Beautiful readers of mine,
Ursulla’s dad asked me, recently, what I thought about “racism against white people”, which is also known as “reverse racism”, which is also known as “that thing that doesn’t really exist”. I have been thinking about it a lot lately, because obviously, it does exist. Of course, black people, just like ‘brown’ people, just like any other group from a different race or ethnicity, can be prejudiced. Some members of my family, per example, are massive Islamophobes. And if you look at it from a black and white (haha) point of view, and consider racism as “being prejudiced against x or y” and “making fun of this or that race”, then yes, black people are racists against white people. Because we say things like: “White people be like”, “I don’t understand white people”, “These whites amaze me”, etc. There are videos of white people dancing, and black people laughing at it. And there are the more extreme cases of blacks being offensive, disrespectful, maybe even violent, towards whites. I’m sure that there are black parents who tell their kids that they can’t date a white person (although I have yet to meet them). I’m acknowledging all this. And I’m acknowledging all this to say: “Yeah, so?”.
Let’s say that I’m a racist. Let’s say that all those interactions with racists have changed me, and have made me hate all white people equally because of the actions of the few. Let’s. Let’s say that I wake up every day, preaching hate about the whites. Let’s say that every day, I say at least 10 extremely racist things. Let’s say that I don’t want my kids to be friends with whites, that I forbid any white person from entering my house, that I discriminate as much as I can, that I believe that black people are superior to white people, that I wish I could avoid the whites. Let’s say that I’m really, extremely, racist. What can I actually do about it?
In the world we live in, the world where, even in Black Africa, the local white people are sometimes (often) more respected than the local black people; a world where African video clips (where you’d really hope to have some representation for black women, as the Western world still fails to do so) feature white girls because it’s seen as “more attractive”; a world where being a black woman is the least desirable thing you could possibly be (because you get the sexism and the racism, which is really great); a world where ‘skin bleaching’ is a thing that too many black women feel like they need to do: in that world, if you’re black and hate white people, you’re pretty much screwed. You’re pretty much screwed because you can’t possibly hope to get by without them. You won’t be able to oppress them, in a world where, even if you’re convinced otherwise, they’re in a better position. So, maybe you’ll say something that will be hurtful, and they’ll feel bad, and then they’ll go right back to being in that world where they’re the “norm”, where they’re “pre-approved”, where they don’t have to worry about not being hired because of the color of their skin, where they don’t have to worry about meeting their friend’s parents – or even worse, their grandparents – in case they’re racists, where the movies/songs/books are about them (and if they’re not, it’s almost written on the front page: “FEATURING BLACK PEOPLE BECAUSE WE ARE SO INCLUSIVE”). They might be sad, they might be mad, they might have a crappy day because of you, but their life will be globally unchanged. That is all that you, black person, will achieve if you try to oppress a white person – without using violence. We are not in a position to be oppressors. We do not have the ‘power’ to be oppressors. So we simply cannot oppress. And if you take that key element – the (fear of) oppression – away from racism, then what is there left? Not much more than hateful and hurtful words. And that’s the kind of racism that white people face.
Is verbal racism ok? Nope. Is verbal racism not racism? Of course it is. But black people face that kind of racism so often, that we barely consider it racism anymore. When we’re complaining about racism, we’re complaining about much more than hurtful words, because if we had to be hurt every time a white person says something offensive, we would be crying every single day. Because white people have that gift, that consists in saying incredibly offensive things with a smile, and telling you that you can’t be offended because “it’s just a joke”, and “everything is considered fucking racist lately because those blacks and those liberals can’t take a fucking joke”. So we have learned to sigh and take it and ignore it, because it’d take too long to explain why the things they’re saying are racist.
So, maybe we don’t think “racism against white people” is a thing, because it’s 95% verbal racism. And, as I have said before, I am more scared about being discriminated against because I’m black. I am more tired of having to work three times as hard to be taken seriously, because I happen to be a black woman. I am more tired of those unmasked surprised looks when I meet someone, and they realize that I have brain. I am tired of having to fight to get an apartment because my name is obviously African. I am tired of hearing the stories of people who can’t get a job because they’re black. I’m tired of being aware that a white person is more likely to be chosen for a job than an equally-qualified black person. I’m tired of having gone through so many forms of institutionalized racism, that I’m afraid that being black will hold me up in literally every single aspect of my life. I am more tired of all those blacks being beaten up or killed in America for breathing too loudly or smiling too brightly, I am tired of knowing that more blacks than whites are arrested when they commit the same crime, I am tired of millions of other things. It’s heartbreaking, it’s devastating, it’s a fact of life, and it’s something we have to fight against every day and that takes way too much energy. And that’s the kind of racism that black people face. The kind that breaks your heart and impacts every aspect of your life.
So, my point, finally:
Attack me verbally on the internet. Make memes about me. Make fun of the way I dance and post it online. Yell insults at me on the street even, if you want. I’ll take that gladly, if that also means that I can live carefree and never have to worry about the color of my skin ever again. Throw the verbal racism at me by the few, as long as I’m pre-approved and accepted by the majority. I’ll take the abuse, I’ll take the insults, I’ll take the “reverse racism”, if you give me the white privilege too.
In conclusion (because I could seriously talk about this all night, but I have to end it some day): when I was a child, I broke my foot, and it was in a cast for 3 weeks. It was during the holidays, and I was going to go see Ursulla – which really didn’t happen often -, and we always went swimming, and it really annoyed me that I couldn’t. When my leg itched, I had to use weird tricks to scratch it. Showering was an everyday struggle that was incredibly dreadful. Walking was a real pain in the ass. I went out of my way to avoid stairs. I was around 8, and I hated life, but it never even crossed my mind to compare my situation to a paraplegic’s. And I guess I feel like if 8 year-old-me could understand that being somewhat ‘disabled’ for three weeks was not comparable to being disabled forever, people should be able to understand that the few jokes/offensive comments/insults – even if, ideally, they should be avoided – are nothing compared to being institutionally discriminated upon regularly.
Make A Wish