Letter: Term ‘reverse racism’ incorrect, hinders progress

Reverse racism: This term has slowly appeared in the vocabulary of far too many individuals over the past several years. While the intentions of using the phrase are likely not meant to cause offense, the subsequent usage indeed creates a significant sense of discomfort, at least to me and likely to many others, regardless of their race. There is nothing reverse about racism and discrimination directed towards white Americans. Saying otherwise carries a notion of elitism that has no place in the 21st century. The issue of racial equality is still very raw to most people and will continue to be until individuals decide that changes must be made. Institutionalized programs can only do so much; instead, we as Americans, need to look into the manner in which we treat the idea of race and realize that instead of fighting for racial dominance, we must embrace our similarities as citizens of this country and work together for wider-spread equality.

I am quite aware that my statements may sound like a cliché. Unfortunately, there are few other ways to get the message across. There is no such thing as reverse racism! Simply put, racism occurs regardless of who says what to whom. A bigoted comment is not any less or more offensive simply because of the race of the individual at whom it is being directed. Historically in America, racism was, for the most part, directed towards African Americans. On a global and etymological level, however, racism is simply the targeting of others based specifically on ethnicity and skin color — whether black, white, yellow, green or anything else.

There is still a great deal of anger and distrust from American minorities due to the precedent of bigoted actions that have targeted them for far too long. Many white Americans have voiced their opposition and concern with recent controversial statements made by high-profile racial minorities, such as United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Reverend Al Sharpton, that can be interpreted as putting down the white race. Hostility from whites has also occurred toward affirmative action, equal-opportunity employment programs, and historically black colleges and universities. Several years ago, a group of white firefighters from Connecticut sued their place of employment for feeling they were unfairly denied promotions because of their race. These situations can feel uncomfortable for anybody; however, we must consider the mitigating circumstances that led to all of the above situations. African Americans have time and again faced discrimination on par with or beyond every example above. Prior to the creation of historically black colleges, there were all-white and all-male colleges. Justice Sotomayor was raised in an area that saw little to no help from those in political power (who at the time were predominantly white), making her faith in white males minimal. Affirmative action is simply a bold attempt to level the playing field among races.

The point I’m trying to make is that no race is more or less significant than any other and almost everyone has experienced discrimination based entirely on external physical features. By referring to instances of discrimination towards whites as “reverse racism,” we are simply disregarding historical precedent and adding fuel to a fire that has been burning for far too long. Take domestic violence as an example. Traditionally, domestic violence has been associated with men assaulting women. In the past, a dispute between a male and a female would often result in the male being blamed. The mandatory arrest laws that many states adopted would almost always result in the male being arrested, regardless of who was actually at fault. While this is still sometimes the case, there are an increasing number of reported domestic violence incidents where a female assaults a male. No rational person would consider that to be reverse domestic violence. In fact, a number of people might even take offense to that terminology. Instead, we as Americans are binding together to reduce domestic violence and help the victims, no matter their gender.

This analogy needs to be adopted with race relations. Referring to racism as reverse simply because it is directed towards a group that has historically held more power in America is not only disrespectful but also counter-productive. It is time for us all to wake up: Any acts or words that a human being finds offensive need to be condemned regardless of a person’s skin color. The hurt felt from hearing such a comment is universal and should not be tolerated. Instead, we need to move forward and truly embrace the post-racial world that will hopefully exist in the near future.

– Sam Aronson is a sophomore criminal justice major minoring in African American Studies.

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