Babe, I know you have good intentions and I totally see where you are coming from.
Let me first start with, racism is different with racial discrimination and prejudice. The UN does not define racism because it is a very broad term and needs sociological arguments (sociologists/experts who study society) to be backed up.
According to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
the term “racial discrimination” shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction, or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin that has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.
Now, after finding out that racism is different from racial discrimination, then let’s find out the definition of racism. This opinion I am also laying out on the table come from white people, and sociologists who are white. My friends who are white explained this to me. I used to believe the same principle as you. However, the issue is with the word, racism, itself. Nowadays, it is thrown lightly… And the word holds such a broad meaning that it requires history, the laws of society, social norms, for the word to be backed up and applicable. While I am not disregarding your opinion, I would just like you to be open-minded, and see the sociological perspective of the word, racism.
Firstly, “intolerance or hatred for another race” is not the definition of racism. The dictionary’s view of racism is unfortunately wrong. And scholars have also argued with this and a white man himself published this article arguing with the idea that the definition of racism in the dictionary is “too white” and flawed.
So now, we just found that out. What is racism? Before, we can understand this, we have to understand what is the meaning of prejudice and discrimination. This powerpoint slide photoset (with 48k+ notes) explains the meaning of racism and why reverse racism does not exist (why it is impossible for white people to be subjected to the proper definition of racism)
So after reading that, what did we find out?
Prejudice is feeling of dislike for a racial/ethnic group and belief in this dislike. Discrimination is acting upon that prejudice or performing harmul actions towards those you have prejudice against.
And for the moment we are all waiting for, racism is institutionalization of this discrimination which is then perpetuated in society. The keyword is, institutionalized (or institutionalised if you follow UK spelling). This textpost explains what is racism and why reverse racism (racism against white people) cannot happen or exist.
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 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.
The reason why white people cannot be subjected to racism is because of the laws of the land, societal norms, and history that backs up this argument. Racism is not the act of one person discriminating, but a whole population operating in a social structure. People of color can not be racist because they don’t have that power in a society controlled by white men.
White people are the privileged race and I know you may say, “but I dont think I am”, “I consider all race equal”, “i dont believe one race is superior to the other”, etc. But if you look at the laws of the land, you should understand that white people benefit the most out of the system. An example is cultural appropriation.
Imagine this scenario to understand the meaning of that word:
A native american being mistreated, exploited, prejudiced, etc by white americans in the 1800s. They were mocked and discriminated against for their culture (specifically their religious practices and lifestyles, as well as their clothes)
Now imagine these same americans (white), 200 years later, taking your culture and making it into a “game” or “dressup”. It’s disrespect, because its once again your oppressor taking what is most important to you, your culture, and basically changing it into something thats “for fun” or dressup. Example, artists I love for their music but are problematic. Lana Del Rey in the Ride music video when she wears a Native american outfit. Katy Perry dressing up like a geisha (if you watch and/or read Memoirs of a Geisha, you should understand why their culture should be respected and considered sacred), dressing up like an egyptian, etc.
This phenomenon is happening right now because of media. So this is one big example why white are the privileged group. Another example is immigration laws for Mexicans in the USA, poverty being prevalent in third world countries… There are various examples worldwide which support the argument why people of colour are oppressed by society in general.
To quote the previous textpost link, i attached above
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 mean.To 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.
But yours is. And you need to accept that.
It is true that white people can be discriminated and experience prejudice for their race in countries where white is a minority. And discrimination and prejudice is morally wrong. However, it cannot be considered racism because if you consider the whole world and society as a whole, white people are the privileged race. I am not saying that white people being subjected to discrimination and prejudice is a lower degree compared to a person of colour being discriminated or prejudiced. Both are equally wrong. It is just the term, “racism”, is not applicable for white people. This is also the same for heterophobia. An already oppressed group cannot do the oppressing. An employee cannot fire their boss because they do not have the power.
Imagine there are two people. One white person and one person of colour. Considering all social factors, history, norms of society. A white person is given by the world, 10 apples. Whereas a person of colour is given by the world 3 apples. Or perhaps 3 is too less, lets make it 4. Actually lets make it 5. Or even 6 if you think we are progressing now with diminishing racism.
When you say that a white person can be oppressed by a person of colour, the person of colour is taking 1 apple away from the white person. So 10 apples - 1 = 9. That’s the number of apples the white person is left with. And the person of colour from 6 apples gains 1 more, thus ending up with 7. Even if that person of colour took 1 apple away, one still ended up with less than the privileged person.
You cannot say the person of colour is born with the same number of apples because that is not what the majority of society is showing at the past and present.
White slavery did happen and does happen (very minimal today however). But we have to look at the bigger picture. White people being “oppressed” is 1/4. Considering that argument, more PoCs are still oppressed by the current system worldwide making 3/4. These are the facts, look them up. Also, this is not the oppression olympics and I really do not understand why it is hard for white people to acknowledge their privilege and just be aware. Like it actually is more respectful if you just accept this fact. It is not being a white supremacist. Also do not say that it is up to the person to think that their race is superiour to another hence makes them racist. Racism relates to system of powers. And in the world we live today, the white race is the most powerful. You just have to accept this.
When you are saying that the white race (yes, race not individual people) can be oppressed, that is saying that your sociological privilege, which is ascribed to you biologically, is being taken away from you and you are making it about you. When you say that the racism definition in the dictionary is progressive, and you are mentioning we all have the same blood, you see no colour. You are erasing histories, cultures, experiences of people of colour to “stop” racism or make the problem disappear by making everybody equal. You are discrediting the reality that inequality exists.
Same goes with feminism, and LGBT rights. These groups strive for equality, and represent groups that are already oppressed. There is alot of things wrong in the worldwide system. It is good that there is progress going on but possibly after two generations is when we can fully realise this. Unfortunately, at the present, it is still not enough and many issues still have to be addressed and handled.
This parallel is why we cannot fully accept the idea that all races are equally privileged.
Now before throwing in insults saying, I am biased, etc. I love white people okay, and alot of my favourite celebs and male crushes are white. Does not mean I do not like people of colour. I mean, I am Filipino so i’m a PoC. But yeah, to understand the word, racism, it requires alot of education.
I studied Sociology, and I learned these. My teachers were white and they explained that although time is changing, and progress is happening, PoCs are still oppressed. Examples are police targeting, racial profiling, prison sentences. If a white person goes shooting everybody in a building, one will be labelled as “mentally ill” however if it was a black person, it is mostly the case that one will get racially profiled for it. Here are 17 deplorable examples of white privilege. See what white privilege gets you?
But then, it is hard to accept for some and alot of people, I understand. So if you don’t agree then I respect your opinion but I do think it is wrong if you think reverse racism exists. Honestly, like i said earlier, I thought racism can happen to white people, and i got corrected by a white person that it is the wrong term to classify it as. So if white people like them know/accept that this is the definition after reading into academic texts, and studying society, I dont see why it should be difficult to accept this fact. And if you wonder why I decided to write all this, well, besides me studying this.. I think it is very important that both white people and PoC understand racism, privilege, and discrimination in respectful ways that allow us to live harmoniously rather than at odds with each other. It does not change the fact that every race can be discriminated. There is just a proper way of classifying the prejudice/discrimination that had occurred. And don’t be mean, rude, and discriminating towards anyone in general.