Fairy tales for privileged kids: “the anti-white racist”

A disclaimer before we begin: what I’m about to talk about here are facts. This means they are not up for debate. There are not multiple sides to this story. You are not owed a “reasonable discussion” about this, nor will I “agree to disagree” with you. I’m talking about things that are abjectly, incontrovertibly true. Okay? Okay.

Let’s start things off with a little mathematical proof:

 

(A) RACISM = [racial prejudice] * [institutional power]

(B) SUM OF [institutional power] held by black people = 0

sub (B) into (A)

RACISM against white people = [racial prejudice] * 0

therefore RACISM against white people = 0

 

As you can see, because multiplying by zero will always give you an answer of zero, racism against white people equals zero for any and all values of “racial prejudice”.

See, racism isn’t just about prejudice. Is it possible for non-white people to be prejudiced against white people? Sure. I mean, I don’t know about you, but if I lived in a community where land and house prices were soaring because of gentrification, leading to me having to give up my home, I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the people driving me out onto the street. If I were to be looked over for a promotion because my boss didn’t want a non-white person being a public face of the company, I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the people who made the decision that a non-white spokesperson would seem too threatening to be effective. If my son were, say, shot dead in cold blood by a white man who was then found not guilty of murder because my son was walking home on his own wearing a hoodie, then…yeah, I guess I’d probably be a little prejudiced against the assholes who ensured my son’s killer was never brought to justice.

So yeah, non-white people can be prejudiced against whites.

Can they be racist against whites? Nope.

Racism, like any other -ism, requires not just prejudice, but power. And the fact (see that word, fact? that means this is a thing that’s true and not up for debate) is that in the world in which we currently live, every single institution worth a damn is controlled by white people. Banks? White-controlled. Entertainment and news media? White-controlled. Educational institutions? White-controlled. Legislature? Despite America’s Black President, still majority white-controlled. The judiciary in most countries? White-controlled. Wide scale economics and trade? You guessed it: white-controlled.

So how can non-white people be racist against the people who hold all the cards and the balance of power? They can’t.

Racism isn’t just about slurs and curse words, though when uttered by people who have institutional backing, those things certainly have a great deal of power. Racism is about the systemic and institutional violence that contributes to the continued oppression and dehumanisation of non-white people around the world, even in majority non-white countries (their financial systems are still contingent on white-controlled international trade and their cultures are still heavily influenced by their white colonisers). Racism isn’t an angry, disenfranchised black person calling a white man “cracker” or “whitey”; racism is that white man’s ability to move on from that insult completely unscathed in every single way that matters because the black person who yelled that insult doesn’t have the power to back it up in any meaningful way.

White people control our legal system, our educational and financial institutions and our media. White people decide what is beautiful, what is respectable, what is acceptable. White people set the benchmarks for culture, for progress, for enlightenment. White people control who succeeds in business, who gets into the best schools and who will get off on their minor criminal charges instead of serving out an unnecessarily harsh jail sentence. White people export media that is absorbed into non-white culture until it changes the standards of beauty, respectability and acceptability even within those societies. White people decide what is good and what is bad and which way society’s moral compass points. White people, numeric minority they may be, control the world.

Tell me, what is a black person shouting “cracker” against all of that?

The simple fact (again, FACT) is that it is impossible to be racist against people who hold the balance of power. The n-word has power and weight as a slur because it is a reminder that white-dominated society sees black people as second-class citizens. Words like “exotic” as applied to women with non-white skin have weight and power because they are reminders that non-white women are being held against the white beauty standard and being found different (and therefore wanting). By contrast, the word “cracker” does not contribute to a culture in which, for example, white people are forced to earn less, are underemployed, over-incarcerated, devalued, dehumanised, shunned and oppressed. “Cracker” is just a word. It has no power behind it. It is not indicative of a culture of control and oppression. It is, to quote the Bard, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Here are some facts:

  • Even white women earn more than non-white men, despite a pay gap that generally favours men over women
  • Non-white men are incarcerated at a rate exponentially greater than white men
  • Non-white people are under-represented in federal legislature, in positions of power in the business world, and on the governing bodies of educational institutions
  • Despite the ethnic and racial makeup of many “white” countries, it is white beauty standards that remain the benchmark in magazines, on billboards, in movies and on our TV screens
  • Non-white women are raped more often than white women, report the crime less often, receive less police support when they do and see their rapists brought to justice less often than white women
  • The legal and judicial systems are profoundly skewed against non-white people to the point that both “stop and frisk” and “stand your ground” laws have been empirically shown to favour whites (see: Trayvon Martin, whose murderer is still a free man who attends conferences and signs autographs, vs Marissa Alexander, who fired a warning shot to scare off an intruder in her home and was originally sentenced to twenty years in prison)

Again, these are not opinions. This is not up for debate. It is demonstrable, incontrovertible, empirical fact that the balance of power is held by white people, and that in every way that counts, non-white people are at a significant systemic and institutional disadvantage.

So tell me again – what is “cracker” against all of that?

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13 thoughts on “Fairy tales for privileged kids: “the anti-white racist”

  1. Always hated maths, but that equation is wonderful. Not even going to comment on how right you are because you don’t need anyone to tell you that you’re right, the statements you make are unadulterated fact.

  2. “Racism, like any other -ism, requires not just prejudice, but power.”
    What a great explanation! Growing up white & privileged (& let’s face it, racist), I always conflated racism with predjudice. Thanks for clarifying. A whole lot of stuff just fell into place for me!

  3. I’m white, and I agree. It first came to make sense for me after reading Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”. Sure, white people have struggles as well. My family (minus my sister and myself) are pretty racist because they were poor farmers and think that puts them on the same socio-economic level as non-whites. But there really is no comparison. Non-whites have historically been beaten down and deprived of opportunity by whites for, like, forever. That’s the difference.

  4. Just brilliant. Change some of the words around and it goes for pretty much any oppression on the planet (sexism, homophbia, transphobia, antisemitism etc).

  5. Pingback: Navigating male entitlement, or: how I learned to stop caring and block dudebros | Days Like Crazy Paving

  6. I really appreciated the perspective, add some references to your facts to make them even stronger though. Then there will be no dispute what so ever.

  7. Your arguments are spot on, but your definitions pose problems. It’s not immediately obvious that racism as a function of prejudice/discrimination and power is a valid or widely accepted idea. Sure, there is something that is the product of prejudice/discrimination and power. And yes, it’s impossible for it to be applied to whites for the reasons you expose here. However, I am not familiar with a word for it, but that word is not “racism.” You are raising a wonderful point, and I can see how scandalizing it with the use of “racism” is beneficial to popularizing this idea. But it’s not accurate. The widely accepted definition for racism centers on prejudice and discrimination alone. Power does not figure into it. This is why racism can be applied in many circumstances, ways, shapes and forms towards all people. I am convinced the confluence of racism and power is a dangerous thing. I am also convinced it cannot be applied against white people in the West as the world is currently set up. However, I am not convinced that a better word cannot be used for it. I suspect that “hegemony” is a good candidate for this, given its definition. One way to see its power is that “non-white hegemony” does not seem to convey experiential meaning. Perhaps something else will be better.

    • See, that’s just incorrect. Amongst academics, activists and people who study race dynamics, “racism” specifically means prejudice + power. Prejudice on its own is generally referred to as “racial prejudice”, not racism. So your contention that my definition isn’t widely accepted is incorrect, because my definition is accepted formally as the more accurate one.

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