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Can white people be victims of racism? Show more Show less

In 2011 Harvard and Tufts universities published a landmark study into American attitudes to racism. Many found their findings surprising. White respondents believed their communities were subject to more racism than their black counterparts. Their belief was that post-civil rights efforts to correct anti-black prejudice had come at the expense of white people. But this idea of"reverse racism" frequently comes under fire . As study co-author Samuel Sommers writes, ""It's a pretty surprising finding when you think of the wide range of disparities that still exist in society, most of which show black Americans with worse outcomes than whites in areas such as income, home ownership, health, and employment." In the decade since the paper was published, this debate has become more central to the political agenda. Investigating prejudice, identity and ethnicity, has become critical to understanding how racism is performed and reproduced. So, can white people be victims of racism?

"No! White people cannot be victims of racism!" Show more Show less

This perspective believes that racism does not exist in a vacuum. Racism is predicated on systemic oppression; something is racist because it deepens existing racial inequalities. Whites are the primary beneficiaries of society's norms and institutions. Therefore, they cannot be victims of racism.
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Racism is based on systemic power relationships

Racism is one directional. White people cannot be victims of racism because they occupy a superior position within society. The basest description of racism might be a belief that certain races are inferior to others. However, this is problematic because it does not account for the power structures that perpetuate racial inequality. Racism is predicated on some racial groups being more powerful than others. Uneven power dynamics allow it to function and flourish. The measure of racism is therefore in its wider implications: how it feeds into structural inequalities that sustain dangerous attitudes about certain groups. A black person making a negative comment about white people might be offensive, but it is not essentially racist, because their words do not have structural implications. The same is not true were these roles reversed. Proponents include anti-racism scholar Guilaine Kinouani, Metro journalist Natalie Morris and the cast of Dear White People.
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    This page was last edited on Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 13:47 UTC