Can white people experience racism?

OK, two things here. I am not a racist. And being fat doesn’t mean I’m going to die young.

Lets tackle the latter first. Please read this article. The defense rests.

Now to my first point. I am not a racist. In his book “How to be an anti-racist” Ibram X Kendi defines a racist as “someone who is supporting a racist policy through their actions or interaction or expressing a racist idea”. He also says “the opposite of racist isn’t not racist“.

Now I want to make it clear that I haven’t read the book yet, but it’s definitely on my list. I actually first learned of it from a website called racial equity tools, which has a really useful glossary for people who might struggle with some of the terminology about race.

A lot of people think a racist is someone who discriminates against another person because of the colour of their skin. But that is discrimination. You are racist if you support a racist policy through your actions or your interactions or express a racist idea.

Now I am not perfect. I make mistakes, and sometimes those mistakes end up hurting or harming people who are oppressed due to their race. And I don’t take that lightly. I always try to reflect on where I went wrong and how I can avoid making similar mistakes in the future. I don’t think perfectionism is healthy and I also believe it is one way in which white supremacy culture shows up. But at the same time, I can only learn from my mistakes if I am willing to listen and reflect on them, and sometimes that is a supremely uncomfortable place to be that I would like to do nothing more than to avoid!

But I do it. Because the opposite of racist isn’t “not racist”.

The opposite of racist is anti-racist

Racism is a system of advantage/disadvantage based on race. It shows up everywhere. In education, healthcare, politics, the criminal justice system. White people always have the advantage. Non white people always have the disadvantage. It really is that simple.

It’s not just prejudice based on skin colour. It’s prejudice based on skin colour in the context of social and institutional power. In the western world, there is no context in which racial minorities hold any social or institutional power. White people always have the racial advantage. Which is why white people can not experience racism.

Discrimination? Sure. If I took one look at a white person and said “they’re not going to be any good at playing basketball” then I am discriminating against them. And this might impact them personally. But in a system where white people have access to better schools, can afford better equipment, and have more access to recreational facilities, I am not being racist. I’m being a dick. But not a racist dick.

So when a white dude accuses me of being racist toward him, I simple laugh and move on. Because he clearly knows nothing about critical race theory and is not making any effort to challenge racism at all. In fact, he’s trying to co-opt the anti-racism movement for himself!

And since you’re either racist or anti-racist, what does that make him?

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