I hear this a lot. In fact, I heard it yesterday when someone wrote a response to a post saying that those protesting against racism are racists themselves (they qualified it by saying that it’s not the one’s protesting back in the 50s and 60s. Remember how I talked about the “Safe Anti-Racists”?). Of course, this is idiotic… or is it? I guess it all comes down to how you view racism and whether or not you say stuff like that to begin with just to make you feel better about yourself because you don’t want to confront the uncomfortable truth.
Can black people be racists? First off, when someone says something like this what they are really doing is deflecting. They are trying to invalidate someone else’s feelings or the cause they protesting against. Second, they are usually saying it via their personal viewpoint of what is and isn’t racism to satisfy their own racists objectives. However, most of the time they are just ill-informed and when that’s the case then we’ve got something to work with.
Believe me, I’ve asked this question before of Freedom Riders, Luvaghn Brown and Hank Thomas, and got some interesting responses. Luvaghn said “yes” and Hank said “no” but they both came back to the same conclusion in the end.
I heard Curtis Linton of the Domino Foundation describe it this way (and I’m paraphrasing): Race is merely the color we assign to a person. Racism would then be the stereotypes and biases we assign to that color. Now, that’s a very simplistic way of explaining things (which is the point) and so on the surface one could then say that blacks can be racists. However, Curtis, Luvaghn and Hank would all come to the same conclusion: When we talk about racism in America we are talking about one group (whites) who oppresses another group (people of color) to maintain power. This can often be referred to as institutional racism. The institutions of racism to maintain the status quo and, I would submit, the institutionalization of the minds of both whites and blacks to perpetuate the institution through the myth of superior/inferior positions.
So, what is one really getting at here? First, just because someone doesn’t like you doesn’t mean they are racists. No one says you have to like someone and, yes, black people aren’t required to like white people by default (I know that shocks a lot of people to hear that). Can blacks be prejudice or bigoted towards whites? Yes, because that doesn’t require a position of power. In fact, you do see blacks doing this against other blacks based on the darkness of one’s skin. However, it should be pointed out that this is not evidence that black people are racist. Now, you’re going to get someone who reads this and talk about Africa and that based on the definition of racism I positioned here that clearly blacks are racists. No, that’s something completely different and we’re not going to start down that road.
But my question is, “Why is it so important for a white person to point something like this out to begin with? Why do they feel so compelled to post a video about Dinesh D’Souza erroneously talking about “black culture” being the problem and not racism or rant about how BLM is racist because they protest against police shootings of black people (believe me, I had someone try and convince me that the police were a “race”)?” It’s because they fear their own inferiority (it’s why one says poor people are lazy because it makes them believe that they are the only ones who work hard and deserve something). In short, they fear losing the power they believe is entitled to them because of a racist ideology. Instead of wondering if black people are racists it’s probably best to ask if you yourself are racist or are complicit in the perpetuation of that same racist ideology. It’s okay to recognize that you might continue to harbor these sentiment but it’s not okay to continue giving them space.