Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime performance added more fuel to the conversation about racism in America. Once again, whites had an excuse to believe racism has ceased to exist against blacks, and is instead directed at them. Many have even begun enforcing the narrative that racism against blacks is over, and blacks have just as many advantages as their white counterparts in “post-racial” America.
“Reverse racism” is colloquially defined by some as discrimination against a dominant group representative of the majority, as an attempt at redressing past wrongs — or more simply put: perceived discrimination against white people.
In order to define why reverse racism is not real, it is important to unpack the definition of racism.
According to Webster, racism is the belief that members of a particular race possess characteristics that distinguish it as inferior to another race. This involves prejudice, discrimination and antagonism directed at someone of a different race, based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.
The concept of reverse racism is a baseless allegation, and simply another attempt for racists to redirect the conversation toward whites and away from the issues real racism addresses. Why? Because Blacks — or any other minority– do not hold institutional or systemic power, and thus cannot, by definition, be racist.
In order for someone to be racist, two traits must exist: privilege and power. The term “minority” no longer refers to population size but to a minority of power. Whites maintain a majority in the American power structure because they are most often and historically backed by society and given leeway when it comes to every aspect of their lives. See: white privilege.
Blacks do not posses privilege or power simply because of the systemic oppression we have encountered for centuries at the hands of white people. Whites are not oppressed.
Whites are less likely to be profiled, arrested, imprisoned, impoverished, unemployed or uneducated due to favoritism and normality within the age-old system.
According to the NAACP, African Americans constitute nearly one million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population. Blacks are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites. According to CNN Money, more than one in four blacks live in poverty, at 27.2 percent, while fewer than one in ten whites do, at 9.7 percent.
It is extremely uncomfortable to encounter racist gestures and pretend like I don’t have the right to be upset or uncomfortable.
It is not okay for you to touch my hair or ask if its growing from my roots. No, I do not naturally have blue hair growing out of my scalp. Do not compare me to some black celebrity that I, in actuality, look nothing like or am clearly not related to. Yes, my last name is Houston, but I am not related to Whitney Houston, obviously.
We do have to speak in a tone to cater to your feelings. I know it may be a shock, but everything is not about you. We would like to talk about us for a second and counter all the oppression and discrimination by discussing how we feel, with passion.
Lastly, to refute this reverse racism bullshit, having platforms is not racist. Yet again, everything is not about you. We do not have to include you in our networks, movies, books, shows or anything else for that matter. White people intentionally separated themselves from blacks and diminished their credibility for centuries. It was called segregation. We were not allowed in your schools, bathrooms, movies or restaurants. Now all of a sudden you want to sit at the cool table. Well call me Gretchen Wieners because you can’t sit with us!
Blacks’ legitimate dissatisfaction with the lack of diversity in the Academy stems directly from lack of opportunity. If we cannot be represented or given the opportunity to exist in previously established platforms, it is okay to push our way through how we see fit, or create platforms that do represent our contributions.
After being denied basic human rights for centuries, blacks have created sanctuaries where we can exist safely. BET is not racist, Black Girls Rock is not racist, the NAACP awards are not racist, Beyonce’s half time performance is not racist.
These are mediums to uplift and encourage black existence despite an overarching disproportionality of white spaces.
There was outrage about Beyonce’s performance and its tribute to the Black Panthers and Black Power. The Black Panthers fought and killed for self-defense in order to transform racial oppression. The KKK fought and killed in resistance to Reconstruction policies that gave economic and political equality to blacks.
Racist whites can not complain about the Black Panthers while simultaneously ignoring the KKK. A Facebook post by Victor Bradley expresses these sentiments precisely, stating,
“Until someone can show me a single White child brutally tortured and murdered by the Black Panthers (Emmett Till) a single White women gang raped by Black Panthers (Harriet Smirl), a single White Church firebombed by the Black Panthers (16th Street Baptist Church), a single White man castrated by the Black Panthers (Judge Aaron)… a single White man who was tied to the back of a truck and dragged along the asphalt until his body disintegrated… by the Black Panthers (James Byrd)… I’d better not hear any comparison made between the Black Panther party and the Ku Klux Klan.”
We will never apologize for finally caring about ourselves when we were bred and manipulated into believing we should not.
So to all the racist white people out there who are enforcing this reverse racism narrative, have several seats. No one believes or cares about your hurt feelings. Until you have been denied a job due to the color of your skin, profiled and arrested based on the color of your skin, pushed out of potentially prosperous homes and cities because of gentrification, deprived of education because of segregation, denied school funding based on property tax, or most importantly, been denied your basic human rights and enslaved, please do not victimize yourself in comparison to the black American struggle.
Monica Houston, Opinion Editor