White Privilege and the Concept of Reverse Racism

By Hiba Zaidi (Oman)
Published on November 14th, 2020

The reality is that being a Caucasian comes with an array of genetically predisposed privileges before birth. Racism is a structure built to systematically oppress minority groups. When European colonizers invaded the world, they made sure to leave behind a system that would socially benefit people with white skin. This system of privilege still exists today. This article explores the concept of ‘reverse racism’, whether its existence is a myth, and its symbiotic relationship with white privilege.

Humanity is odd. We preach about our Gods, our values, and our morals, we boast about our opulence and grieve about things we’ve lost, but what a caustic conundrum we seem to have found ourselves in. The recent wave of media attention on the Black Lives Matter movement has shaken the world by the metaphorical chains.

But there have been revolutions such as this since time immemorial. Think Martin Luther King Jr. or Malcolm X; And these figures are from the recent past. People of Color have been disenfranchised, underserved, and excluded with no warrant or cause for centuries.

The only difference now is that it’s being televised. There’s no covering it up. Social media has made the consistent antics of white supremacy our greatest, unscripted, reality TV show.

Racism is not a novel concept. It is the structural oppression faced by non-white folk by way of government legislature and so-called cultural “norms”.

The notion of racism is based on centuries of systemic oppression and stripping away of power and identities from people of color.

Whether or not you want to accept it, the fact is that white colonizers from Europe created a society based on privilege that solely benefits them.

White privilege does not necessarily equate to an easier life. However, it does mean that you haven’t faced additional hardships because of your skin. We must acknowledge that centuries of systemic racism and generational racial biases have led to the white race being seen as superior, and this comes with privileges. As children, even if we don’t admit it now, somewhere in our subconscious there lingered the fantasy of having pale, rosy skin.

It perpetually amazes me that non-POCs are so easily able to detach themselves from an experience that’s constantly helping them navigate through society as if it’s mythology. This unseen privilege that permeates in white life has blinded people so far in the matrix, that some believe we’ve been living in Zion since the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

White people have no history of oppression; they have never been persecuted based on the color of their skin, so to compare their experiences with those of people of color is positively criminal.

This is my argument against ‘reverse racism’, the very concept is propounded by unintelligent white folk that cannot seem to grasp the privilege they live, breathe, eat, sleep in.

POCs can be prejudiced, sure. Anyone is capable of hatred that is born out of preconceived notions and generalizations. But they cannot be racist towards whites in a societal system designed to benefit only white people.

Let me introduce a real, contemporary example, and you can judge for yourselves:

Felicity Huffman is a wealthy actress who paid $15,000 to cheat and bribe her daughter’s way into a better college. She was sentenced to 14 days in jail. Meanwhile, non-white folks have spent years in prison for charges like harmless possession of marijuana. One cannot argue the fact that African Americans are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system.

Do people really not see the cruel dichotomy in the way in which white criminals are treated compared to black criminals?

White Privilege need not be on such a macroscopic scale. Privilege can be as simple as a 6-year-old ballerina having ballet shoes in the color of their skin, or being able to have more than a handful of strong role models on the TV screen. It can be the lack of pressure due to the knowledge that your every flaw is judged as a confirmation of the inferiority of your race.

Privilege is a difficult thing to acknowledge when you haven't had to your entire life. It's hard to imagine something that you haven't had to think about when you're comfortable - especially when it has benefited you the most. It's uncomfortable to grow, but that's why you need to do it most.

Especially when the concept of privilege becomes a topic of accusation, it turns a lot of people off from having that conversation.

Privilege should not be weaponized against white people (or anyone who has historically gained privilege depending on the country), rather the goal of having these conversations is to raise awareness. Baby steps are what is needed.

Once you have acknowledged your privilege, becoming more aware and seeing the world for the truly divisive nature that it is, change happens. Ignorance is no longer bliss. You become a part of a society where you are finally hearing and seeing the experiences of people.

People who have been non-racist their whole lives will use their privilege to speak on behalf of others who have been ignored.

So the only way to learn where that line is and how to be an ally is through self-education. It takes effort in being uncomfortable in growth, but it's needed. Please don't stop seeking out resources and sharing resources online. The quieter we let this become the less change will actually happen. And we have been silenced for ­far too long.

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