Reverse Racism? What is that?

I saw this phrase used again. On a friend’s Facebook feed.
“Reverse Racism.”

What does that even mean?
“Reverse Racism.”
“Reverse. Racism.”

The poster’s idea being that when a Black/African American person distrusts white people it’s “reverse racism.” Or when a Native American doesn’t trust the government it’s because of “reverse racism.” Or any of a litany of similar examples. Some examples include actual prejudice or hatred on the part of the person said to be exhibiting “reverse racism.”

But, let’s dig into this phrase, “reverse racism.”

  • Reverse: Verb. To move backward.
  • Reverse: Adjective. Going in or turned toward the direction opposite to that previously stated.
  • Reverse: Noun. A complete change of direction or action.
  • Reverse: Noun. The opposite or contrary to that previously stated.

“Reverse Racism.”

“Going in the direction opposite to racism?”
“A complete change of direction or action to racism?”

So, what's wrong with reversing racism? Let's implement a reversal of racism NOW!

Obviously that’s not the intent of people who use this term “reverse racism.”

They mean, “I’m being subjected to undesired or prejudicial behavior by this individual and I think it’s because my skin is white and theirs is not. I’m going to call it Reverse Racism.”

 Yeah, buddy, that’s not actually racism.

A lot of people can explain the reality of racism much better than I, most obviously because I’ve never been personally subjected to racism’s deleterious effects. Here are some: Systemic RacismInstitutional RacismStructural Racism

My own experiences

 I grew up and went to school as one of only a few white people on Dinétah. I was regularly exposed to bullying, prejudice, and distrust by other children and by some (very, very few) adults. But I was never subjected to “reverse racism.”

Not Once. 

Never was I subjected to systemic, institutionalized, racially-based oppression. Because even on a tribal nation, that kind of oppressive power doesn’t exist in the way it exists in US society at large. Within this power structure, there’s no historical oppression of white people. Within this power structure, there’s no generational memory of white people being systematically murdered because of their skin color. Such power structure and thus racism has been, for 500+ years, reserved for the benefit of the European-American.

So, yes, I’ve experienced racially-based prejudice. I’ve experienced racially-based distrust. I’ve experienced racially-based hate. Heck, I even experienced racially-based lack of funding in my elementary school, which IS racism. However, that racism wasn’t aimed at my particular skin-color; I just happened to be the unlucky white person who attended a school subjected to institutional racism. 

What I have never experienced is institutional, systemic, racially-based oppression (racism) aimed at me because of my skin color.

There is no systemic power structure in place that oppresses white people in the US.

Here are some discussions relevant to this topic:…/dear-white-people-please-stop……/myth-of-reverse…/535689/

The attached image is from:

“Racial Classification and History,” ed. E. Nathaniel Gates, 1997.


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