Black people cannot be racist, and here’s why

Black people cannot be racist, and here’s why

Illustration by: Maria Tahir | Staff Illustrator

Minorities cannot be racist. I’ll say it louder for the people in the back who did not hear me—minorities cannot be racist.

Racism is 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 definition was not found on Tumblr or Buzzfeed, but good ole Merriam-Webster.

The system of racism begins with a race designating itself as superior to another. To carry out acts of racism, a race must have power and privilege. There has never been a time in American history when a race other than white has had power and privilege over another—especially in the case of African-Americans.

Now this is not to say that minorities cannot be prejudiced or practice discriminatory behaviors because they definitely can and have done so. Bigotry, the stubborn intolerance of any race, creed, belief or opinion different from one’s own, can be practiced by any race. As a part of a community that has experienced tremendous amounts of bigotry and racism to this day, it is important that we as African-Americans direct our anger and hurt at the institution of racism and not people.

People are not born with prejudice or racism. Harmful and hateful ideologies such as, “All black people lie, steal and kill,” have to be taught. I know it hurts when you see yet another act of police brutality against someone who looks like you.

I know how it feels to realize that our race makes up 38 percent of arrests for violent crimes even though we are only 12 percent of the population.

I know exactly how it feels to be pulled over just because you are black. African-Americans made up 42 percent of stops on the New Jersey turnpike, yet others claim we are being whiny when we bring up past and current discrimination.

I know how it feels to proclaim that “black lives matter” and have someone have the audacity to claim that “all lives matter,” as though I was implying they did not. I know it seems like we are at the bottom of the barrel or that we are no more important than the gum on a shoe, but that is not the case.

We are important. There are those out there raised on racist ideologies and beliefs that will try to put us down and tell us that our issues and our voices are not important. And they are 50 shades of wrong.

We must remember when faced with adversity that institutional racism is very much alive, but that does not mean that it cannot be overcome. We must remember not to let hate seep into our souls and corrupt us. We must be strong, and we must love.

How would it look for us to take on the characteristics—the hate—of our oppressors? Although we may not have the power or privilege to be racist, we do have the power to stand up for what is right.

Now it’s time to put that left fist up and get in formation.



The author has since written a column in response to comments made to this column. You can read it here.


    • I cant be racist because my white privilege counter acts any chance that I could be racist. Thank God for white privilege and its racist blocking abilities .

      • Just because you can’t get past the 3rd paragraph or don’t understand the word, or do not want to understand the words; doesn’t mean that the reasoning wasn’t explained.

        Here’s the TLDR version for you: Racism, like any behavior is learned. So stop teaching it. The institution that teaches it is racist, not the people that are forced to learn racism from it. People perpetuate it.

        • It’s ignorant because she, like most “professional victims”, is completely ignoring the true definition of racism and making up her own.

          Umm, that is NOT how the English language works. You can’t just decide to change the literal definition of something because you don’t like it.

          • “It’s ignorant because she, like most “professional victims”, is completely ignoring the true definition of racism and making up her own.” – Yeah that’s the complaint I have about the article. You don’t get to change the definition of words on a whim to meet your narrative and your stance on a situation. That create false equivalencies. Racism is a form of prejudice based on race. They are not mutually exclusive terms.

            But the part about how racism starts to occur, is pretty much on point. It’s learned behavior.

        • All the post was whining about how they have “stats” that black people are being “mistreated” and they have no institutional power. Therefore black people can’t be racist but prejudice. that wasn’t helpful at all!
          And no one is mistreating you!!!! No sane person is teaches about how black people are thieves!

        • In our modern day society, blacks, are the ones teaching racism. Not saying they are all this way, but by them holding onto such hate, entitlement, and self-pity they cause other races(not just whites) to look down on them. The article is correct in stating racism is taught, so now its time for black American’s to show America they can do many great things.

  1. I hope you’re not a graduate student or someone who has graduated because if so the education system has failed you. To make the claim that only white people can be racist is flat out wrong. Black people as well as Hispanic people use derogatory terms to describe white people everyday but that isn’t racist? You are looking solely into the denotiative meaning and failed to bring into account the connotative meaning. If you would have done a little bit of reserch you would have found that meaning to be more along the lines of anything that is used as a demeaning manner to institute one race as superior/inferior to another. So using racial slur from a black to a white conveys the same message as a slur from white to black they are both used in a demeaning manner to establish superiority over the other race and make them feel inferior. You do not have to have wealth nor privilege to be able to spout out racial slurs and commit acts of violence towards another race.It has been said before and it will be said again all lives matter not just black ones. Anyone who is a victim of a racially charged act deserves the same respect regardless of race. Honeslty writing a racially charged misinformed article on a paper that is semi-affiliated with the university is atrocious we do not need people at the Star writing derogatory articles about certain groups! (i.e.the one about the Greek Community which accumulated in a a ton of backlash and ultimately was deleted) also you contradicted yourself in the middle of your column

  2. I found this piece to be thought-provoking but flawed in several ways. For one, the current Merriam-Webster definition of racism ( is actually not the one you have included in your article. But seeing as your piece is based off of that definition, I’d like to offer some quick and loose counter-points for thought.

    1. You have created as a prerequisite for racism that in order to be racist, the race of a person must be a race with power and privilege, which is unsupported by the rest of your article.

    2. You mention that there has never been a time in american history where the white race has not been the privileged race. You seem to be forgetting the thousands of years before Europeans invaded America, which still counts as american history. I’ll assume you meant pre-invasion. Otherwise you’d be engaging in erasure of the non-white history of North America pre-European invasion. Which would be a pretty racist thing to do.

    3. The click-bait-esque title “Black people cannot be racist, and here’s why” seems to rely on a racist assumption that nowhere in the world are black people the race of privilege and power. Which isn’t true. Perhaps, to be better aligned with your argument that being a minority makes you infallible to racism, you should change it to black people in america.

    4. Also, going with the “logic” of infallibility to racism due to a minority status, how does that apply to minority-on-minority racism?

    Someone saying “I can’t be racist because I’m…” seems to be the kind of thinking that leads to institutional racism to begin with. So many white people claim to “not see color,” and then go on to practice racist acts because they aren’t checking themselves. Whether it’s accidental or purposeful, it’s still racist. People believing themselves infallible to being racist is one of the main things keeping institutional racism alive.

    So, cause my lunch hour is almost up, I’ll close with this. I think all races are capable of racism, to argue otherwise is racist itself. The thing is, black people being racist in the US isn’t what needs to be addressed, and it isn’t what is maintaining systemic institutional racism. Racism from white people in the US is the problem. Whether other races “can be racist” is an argument in semantics and will only postpone real change.

    • Shut the fuck up! You are such an idiot. Dropped out of school when you were 8 or something. This article is not racist and whoever wrote this is intelligent. You can stop writing your nasty comments, she does NOT have to stop writing because of your beliefs.

      • Alyssa, you, like the author, either doesn’t know how to read or you are just too lazy to pick up a dictionary.

        Then again, you probably have actually read the definition of racism but for some strange reason you have the “special snowflake” disease and think you can just change the definition of a word in order to suit your retarded, childish and down right moronic agenda.

        You do realize that having a career as a professional victim will get you nowhere, right? Grow up.

  3. Wow, it looks like the University Star has officially hit a new low. The kind of logic that you use Mikala is ridiculous. You even use statistics to show the disproportionate amount of crime black people commit, but yet someone think this is a good argument to use as to why black people deserve more respect? The whole point of the article is to say “black people can’t be racist” but then go on to say “Now this is not to say that minorities cannot be prejudiced or practice discriminatory behaviors because they definitely can and have done so” You’re literally contradicting yourself. Click-bait title intended to do nothing but piss people off instead of creating a logical argument.

    • Well, I disagree with the author, too. I know that black people can be racist. I live in New York and have been threatened by blacks who call me vile racist things. You don’t need an economic or political system to express racism. Weapons as simple as fists will do.

      The boy I loved more than live itself who was savagely mauled in Central Park by two black males who made it quite clear that they were trying to kill him because he was white certainly knew that.

      White racism is indeed a serious problem in this country. But that doesn’t mean that only whites can be racist.

      I suspect that most people, upon hearing Louis Ferrakhan say that all white people need to be killed would see that as racist. Don’t you?

    • Exactly. This further shows how uneducated, how mis-educated, ignorant white racist people are in this world. I bet if not all, most of these comments are from white people. You will come across some academically challenged Africans who will side with these racists as well. Black White Supremacist which are the most dangerous kinds of white supremacists.

  4. Her mistake is this: anybody of any color or culture can be racist against a different color or culture. Black people can absolutely be racist and some of them are, just as some white people are racist and some Asians are racist, etc. The point she’s trying to make is that there’s no such thing as institutional black supremacy, when there is such a thing as institutional white supremacy. However she makes this point poorly and with silly ad hoc reasoning and her article suffers.

  5. How grossly ignorant. University has turned into indoctrinational institutions. … enjoy your job search with that oh so valuable liberal arts degree hahaha!

  6. You’re CORRECT. Some are also correct she didn’t learn about Racism White Supremacy as a system in school she learned it from YOU. Racism White Supremacy as a system is maintained because of the manipulation, deception and lies. How can black people discriminate systematically against white people globally?
    Who creates or produces white privilege for white people?

    • No she ‘s not. Black Muslims are equally as racist as racist White people. And on judgment day God will hold ALL of them accountable. There’s no reason for human beings not to get along with other human beings. ALL White people are not racist and ALL Black people are not harmonious. There’s NO EXCUSE in the world for NOT practicing racial harmony. Satan is my enemy, not my fellow man. It is he who is responsible for all this hatred as he’s out to divide and conquer. All of HUMANITY needs to stick together and fight against HIM, not each other. People need to support people more instead of standing behind racial color lines. Time out for all the nonsense.

    • Please explain to me the privilleges that whites have that blacks dont. Why is it that when whites critize something a black person says he/she is then racist. But not the other way around? Telling a person hes racist because he doesnt agree with what a black person says is racist towards whites. You imply hes critizing her just because shes black. When hes just critizing her views. Also in before people start calling me racist for writing this. Lmao this is what the world has come to.. my god people like you are ignorant.

  7. People who hate and discriminate against other people CAN be racist and ARE racist. Being a minority does not give you a free pass of exclusion. If you hate other non-Black people, refuse to interact with them and intentionally segregate yourself in a non Jim Crow era, you ARE racist. As a mixed race Black person I am so tired of some of US doing our level best to get away with it. Jesus died for the forgiveness of sins for ALL and is rich unto ALL who call upon His name. God hates division, so instead of looking for excuses to DIVIDE, EVERY race needs to come together, STAY together and support each other as HUMAN BEINGS instead of being focused on what “your ancestors did to my ancestors” 2000 years ago. I’m not racist, I’ve never been racist, I’ll never be racist and I don’t care. Whatever your skin color, this mixed race hodgepodge LOVES you and considers you my brother!!!! Stop the madness.

  8. Mikala
    “White” is not a “race”

    I think it would be very interesting to see all of you take a Family Tree DNA Test.

    Is someone “white” if they have “white” blood? Is someone “black” if they have “black” blood? Does the person decide what race they are? President Obama says he is an African America, yet he has both the DNA of a Black and a White man. He says he is a “Black” man. What is Black? What is White?

    I ask you, am I a Back man or am I a White man? Can you tell by what I have written? And, does it truly matter?

    Try this link to decide who you are. When you get the results, you may be very surprised.

  9. So, I’m the last of my family to qualify to Cherokee, making me a minority. Then I’m not racist saying this is the most racist article I’ve read in quite a while…

  10. Sorry but to say white people can’t be the victims of racism by other races is racist in and of itself. Not all whites are born with a silver spoon, ANYONE of ANY race can suffer from poverty, poverty knows no race. All lives matter, we should not and cannot focus on just one group when everyone needs help. Yes black lIves matter, but whites lives matter too same for every other race, people of every race are suffering not just blacks and not blacks more than others it’s selfish to say one race suffers more than all the rest.

  11. Funny how blacks who claim they’re oppressed and suffer from racism by whites are racist towards whites. The racial roles have flipped whites are now the victims of racism by minorities not whites being racist you can disagree but look around you wake up

  12. Great article! Those of you who claim that the author is racist have completely missed the entire point. If you are students you should ask for a refund on your tuition because there is no hope for you.

  13. Racism is discrimination based on race (by any race)

    by saying you can not be racist against whites, you yourself are being racist.

    I speak Vietnamese and a decent amount of Mandarin, as well as a basic understanding of Spanish…. oh and English…. I can confidently say that no understanding of the meaning of racism differs from that definition. I dare you to find a language where it is different.

    You are just a despicable person trying to justify your own racial biases!
    Have I experienced racism from white people, Yes! But even then most was not so much “racist” as it would be ignorance of other cultures.
    But I have experienced just as much from Black people. Hispanics are not free either!
    Also even in Asian communities, there is a lot of racism. (Even among other Asians)

    Everyone needs to be held accountable for their own actions, and their actions only!

  14. Mikala,

    I found the following while considering the points made in your article. Maybe this fills in the idea behind your statement “minorities can’t be racist”?

    “All white individuals in our society are racists. Even if a white is totally free
    from all conscious racial prejudices, he remains a racist, for he receives
    benefits distributed by a white racist society through its institutions. Our
    institutional and cultural processes are so arranged as to automatically benefit
    whites, just because they are white.
    “It is essential for whites for whites to recognized that they receive most of
    these racist benefits automatically, unconsciously, unintentionally.”
    –from EDUCATION & RACISM, National Education Association. 1973

    I applaud your honest admission that, if not de facto racism, bigotry and other bad behaviors are exhibited by persons of all races and/or ethnicity. Setting aside that fact that the clenched fist has for millennia been a potent symbol of very specific meaning to arguably dangerous organizations worldwide, what are you raising your fist to fight for? Are you claiming self-respect? Is this a call for social justice. Is this a call to revolution? Is it about equality or changing the balance of power. I get that the goal is to change institutions, but violence and oppression follow that particular symbol everywhere it goes.

    I’m no scholar, and yeah, I’m Caucasian, so i cant possibly understand the experience of the dark complected human. I have daughters and i see the injustice of gender, but that doesn’t really compare to the “struggle”. But, maybe i can imagine… maybe.

    If one is (or at least attains to be) the person described above, what then? Are they of no value? Can they no longer be be not judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character? Are they to be subjugated, or oppressed, or destroyed? You said this wasn’t about hurting people, but that is the very predictable outcome. Angry people are a turn off no matter what color their skin is. Nobody of any skin color likes to be around them, right. Does your movement want justice or blood? Personally, i don’t believe humans can effect a solution satisfactory for everyone.

    This may be an over-simplification, but if all humans are equal, it wasn’t any institution that made that true. Isn’t it a natural Law, like gravity. Instead of begging or killing for a seat at the table, wouldn’t it be more productive to just build your own table?

  15. “Racism is 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 definition was not found on Tumblr or Buzzfeed, but good ole Merriam-Webster.”

    Wrong. Merriam-Webster’s definition said nothing about “all members”. You twisted the actual words.

    “a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race”

    Nowhere is “all members” said in the definition. You pretty much rewrote the definition to fit the way you wanted it.

    And this part…

    “The system of racism begins with a race designating itself as superior to another. To carry out acts of racism, a race must have power and privilege. There has never been a time in American history when a race other than white has had power and privilege over another—especially in the case of African-Americans.”

    Now you just make stuff up. A person does not need to have power or privilege to be a racist. That is the whole basis of your argument which is totally false.

    What this does show is how ridiculous colleges are becoming when they produce articles like this. Only a brainwashed liberal SJW would believe any of this tripe.

  16. I remember when I was in high school some African American teens who were involved in instigating a riot at a football game were expelled. 5 days later Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Push coalition showed up as stated yelling racism in every street corner. Even though the punishment was fair and justified, they were forced to allow them back in due to public pressure. You’re wrong when you say minorities dont have power or privilege. All it takes is one person yelling racism and they have all the power they need, regardless of the truth. Anytime you support the agenda of a single race instead of equality for all, you’re a racist.

  17. Of course Blacks can be racist, just as any other race of people on this old planet can be. Whether they be White, Oriental, Native American, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, or whatever, every person is capable of racism, and anyone who claims otherwise only reinforces the fact that they are indeed, racist. All this hogwash about minorities not being capable of racism and that only “whites” are capable of it is racist in and of itself.

  18. Just curious, do most colleges now commonly accept ignoring text book definitions of words and allow Liberal Arts teachers and professional victim students to change the definition of any word they choose in order to fit their ridiculous agenda?

    You are literally completely changing the definition of the word racism to something it isn’t. If you need to refresh your memory I highly recommend you get your dictionary out and READ IT.

  19. Lmmfao!

    Black people can’t be racist? Are you retarded? Do you know what racism even is?

    Its 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.

    Nothing there prevents blacks from being included in that. I’ve experienced racism from black people. RACISM. IT EXISTS AGAINST OTHER RACES BESIDES JUST BLACK.

    Yes, there are black people that ARE RACIST. Ya see it every day in these good ol United States.

    Quit being so damned ignorant. Blacks can be/are just as racist as any other race. THEY PROVE IT EVERY DAY.

    Their response to “ALL lives matter” just proves my point.

  20. The point of the article: Institutionalized racism is real and only comes from positions of power.
    The point being made in the comments: white people have been made fun of before.

    1) Anybody can use slurs and anyone can have prejudices used against them.
    2) White people do not face the racism of being profiled, pulled over, arrested and convicted at higher rates, their children being tried as adults at 18 times the rates of others. (Yes, African American children are tried as adults 18 times more than white children). Lets not forget that white people do not get gunned down as African Americans do.
    3) When white people commit crimes, they are taken into prison alive and treated better. When African Americans commit crimes, they are shot or brought into prison and do not receive the treatment that white people do in court.
    4) When was the last time a white person was shot when they were unarmed?

    If you think that slurs are the only form of racism important enough to make a stink about in the comments section, you need to do a bit more research/listening. I am truly sorry if you have experienced racism. I am not sorry that you don’t understand that you and I both experience white privilege.

  21. This article is by far the most stupid and racist article I have personally read. This is racism coming from a black woman who has the reasoning of a 7 year old. Anyone regardless of ethnicity can be a racist, anyone who agrees with this womans article is profoundly stupid and was most likely raised to hate other people while thinking their race is better than any other given race.

  22. I mean, really! I’ve heard this crap for over 10 years. Why are you further defining a term to single out a group of people? So you can point your finger at them and say “I told you so?” If equality is really your goal then stop writing garbage like this. I have to be perfectly honest, when I read articles like this one I am encouraged to be racist. However I do not respond in kind because I know better and I do not want to stoop to the writer’s level. As evidenced by the responses, your article is racially divisive in nature and, in my book, anything that is racially divisive is racist. My point? You are racist, not me. You have the problem, not me. You need to get over it so you can work side by side with “whitey” and not have a chip on your shoulder. Pull your head out of your ass and grow up!

  23. This author is ignorant. In the first sentence it’s set out that racism is a “feeling.” Nothing – and I repeat for the people in the back of the room – NOTHING – is required for anyone to have a feeling other than to be a living being with an active brain stem.

  24. hahahah… How did I know this was written by a Black woman before even looking at it… Gee I wonder.. Get over it! its 2016 there are just as many racist black men and women out there in ratio as whites. I have met both sides of racism on the white side and black side. Also my granddad, his grand dad, my dad nor me owned slaves so I do not owe you blacks anything. And even if we did none of you are alive or suffered from it. You have same hours in day as I do, Same opportunities as I do, you just choose to put any blame you can to make excuses and a majority of people blacks included are sick and tired of hearing the excuses. You people need to listen to Tommy Sotomayor little more, he explains perfectly why your race has a bad view by many of the other races out there. Not all blacks are bad but there is a reason you guys are holding onto the race card. Start fending for yourselves and get off the white peoples backs. WE are tired of carrying the burden for those who do not want to fend for themselves and make them and their race a better race.

  25. Classic example of the average black america’s victim mindset. They can only be victims. They never do anything wrong. If a police officer even SPEAKS to them then they are “driving while black” or “shopping while black”, case closed.

  26. Your writing implies that whites think of blacks like subhuman life forms. That, in itself, is prejudicial. You are judging all whites in this way and it is not true.

  27. This is about as good as any of Trumps fake news from Russian hackers. I asked several of my friends who don’t happen to be white if they think people of there heritage are racist. The answers I got were bascially “OMFG you have no idea how racist they are!” So there you have it. Anyone can discriminate against anyone for whatever reason, because, as we all know, there is no scientific biological empirical basis for race. It’s a social construct. It’s just something someone things, that’s all it is. And as we know ideas can be changed. So rather than dividing people into black and white, and hating whites because well they’re just not as good as coloured people why don’t we realize we’ve all been had, and hang up the race card once and for all. We should be working together to overthrow capitalism and end religious hate and violence, not screaming about your skin colour and some micro aggression (which is just psychological abuse with a trendy label for the hip).

  28. I think you may be indulging in a normal state of emotional, and intellectual awareness Called said denial. When we face a hard truth in our lives, a traumatic truth, we often turn to denial. As you’ve grown and matured emotionally and intellectually, you’ve come to realize the unhealthiness in people who you trusted and felt safe in, you are having to face the reality/knowledge of their own abusive racist acts against a pigment group you saw as the source of racism in the world. Martin Luther King Jr. gently and attentively addressed that although one pigment group held more power, both sides had to nullify their racism against one another. As racism is an ancient global problem, and all pigment groups are responsible for such abusive habitual behaviors that need to be addressed by all pigment groups despite how much power they appear to the other to have.

  29. This article is so stupid, it’s clear that this person doesn’t know anything about history, besides of what people in today’s society have told her. (Whites stole blacks from
    Africa) Has she heard about the Slave Trade?

  30. Whites have a legacy of working prosperous societies while black have a history of genitalia mutilations.
    Africa is not 1 % more developed than it was 3000 years ago and all the black people want to go into white countries beacose of the good life, working law system, etc.
    Whites are a minority in this world ( i believe its only 3%) and while that are very few compared to other races, they ruled the world for millennia. Their strong sense of honor, discipline and technological skills placed them in front of everyone else. Today blacks ( not all of them, some are very intelligent) are arrogant and spoon-fed by white people invented taxation system. They envy the white man superiority instead of learning from it.
    They all have smartphones(invented by whites) in the hands and openly hate the very people who invented everything around them while expecting all the good life provided by the white society who adopted them and gave them the same rights as evrione. They are so full of envy that they cannot even understand that even the toilet they are taking a dump on is invented by whites


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