Sunday, August 24, 2014

Calling White People "Racist" Is Racist

When I was a student at Ohio Dominican University, there was a race incident.  One of the students thought it'd be a good idea to put up a "Whites Only" sign in one of the dorm bathrooms.  This sparked outrage among all of the students, myself included, and it spawned protests from the black students at ODU.

The black students at ODU were upset because they felt that the administration did not do enough to investigate the incident and catch the person responsible.  They also used this as a backdrop to highlight what they perceived to be a "lack of diversity" at the University.

I remember in a sociology class of mine, some of the black students who were sort of spearheading the protests expressed their concerns.  From what I heard from them, they were mad that there was not an "African Studies" program at ODU.  Now, mind you, Ohio Dominican University is a small school, maybe 4,000 students total, many of them adult students trying to get their MBA.  There were not many black undergrad students there, and it certainly was not because of a lack of effort on ODU's part.

Diversity was always a big deal at ODU, even before the protests.  For small universities, it can be difficult to create new major programs because of the money and resources that go into offering an accredited major course of study.  Of course, these subtleties were lost on the students protesting.  I don't blame them.  They were your average know-it-all 18 year old college kids.

At any rate, the incident and the protests made it into the Columbus Dispatch.  The whole damn city knew about it, and Columbus is a fairly big place.  It didn't bother me until one day when I was waiting at the crosswalk to go over to the school parking lot.  The crosswalk is at a very busy section of Sunbury Rd..  One particular afternoon, a car approached the crosswalk where myself and another white girl were waiting patiently for our chance to cross.  The car slowed down, and a black woman in the passenger seat shouted at me and the girl: "racist assholes!"  True story.

The girl and I, whom I didn't really know, gave each other a look mixed with equal parts befuddlement and offense.  We shrugged, gave an uneasy laugh, and went about our lives.  I didn't just go about my day, though.  That moment has stuck with me to this day.

If I walked up to a black person and said to him, "I bet you love fried chicken and watermelon," then I would be branded a racist.  If I went up to an Asian person and said "hey, I want you to make me some egg rolls," I might be branded a racist.  If I said to a Hispanic person "I bet you're an illegal Mexican immigrant," I would most certainly be branded a racist.  Now, the funny thing about those statements is that while they might be considered to be racially charged, they are true for some members of those racial/ethnic communities.

Yes, there are in fact black people who love fried chicken and watermelon (I love both of those things myself).  It's no secret that the people making the egg rolls in Chinese restaurants are, in fact, Asian.  And I'm sorry to say it, but the illegal immigrants coming from Mexico are Mexican--people of Hispanic/Latin descent.  But the problem with those statements is that they are considered to be racial stereotypes and therefore offensive.

So I have just one question: why is it not considered racist to call a white person racist?

I didn't know that woman who called me a racist, and she didn't know me.  Yet for some reason, just by looking at me, she somehow determined that I must be racist.  What was the basis for her assumption?  The color of my skin.

Just apply a little logic to this concept.  If it is racist to make a generalization on someone because of their race, then one must accept that to assume a white person is racist is, itself, racist.  And no, it's not "reverse racism."  There is no such thing.  If you have a hard time wrapping your brain around that, then consider this.  To be racist means that you have a sense of superiority over another race of humans.  Tell me that the woman who erroneously called me a racist didn't feel a sense of superiority over me, a white man she assumed is racist.  Since her assumption was based solely on my skin color, then ultimately what was the source of her sense of superiority?  My skin color.

What a twist, eh?  For the reasons of closure, the Ohio Dominican University administration did conduct an investigation of the "Whites Only" sign incident.  As it turned out, it was actually one of the black students at ODU that made and posted up the sign.  He confessed to it.

Go figure.

2 comments:

Luke Brannigan said...

"Reverse racism" should be a term we use when dismantling racism in our selves and communities, not the opposite. Racism, sexism, nationalism, and all other -isms should be erased from our society, and not encouraged or ignored by any sector of society.

Music Dredge said...

Racismand prejudice are two different things that happen to be related.
Her assuming that you are racist is prejudice not racism. You pretending to justify stereotypes by claiming that because some people in a community happen to do those things is still a prejudice not racism. Someone lashing out at someone because they think they are racist isn't the same as a person feeling they are superior. There is no stereotype that has been associated with all white people that has the power to hurt that entire group.
The woman you met assumed you were racist is because the town you live in is predominantly white with little diversity (which happens to be a common place for racists).
That was her prejudice, she wasn't being racism. She stereotyped you.That is still not racism.
As to your question "Why is not racist to call a white person racist?"

Racism is usually power +prejudice. Non whites don't have the power to oppress anyone.
You will still be able to go into society and still have all the associated privileges of being white. Whether you recognize that or get it is your issue.
The town you like live in didn't have African studies because whites don't have to learn about other cultures and history unless unlike non whites in America who will be subjected to a white dominated history.