Hey bruh, I want you to know that this may be our last explainer. You’ve helped me understand a lot, but I don’t think I can do this anymore.
Well, to be honest, I looked you up online and discovered that many people think you’re a huge racist.
And by “many people” I assume you mean ...
Yes, white people. I know you don’t believe that black people can be racist, but I don’t know if I should associate with you any longer. It may ruin my reputation.
That’s OK. You should know that I absolutely believe that black people can be racist. I don’t, however, use the terminology “reverse racism” or believe that using words that offend white people is an act of racism.
Most of the time, when white people lob accusations of racism, they’re deflecting from the original conversation.
I don’t understand.
Take, for example, the term “wypipo.” I often use the word to describe the subset of Caucasians who ... well ... the ones who would get mad about the term “wypipo.”
Whenever I refer to them that way, they never address the accompanying argument about the history of whites in America, voting for a man who uses Tang as a concealer, or even the fact that all wypipo chicken recipes call for “a pinch of salt.”
Instead of dismantling the original argument, they unilaterally declare the use of the word an act of reverse racism, never confronting the underlying truth.
But is it an act of reverse racism?
Again, there’s no such thing. The phrase “reverse racism” suggests it is a slur equivalent to offensive acts perpetrated by whites.
Also, they don’t acknowledge that it is a joke.
So why do white people believe in reverse racism?
Because unlike most minorities, they are not accustomed to being lumped in with a group of people they did not choose. The privilege of individuality means that they aren’t even subject to facts.
For instance, 2.2 million black people were arrested in 2016, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. Even if a different person committed each crime (which is impossible), based on U.S. population estimates, that would mean that 95 percent of black people didn’t commit a crime that year.
Even though the data proves that a black criminal is statistically rare, they will clutch their purses on elevators and counter any discussion about discrimination by asking about black-on-black crime.
But if I said, “White people voted for Trump,” they would accuse me of reverse racism despite the fact that 58 percent of white voters cast a ballot for him.
When I say white people support the police, it’s based on the research showing that 75 percent of white people believe that the police treat every ethnicity the same and use the right amount of force. Despite the evidence, most white people (also 75 percent) don’t believe that blacks are treated less fairly when applying for a bank loan or mortgage. A majority of whites (68 percent) don’t believe that their race gives them an advantage. Most white Americans feel that our country talks about race too much.
If the weatherman, based on his research, predicted a 75 percent chance of rain tomorrow, they wouldn’t think it was a problem if someone said, “It will rain tomorrow.” But if I said white people don’t want to talk about race and don’t believe in structural inequality, I’d be called a reverse racist.
They despise the phrase “white people” and any sweeping generalizations relating to them. The privilege of individuality affords them the right to be immune to facts. But even insinuating that white America ignores their privilege is deemed offensive—even though the facts show it to be true.
But what if they’re actually offended by something you said? If someone called you the n-word, wouldn’t you think it offensive?
Yes. But it is only offensive because it is inextricably tethered to the list of egregious acts that the weaker-skinned population actually commit against black people. You can’t separate the word “nigger” from 500 years of slavery, 100 years of Jim Crow, thousands of lynchings and the violation of constitutional rights. All of that is embedded in the word. That’s why it conjures up so much animosity.
That is also why there is no equivalent to the n-word. Even the word “cracker” denotes power and—while it might remind them of the embarrassingly shameful history of white supremacy—it doesn’t carry the same dehumanizing connotation. That’s why there is no word that is “like the n-word.”
But if they think something you say is racist, how can you tell them how to feel?
I can’t. I don’t dismiss the notion that black people can do things that make white people feel bad. However, I do dismiss the notion that making white people feel bad is racist or an act of reverse racism.
There are black children who don’t believe their school is inferior, even though schools with a majority of black children are statistically underfunded. The education system is racist, whether the students in question feel it or not.
There are black people who accept the punishment for their crimes. When they are given prison sentences that are 20 percent longer than white criminals who commit the same crimes, they might not feel that their sentence is racist, but it is.
Black children don’t know that regardless of their upbringing, educational attainment or neighborhood, they will earn less than white kids who grew up in poorer families and worse neighborhoods with less education. Even if the black kids never know they are being paid less than their white counterparts, they are victims of racism.
White people may feel aggrieved at the words they read on the internet, but they are not experiencing racism. Racism has nothing to do with feelings. It is a measurable reality that white people are not subject to, regardless of their income or status.
Aha! I caught you in a lie! I thought you said that you absolutely believed that black people could be racist.
If white people built a time machine, went back to 1619 and subjected themselves to slavery, built America into a superpower without compensation or reparation, attended inferior schools, faced double the unemployment of blacks and were killed, lynched and incarcerated disproportionately by black people, I would agree that black people were racist, even if I didn’t do anything to them personally.
But that’s a fictional situation that’s never going to happen. It’s so preposterous there isn’t even a term for it.
Actually, there is: