dagArchives: (March 9, 2012) On the plea for the existence of reverse racism
reposting this with two small additions that clarify context and strengthen the conclusion.
I have no idea how to make my friends see that there is no reverse racism because they keep telling me that the definition of racism is being discriminated based on the colour of your skin, so my argument is invalid because people from other ethnicities sometimes discriminate white people. fucks sake, what do I do? they keep saying that the black panthers are racist etc etc. one of them is actually half black.
Social movements, past or present, that are self-defined, self-determined, well-organized, popular, and opposed to the white power structure, not white people, are always called racist. I’ll get to why below. The Black Panther Party (in actuality) was a social organization working to educate, protect, feed, and house black people. It had nothing to do with white people. For your friends to claim that The Black Panther Party is a racist organization is typical. If anything, the Black Panther Party attempted to step outside of the socially constructed binary for racial discourse in America. They were organized to work without whites, not in opposition to whites. This is significant because white culture has always represented its self-determination as just and manifest destiny. To claim Black Panthers are racists is to willfully ignore and to silently admit centuries of racist white power.
Racism is not discrimination based on the color of your skin. It’s discrimination based on the color of their skin. (It’s more complicated than that, but I’m sticking to our specific example of reverse racism and focusing on the pronouns in the context of American discourse.) Ethnicities without dominant power structures in Europe and America may hate the dominant white power structure and hold white people in contempt and responsible for inequality and bigotry, but that does not make them racist. Racism is not recognizing inequality and oppression. While the white (and liberal) response to racism is reactionary, self-determination and disciplined social organization is a reasonable and rational response to oppression.
Racism and white supremacy both involve a directed discourse. As I mentioned at the beginning of last paragraph, it’s a directed discourse from us to them. In other words, racism has a trajectory, and white supremacist rhetoric cultivates its force. Reverse racism is problematic because it ignores the us versus them dynamic that racial discrimination constructs for racist discourse. Moreover, it ignores that dynamic while invoking it. Reverse racism doesn’t really exist. Racism exists.
The plea for the existence of reverse racism is an attempt to legitimize white reactionary racial discourse. It deconstructs the us-them binary and interpellates a white subject who claims, I am the one experiencing an unjust response to a situation I am not responsible for creating. Reverse racism is actually an appeal to the innocence of white subjects who have chosen to bargain with white supremacy. The plea for the existence of reverse racism evokes racism and racist discourse for a very good reason. Reverse racism cannot exist without white supremacy. The white power structure is its sine qua non. In addition, it only works in one direction, to me. It only works for white subjects.
Reverse racism is itself a racist construction. It’s always a white response to critical discourse about white supremacy. Remember: white ideology interpellates all individuals as white subjects. In other words, you’ll find people of color who claim reverse racism is a reality. That doesn’t matter. The plea for the existence of reverse racism naturalizes the white gaze. In other words, the white gaze is constructed to be natural and naturally dominant, inevitable, useful and positive while the gaze of all others directed at white subjects is naturally submissive, constructed, useless, and harmful.
This is how I’d begin to answer your friends’ concerns because it illustrates the reasoning behind the argument that The Black Panters are a dangerous, racist organization and why the reasoning is incorrect and false. To be sure, Black Panthers were a righteous group of radicals who were doing what white America has always claimed we have the right, freedom, and obligation to do. They were doing what they had to within the law to strengthen themselves and their community. To claim otherwise is to purchase a racist lie about black power and to be anti-black, as far as I am concerned.