaged as the blacks and other minorities as well.

In this context, it is necessary to define what “racism” is. To define it, even loosely, racism is the discrimination, oppression, exclusion of people, even dehumanization of people because they belong to a particular race. In the American context, victims of discrimination are the blacks. The ideology of racism is deeply into society and the body politic.

Those who are victims of racism suffer injustice, forms of racial discrimination, unequal opportunities, and social inequality systematically and at the institutional level. These are not just an issue of being liked or not: their oppression and victimization occur through social and institutional policies.

Those who believe in reverse racism, that it is indeed true and happening, asserts, in effect, that white people also experience those things mentioned. White people are also victims, that they are being oppressed and marginalized, just like the blacks and other cultural minorities. They are also subject to racial, social, and institutional oppression. These are the claims of its believers.

History of reverse racism

Reverse racism has a long history. One can go back to the end of the Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. The Civil War ended institutional slavery in the United States, but it did not lead to radical changes for the better, especially for blacks. The remnants of the slavery institution are far more enduring than the opponents of slavery suppose.

Worse, racist countermand every progress towards equality against racism by the blacks. The nation heard the first rumblings of reverse racism when the campaign for equal rights began. The accusation was that equal rights and opportunities for blacks deprived and victimized the whites, or so their logic goes.

But you cannot turn back history. Even as racism, oppression, injustice persists, there are victories now and then. Ultimately, the nation tore down, albeit slowly, more and more vestiges of racism. As society became more enlightened, the fight for social justice, equality, and inclusion gained momentum and resulted in substantial reform, especially during the late twentieth century.

Since then, the nation has passed laws and legislation for equal protection and anti-discrimination. But, with every success against racism, shouts of reverse racism become more shrilling. We can say that this culminated in the victory of Donald Trump, probably one of the most racist presidents the United States has in recent memory.

Now, with racial violence against blacks more pronounced, moves for inclusion, equal rights, and equity are being drowned by the chorus coming from some whites who argued about reverse racism. They say that the rights must be for everyone, not just for blacks.

But are there some truths behind accusations of those who argued that there is reverse racism in America?

Myths about reverse racism

The idea that reverse racism exists in America is a myth but a powerful one. Looking at the institutions and the power relations in American society closely, the idea that reverse racism exists flies in the face of facts. But before we discuss its implication, we must look at the myths and dismantle them one by one.

“They take away our jobs”

It is one of the prevailing, persistent myths regarding reverse racism. They claim that the fight for social equality and against racism resulted in prioritizing people of color, particularly the blacks, against the whites, especially regarding jobs, scholarships, and other benefits. Affirmative action resulted in disenfranchising whites.

Nothing can be farther from the truth. That the whites do lose jobs is more of a consequence of the economic conditions than because of the system and the institutional setup of which the whites remain privileged compared to blacks and other people of color. All the statistics and data regarding employment show that this is not only a myth but an outright lie.

What usually happens here is that incidences of whites losing jobs are generalized as symptoms of reverse racism, usually with utter disregard for context and specific conditions. People do lose jobs, which is a fact, but overall, the number of jobs and employment opportunities favored the whites over the blacks.

The odds were against the people of color despite affirmative action due not only to the policies regarding employment and prejudices against race. It is also due to educational opportunities that usually privileged the whites against the blacks. Educational opportunities lead to employment, so fewer opportunities for education, fewer opportunities for jobs.

Crimes against whites are hate crimes

Believers of reverse racism contend that crimes against whites committed by blacks are not only crimes against property or persons but constitute a hate crime. They claim it is similar to others’ experience when they suffer crimes due to their belongingness to a particular race, minorities, or gender. In short, there are crimes against whites because they are hated.

No study ever shows that this is the case. Evidence suggests that crimes against whites are committed mainly by whites, too, instead of the people of color. And this is even more true regarding crimes where “hate” may factor, one way or another: homicide and murder.

An FBI report claims more than 80 percent of crimes of murder and homicide were by whites against fellow whites. Some blacks commit crimes against whites, undoubtedly true, but this is not because they hated the whites or explicitly targeting white people. If ever, the reverse is true. Blacks were the usual victims of violence, even by white police.

But again, this myth persists and is being preached by proponents of reverse racism as gospel truth. Without presenting any data or evidence, except anecdotal ones, they propagate the myth that crimes committed by blacks against whites are widespread throughout America. Worse, they present it as proof that blacks hate the whites, which is not valid.

Far-reaching implications

The implications and consequences of these myths are tragic. First, the myths propagate the usual stereotypes regarding blacks that fuel racism in the first place. They are out to take jobs and other privileges from the whites, that they hated the whites etc. These ideas and stereotypes, untrue and outright lies, still found resonance in the myths of reverse racism.

Second, and more dangerously, the myth would undermine the fight against racism, discrimination, and exclusion. Reverse racism is only one of those myths regarding marginalized people as a whole.

Giving credence to myths like reverse racism will fuel similar ones against other minorities and other discriminated people like women and members of the LGBTQ+ community.

The hard-earned victories against racism and discrimination would be for naught if the myths such as those of reverse racism found publicity and acceptance and received as valid truths. It will throw us back to those times when discrimination and racism are a public norm and generally accepted.

The truth behind reverse racism

And this now brings us to the truth behind the idea of reverse racism. Why is there reverse racism? As mentioned above, reverse racism emerged in America just as the fight against racism and discrimination against blacks started. In short, reverse racism is a reaction, albeit a dangerous and violent one, to campaign to end racism and discrimination in America.

Therefore, it is not an accident that proponents of reverse racism are publicly known to be racists or harboring racist tendencies. No self-respecting academic or intellectual has given credence to reverse racism or any of its myths. It is the case because there is evidence or data to back up reverse racism.

If there is something that backs up reverse racism and all of the myths associated with it, it is the prejudices and bigotry of the racists. Indeed, all the data and evidence proved the contrary: despite progress and success in the fight against racism, discrimination, exclusion, vestiges of it still there. Racism is still prevalent in America.

How to stop reverse racism myths?

Below are some of the significant ways to stop reverse racism myths:

Education about diversity

We must not stop educating people about diversity, inclusion, and social equality. We must continue to campaign for the elimination of racism and its vestiges. No stone must be left unturned in our fight for social reform, and we must utilize everything available, mass media, educational institutions, and public forums to advance our cause.

In educating them, we must first and foremost make people understand the underlying principles of democracy, human rights, and social justice, which are the foundations of our society. The fight against racism, discrimination, and exclusion is a fight that all of us must engage. For in opposing them, we are strengthening the foundations of our society.

Proponents of reverse racism and its myths usually resort to propaganda, prejudices, and people’s biases to advance their cause. We must counter the propaganda with data, evidence, and knowledge. Myths, propaganda, and outright lies are no match for education, knowledge, sound reasoning, and judgment.

People must also be made aware of the tangible benefits of eliminating racism; for ourselves, the community, and the nation. It will lead to better race relations and social harmony among members of the community. In itself, fighting for democratic principles is worth it, but it is so because it benefits the community as a whole.

Cultural diversity training

Aside from educating people, members of the community must have practical training to be more receptive to the ideas of diversity and inclusion. They must be active participants in the campaign for social reform and help educate others for better race relations, which is vital in eventually eliminating racism.

Communities and institutions must provide the environment for cultural diversity training. They can organize seminars and symposiums to educate ordinary people and leaders of the community to educate the public about racism in general and reverse racism in particular. The seminars may be about how to improve relations or about the perils of reverse racism itself.

Institutions could also conduct skills training for leaders of the community, heads of institutions, leaders in business and corporations. The training will provide techniques to handle problems concerning race relations and racism in their respective fields. They can impart their knowledge to other people.

Create more diverse companies

We must utilize training and education to create more diverse companies to benefit the marginalized and discriminated against and the general community. Diverse companies will allow us to even the playing field and serve as a counterweight to others who still promote racist policies, exclusion, and discrimination policies.

Serving as a counterweight will be just preliminary to delegitimizing those companies, for the goal is to eventually dismantle those racist policies and discriminatory practices. Diverse companies will ultimately serve as an example and guide how to successfully implement diversity policies in the workplace and corporations.

Hire more diverse talent

Diverse companies should take the lead in hiring talents and workers from minorities, blacks and people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Aside from them, however, social institutions, business, and education sectors must also hire diverse talents. They must provide the environment, some incentives if possible, to convince them to be diverse.

Remove bias (conscious and unconscious)

Biases and prejudices about race are still present in some people. We must make them aware of their biases so as for them to change their ways. Sometimes, people are not even aware of it due to socialization and upbringing. We have to remind them of their prejudices, for recognizing those attitudes is the first step towards eliminating them.

One example of it is cultural appropriation. Here, members of a dominant group or race adopt customs or elements of culture outside of its proper context and use. Most of the time, they are practically ignorant of the proper context. Its practice, innocent as it may seem, is disrespectful and may also exploit the appropriated culture.

We must remind our fellows that it is inappropriate or if they have already crossed the line. They can only remove the biases if we make them aware of having of it and its inappropriateness. Reminding them of it, then, will go a long way in eliminating tendencies, prejudices, and biases.

But in doing so, we must apply what we may have learned in cultural diversity training and education about racism to remove biases and prejudices effectively. We must also encourage others to do the same and make their fellows aware of biases as a first step of eliminating them.

Conclusion: stop making reverse racism a thing

As we have argued, there is no such thing as reverse racism. All the campaigns for social reform, resulting in the progress in the treatment of people of color and better race relations, do not negatively impact the whites. Truth be told, though we won some victories and made significant strides, we still have a lot of work to do to improve the status of blacks and people of color.

So not only reverse racism unsupported by facts, data, and evidence, the social structure itself, on the whole, predominantly favors white people. Actual racism, contrary to reverse racism, still exists, and data and evidence support it. The recent spate of violence against black people committed by state authorities attests to this simple fact.

The whites have no reason to feel oppressed, marginalized, disenfranchised because it is simply not true. The odds are still against the blacks and people of color, and whites, in general, still benefit from the system as a whole. This, again despite successes in our fight for diversity, inclusion, and social equality.

So stop making a thing of reverse racism. These are just myths and outright lies propagated by those who want to return to an earlier age when racism and discrimination are prevalent in society. We must consign racism to the past if we want to move forward as a society and a nation. We must leave it there behind and destroy all of its remaining vestiges.

Reverse Racism Guide

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About the author

Jess Man

Jessica is the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Diversity Advisor at Diversity Social. Jessica has over 10 years of working with and advising employers to be more diverse and create an inclusive working environment.
Jessica's experience spans private and non-profit sectors in multiple industries.
Jessica's expertise experience is beyond Diversity & Inclusion, she is also a certified professional IT recruiter in Data & Analytics, Database administration, Artificial Intelligence area.