By: Zach Fulwood
All white people are racist. Black people can’t be racist. All Republicans are racist and if you voted for Trump or couldn’t wait to see Obama out of office, you’re racist too. Okay, did I get all of the sweeping generalizations about race out of the way? Awesome, now let’s have a real discussion about what racism really is.
According to merriam-webster.com, racism is defined as, “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.” It’s also defined as “a political or social system founded on racism.” Based off of this definition, we can surmise that racism is rooted in a superiority complex that leads a race of people to believe that their biological makeup entitles them to societal perks that other races don’t have. Notice how the definition of racism doesn’t include skin color and that’s because race and skin color are not synonymous with each other. But we’re also not going to act like the society we live in doesn’t use skin color as racial distinctions because, surprise, surprise, we do. So for the purpose of this discussion, we’ll pretend race and skin color are one in the same.
When we talk about all White people being racist, we have to understand what we are in fact saying. By saying this, you’re essentially saying that every White person on the face of this planet was either born with or has been taught a mentality that believes their skin color makes them better than any opposing skin color known to man. This includes your co-workers, past teachers and your neighbors who helped you shovel out your car last winter. Now I haven’t met every White person alive but the ones that I have met, don’t all fit that profile. As a Black man myself, I know all to well what being painted with such a broad brush can do for the perception of a race of people. Sure there are racist White people out there but not all of them are racist. Benefiting from a racially unfair system doesn’t automatically make you a racist individual. For Black people, let’s just say there’s no benefit in creating an enemy before you know you have one to begin with.
As far as Black people not being able to be racist is concerned, I don’t see it. If we are talking specifically from a political perspective in relation to this country, then I agree. From that standpoint, Black people can’t be racist because we don’t adhere to a political system that was made to be inclusive and beneficial to any minority outside of White Americans. Therefore, no Black person will ever be in a position to oppress any race of people based off of their race. I guess President Obama could have tried but with the overwhelming majority of congress consisting of White Americans, the attempt would have been futile.
However, from a social perspective, Black people can definitely be racist. In order to perform a racist act as a Black man, all I would have to do is deny another race entry into something I’ve created based off of our racial differences and the premise that my race makes me superior. Basically, all I would have to do is create a dance studio where only Black could participate in because intrinsically, I believe the Black race is the only race that can learn how to dance.
On a macro-level, racism is an ideology that is perpetuated and ultimately acted out from the majority onto the minority. But on a micro-level, that same minority can very well assume the same power previously held by the majority.
At this point, racism as a definition has become increasingly convoluted. Playing the race card has turned into a game of UNO. Everyone playing has their own rules for how to play and arguments arise as a result of no one person having a clear understanding of the rules. Even though the rules are stated in the rule book, no one takes the time to refer to it and instead, would rather play the game the way they grew up playing it.