I wrote a column a couple of months ago for the University Star about why I thought minorities, specifically black people, cannot be racist. Disregarding the comments that questioned my mental health and stability, a lot of commenters brought inquiries I believe I should attempt to answer. The point of this column is to clarify the points I was making in my last column.
It is true—black people and minorities can be racist. However, they cannot carry out acts of racism because they do not have the opportunities or resources to practice racism in the manner white Americans have in the past and present.
Racism is racism, and it is still defined as “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
That being said, it is inherently true that anyone can be racist, but minorities in America are not racist without reason.
Historically, racism in America was founded on the belief that races not of European descent were inferior and no better than animals. The hatred black Americans or other minority members may have for people who do not look like them is often times reactionary—an effect to a cause.
Racism between two different minority groups often stems from preconceived notions and stereotypes contrived by white Americans in the past. Minority groups carry these prejudices around daily as if a part of their skin.
People were incensed at my claim “black people cannot be racist,” and one cannot help but wonder why. The personal attacks aimed at me, and the reaction from several commenters only seemed to qualify my belief that some white people do not truly understand racism, how it works in this country and how it pertains to minorities.
Minority “racism” stems from personal experiences and daily interactions with racist white people. It was not a liberal education or soft schooling that taught blacks and other minorities about racism—it was our interactions with institutional and personal racism.
We are at a large disadvantage, and when we choose to voice our opposition to the injustices our people face, we are deemed racist or “professional victims.” The only way someone could become a “professional victim” is if they are continuously put into a position where they are mistreated. We are victims because America has made us so—not out of personal choice.
“People believing themselves infallible to being racist is one of the main things keeping institutional racism alive,” said commenter Ronald.
I cannot help but agree with his sentiment. I do not believe black people cannot be racist, but their disdain for the white race is often diminished to prejudice because they have no real power to practice racism.
There is no system set up for minorities to benefit from based on racial means.
There is no protection against murder by law enforcement officials and the prison system for minority groups like Hispanics and black Americans that also disenfranchises another race.
No one is arguing or implying that blacks deserve more respect than whites or should be allowed privileges and immunities because they are black. Black people just deserve respect because 240 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, we are still treated as if our lives do not matter.
How can we be racist, if we are not even considered a part of the human race?
-Mikala Everett is a digital media junior