Can Black People Be Racist? Yes, But No

You have probably heard the term “reverse racism.” Usually used by a white person who feels that a minority has just committed a racist act onto them. Thus, they’ve coined the action “reverse racism.” This term, however, holds no meaning because of the way that racism is defined by sociologists, it is not possible for Black people to be racist. I’ll define some terms to better explain what I mean. 

Racism is the systemically instituted oppression and discrimination of a particular group. 

Discrimination itself is the action of an individual based on a prejudiced view.

Prejudice is the preconceived opinion based on societal influences, not on actual observation.  

Everyone, no matter the race, inevitably has prejudice because everyone’s opinion is influenced based on those who surround them and the rest of society.

This systemic definition of racism makes it impossible for those who are oppressed to be racist. A Black person cannot keep a white community from voting. Just like how a Latinx person can’t block White immigrants from entering the United States. Discrimination, though, is different. Since discrimination is the actions that one takes based on their prejudices, and since everyone has prejudices, it means that everyone discriminates. So, what this all means is that yes, Black people can have prejudice, and yes, they can discriminate against White people, but no, they can’t be racist. Only those who gain advantage from the oppression of a certain group can be racist.

Basically, only White people can be “racist” in these terms of the definition. 

This concept does get more complicated, to an end, which I cannot decipher. Here’s what I mean. I previously defined racism as systemically enforced oppression by an institution. Most people, myself included, depict the government as this “institution.” And it is an institution. However, someone pointed this out to me. “What if you had a company that was run by black people and enforced rules that were advantageous towards the other Black people, but at the same time hindered the White people employed at the business. Then could Black people be racist?” I had to think about it for a bit, but I couldn’t come up with a definite answer. Because if you think about the government, if it were made up of majority Black people and enforced rules that were disadvantageous towards White people, then yes Black people could be racist. But I guess where I have trouble figuring out is whether the size of the racist institution matters. Because while a company can drastically affect your life, it can’t enforce or allow police brutality. Nor can it mass incarcerate a minority race. However, as I have said, a business can drastically affect one’s life, it can prevent people of a certain race from progressing up the company and other acts alike.

I still think and try to figure out what the answer is to this question I was asked, if I figure it out I’ll be sure to post it. If any of you have any answers agreeing or not, please feel free to comment or email me.

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