“You can’t generalize white people like that, not all of us are racist!””You’re being racist towards white people!!”
“There is no color! No black and white! We are all human!”
Well let me tell you, if I had a nickel for every time I heard some version of those statements, I could probably compensate the women and people of color affected by the wage gap.
Well first of all, let’s clear something up: race does indeed exist. Claiming to be colorblind is, to put it bluntly, completely asinine. Yes, race is a social construct. That is to say, there is no component of our DNA that defines us as a race. Scientifically, it does not exist. Pragmatically, it does. Throughout history, black people have been targeted simply because their SKIN COLOR is associated with inferiority.
“But slavery is in the past, it’s over!” Well, my naive white friend, turn on the news for thirty seconds. Watch what is currently unfolding at the University of Missouri. Black people are being targeted for being black. Race is still relevant. The KKK is still very much alive. This is not only relevant to black people, but also NBPOC (nonblack people of color). A Muslim person can’t walk through the airport without experiencing a “random” screening. Being Muslim equates to being a terrorist. These harmful stereotypes plague our society. Race has historically been used to categorize, denigrate, and dehumanize. It simply can’t be ignored.
As a white person, I am here to tell my fellow white friends: reverse racism is a nonexistent cause. Let’s stop embarrassing ourselves now, shall we? Now you may be saying to yourselves, “Hey! That’s not fair!” Well, you know what’s not fair? The beauty standard–as a white person, we are born with inherent privilege. We are the automatically the epitome of the colonial, westernized beauty standard. We don’t ever hear the statement, “Gee, you’re good looking for a white person.” Conversely, when I go to the supermarket with my mother and the cute boy at the register bags up our groceries, she will lean over and whisper into my ear “He’s cute, for a black kid.” To which I must constantly remind her: no, he is cute, period.
When you open a magazine, as a white person, I am 300 percent sure that a person of my race will be represented. I can open a magazine and receive affirmation of the beauty of my skin color. When I go to the pharmacy, as a white person, I am able to easily locate a box of bandaids labeled as “flesh colored” and they will undoubtedly match my skin tone. Oh, and let’s not forget about Jourdan Dunn. The experienced black Victoria’s Secret Model, who has walked in the annual fashion show for several years, was replaced by Kendall Jenner this year. Because that’s exactly what we needed. More representation of the white beauty standard.
“Well what about when a black person or a NBPOC calls me ‘mayo?’ That surely can’t be fair!” Ah, you’re wrong again, white friends. The N word has a historical connotation of severe oppression during the time of slavery. It is, and always will be, connected to an institution of racism and brutalizations. It is, and always will be, connected to the white slave owner that overworked, abused, tortured, starved, killed, raped, maimed, and dehumanized the black person. Labeling a person from the Middle East a terrorist furthers the marginalization of NBPOC. You are ensuring their position of inferiority by promoting stereotypes of violence. While being called “mayo” may hurt your feelings, it invokes no history of violence, it does not remove your inherent white privilege, it does not take away your societally internalized position of power. So once again white people: we do not experience racism.
“Well what about when people generalize white people? We’re not all racist!” Sit down, clearly my work here is not done. When a person of color, black or not, uses the term “white people,” we genuinely do not have a right to take offense to the statement that follows. It is in reference to the system that automatically grants us with white privilege. And if you want to argue about white privilege, stop. Just stop. You are an inherent beneficiary of the systematic oppression of black people. When you walk into a store, you are under no suspicion of management. When your black friend walks in, they will be followed or watched, because they are assumed to be criminals. When your Middle Eastern friend walks in, they will be followed or watched, because they are assumed to be a terrorist. When you are accepted into college, there is no assumption that affirmative action played a role in your acceptance. You are assumed to be qualified. Your black friend “probably got a scholarship because of his skin color.” I encourage you to refer back to the flesh colored bandage example. It is small, but it is a privilege nonetheless. You benefit from institutionalized racism.
So let’s recap. Race? It exists. Reverse racism? Does not exist. Those with the privilege do not experience the components of racism. Historically, the white person has been the person with the power. Our society has built it’s foundation around this warped psychology. A black person simply doesn’t have the ability to remove this longstanding institutionalized oppression by simply calling a white man “mayo boy.” That’s similar to me approaching my professor, a woman with a doctorate and years of experience in her field, and telling her that she is stupid. This will never discredit her authority, for she will always hold that power over me due to her history of experience and education. Generalizing white people? It’s hard not to do that, since every single one us are daily beneficiaries of a systematic oppression against people of another race. Class dismissed.