Torture, slavery, war, and death are all a result of white peoples’ rise to prominence in our past. White people have committed an egregious number of awful acts against their common man all across history.
A mere 60 years ago American society still participated in segregation between whites and blacks. White people in South Africa ended their form of segregation, Apartheid, only recently in 1991. There is no apologizing for the awful acts of the past, there can only be change within the groups responsible.
Today we see a lot of change in the mannerisms and actions in the collective.
We have changed our culture to be one of acceptance, rather than one of segregation and casting out. Our society believes a lot more in the of empowerment of individual groups for what makes them unique. To be different is to be appreciated, which is in direct contrast to that of the past.
However, there are also those in today’s world that refuse to not look at the past transgressions of white people. This means that white people in today’s society often times are treated differently in social situations because they are indeed white.
The most common term for this is “Reverse-Racism”. There are those that claim that it simply doesn’t exist. This is so because White people are the dominant social-identity group in the United States and most other western nations. The dominant group has committed so many transgressions against subordinate and minority groups that to claim that other groups could possibly commit transgressions against them is inherently absurd.
Even if that was the case, they probably need to learn what it means to be oppressed anyways. There is severe danger in this line of thought, as not only is it not productive towards to the furthering of mankind as a whole, but it actually works to bring down the groups who claim this. Reverse-Racism is an issue that not only affects white people, but affects minority’s as well through dehumanizing race groups, racial de-cooperation, and creating man-made victimization.
For the past 4 or 5 years, I have noticed a definitive shift in society towards being far more open and caring towards the individuals that comprise it. Yet, the open arms have been stiffer towards those who have a lighter pigment of skin. “You’re white and Cis, you don’t really get to talk” is a statement that may be all to familiar to white readers.
How can we call ourselves an open and caring society if we are teaching ourselves that one group, because of their past transgressions, current population, and statistics, doesn’t get an opinion?
These beliefs are indicative of a larger issue in our society; we are dehumanizing ourselves. Instead of embracing what makes us common, our humanity, we rather would today be separated. Each race or identity group is pushed to believe they mean less than other groups from birth. This is part of Bobbie Harro’s theory of the “Cycle of Socialization”. Harro states “We get systematic training in ‘how to be’ each of our social identities throughout our lives.” Harro implies that from the moment we are born we are being imprinted on.
This comes through our parents, the media, teachers, etc. It is now commonly taught, at high schools and colleges especially that white people are the primary transgressors, oppressors, and problem causers in our society today. This passing of the buck ignores issues currently residing within our society that aren’t based off race, such as the poverty issue.
Human issues like poverty are felt all across the ethnic spectrum, but poverty in primarily black areas, for example, are treated as “systematic oppression”. Yet, white poverty is treated as nothing unique, and to go even further it isn’t mentioned at all when white people reside in these poor, primarily black areas. The fact that the argument is “which race has it worse” or “which race is MORE oppressed” is a huge part as to why we still have these issues in first place.
Instead of asking what we can do to elevate the human population out of poverty, we talk ourselves into circles about how one group is worse off than the other group, or how this group is somehow responsible for the problems they face.
Instead of acting like we are human beings that are facing issues in the first place, we more closely identify with what matters the least about us. “You aren’t human, you’re white! That means you can’t dance, you can’t run fast, and you don’t deserve a place in our conversation because of the past of your ancestors.” Labeling humans like this only serves to strip them of their ambitions, take away motivation, and dehumanize them.
Treating people differently creates a social in-groups and out-groups. Some would extend this to say that in our current society that the in-group is white people and the out-group are minorities. To go even further, people like Beverly D. Tatum, author of “Who Am I?”, state that there is a form of social hierarchy in our world today through dominant and subordinate groups. Tatum states “Dominant groups, by definition, set the parameters within which the subordinates operate.
The dominant group holds the power and authority in society relative to the subordinates and determines how that power and authority may be acceptably used.” (7). This quote elaborates on the theory that certain groups experience more privilege than the other solely by how dominant they are in society. This dominance can come through strength of a certain group or their numbers. The dominance of this group forces the subordinate to either assimilate or be forced out.
I believe there is some historical truth to this theory, the Caste system being a prominent example. A plethora of nations and communities across the world and across time itself further prove there is backing to give this theory ground to stand on.
However, Tatum directs this theory at the current state of the United States of America. That’s where I believe the theory falls off, it fails to take into account the social change that has been going on in the US for the past decades. It treats the subconscious behaviors of an unconfirmed majority of white Americans as the current state as America.
This encourages readers of the theory to take it as it is directly, and thus leads to a direct distrust of the white populous, without any attempt to get to know who they truly are individually, behind their skin color. It almost creates an artificial segregation and separation of racial groups solely determined by their lack of motivation to get to know one another.
This theory also fails to take into account something we all share, our common humanity. It places whoever may qualify to be in the dominant or subordinate into their respective category with no discrimination or further thought.
The way I prefer to look at the situation is more based on the personality of whomever I am dealing with. I prefer not make assumptions, proliferate stereotypes, or act based on my own personal bias. Even if I disagree with someone, I don’t let that be an inherent deal breaker with my future towards them.
I feel as though society would function with far more ease if we let go of what we feel towards other people without actually taking the time to find out more about them. First impressions and skin color are overrated, what truly and ultimately matters is the character of the individual you choose to interact with.
The general trend in our society today is be recognized by what makes us victims, and whoever has the most issues has the most right to talk. I say this with a grain of salt, as I understand that part of this essay details how white people may be victims in some cases.
The point remains, however, that we instead of finding ways to actively solve our problems we remain stuck around the fact that we do have these issues in the first place. The streets are plagued with crime and over-zealous police. Being able to immigrate into the United States is difficult and expensive. Those gosh-darned immigrants are stealin’ my jobs. Each social group has an issue they lament about through every possible forum, yet we as collective do little to stop these issues from existing in the first place. Instead, we point fingers and yell at one another.
The collisions between the Alt-Right and Antifa are the drastic interpretations of this. What was productive about Charlottesville? What is productive in rioting? We do these things because we feel victimized by an evil system, and it all must be at the hands of this evil race we call White/Black/Latin/Asian/whatever.
We all have seen what we can destroy when we are mad at one another, imagine what we could build we lose the labels, stereotypes, and assumptions about each other and worked to ensure the future of mankind, not just one sliver of it.
Maurianne Adams, editor of “Conceptual Frameworks”, states this about the importance of race, “It can be challenging to discover that skin color, accented speech, perceived gender or sexual orientation, or the presence or absence of a physical or mental disability, are socially constructed … and are, therefore, useless as indicators” (3). Adams attempts to point out the un-importance of race and other factors that comprise who people are. She rather goes after the factors that make people important.
I whole-heartedly agree with this logic. We are not our outwardly appearance, we are what comprises our character. To allow ourselves to get bogged down in the tiniest details or stereotypes as a whole will only push us to stray further from a solution to the problems that plague humanity.
The issue of Reverse Racism has a negative effect on minority groups when it goes unnoticed in society, often times through race groups becoming dehumanized, failing to encourage racial cooperation, and promoting victimhood. Often times, issues that plague society can be pegged on certain social groups, despite the issue being inherent with society itself.
Continuing to discriminate upon one another encourages people to fall into familiar social groups, and furthermore encourage these social groups to not cooperate with others. If we continue to not acknowledge the issues with our society, we will only fall deeper into them, remaining permanent victims of solvable issues. We are not far from a more perfect society, and thus we must be vigilant, and yet also logical. We must be willing to work with one another, with no assumptions, bias, or casting out.
We try to make up for what little we know about people by proliferating the same old stereotypes about them. Asking questions about who a person is at their core should not be an old, antiquated tradition. Screw face value, I care about the person I am talking to, not about their skin color.