Let’s talk about “reverse racism.” (Edited 7-22-09)

July 17, 2009

so, with the sotomayor hearings going on, all of the ridiculousness we’ve been hearing from fearful white conservatives, i thought the comic below was especially appropriate.  i found it on feministing.com paired with an article about a rachel maddow interview with pat buchanan

i think this is a fantastic explanation of the phenomenon of the backlash against any movement, like affirmative action, that seeks to promote diversity in a workplace or group.  i’ve always thought it was funny (not funny haha, but funny as in ODDLY CONVENIENT for them) that conservative thinkers in particular like to get all up in arms about forced racial and gender equalization of the workforce.  i understand that people are afraid that the best person for the job will be overlooked in favor of a woman, a racial minority, or (GASP) a woman who is a racial minority…  but why is it so impossible that that woman, non-white man, or (GASP) non-white woman could actually BE the BEST PERSON for the job?  


furthermore, the term “reverse racism” is highly problematic itself, and i think its usage reveals the speaker’s (conscious or unconscious) personal issues.   the australian author of “Reverse Racism? Positive Discrimination, Affirmative Action, Reverse Racism–What’s in a Name?” gets to the point i’m eager to make here:

If our current definition of racism is so limited that its name has to be changed depending on the colour of the user’s skin, then surely the definition itself is a racist one. So, we need to simplify things by looking at the literal definition. “-isms” are beliefs. “Race” is an outmoded seventeenth century myth of biological difference invented to justify slavery and imperial expansion. So, racism is the belief in the existence of separate human races.

By that rationale most of Western society, whose structures and cultures are built upon the myth of racial groups determined by arbitrary physical characteristics, is a racist society.

Reversed, sideways, upside down – that’s just wrong, no matter which way you look at it.

we are a racist society (EDIT: except for stephen colbert, who does not see color!), and that is not good.  in a racist society, the only way to give a hand up to racial minorities is to do just that, openly, blatantly.  yes, giving a hand up in this way is racist.  but it has to be because we are a racist society.  until we are not–and how we get there and how long it will take, i don’t know–this is the best and most fair solution. 

i don’t know if i’m being as precise as i’d like to be; i think this entry could still use some work, but these are my thoughts as i’m processing them now. 



in addition, i’d like to point out henry louis gates, jr.’s, arrest for disorderly conduct at his home on july 16th, 2009.   as kim coleman states in the article, “we are not in a post-racial society.”  this incident and the public responses to it indicate the need for a deeper public awareness and practiced consciousness of race in the U.S.  the ACLU provides fact sheets to help us understand that affirmative action helps protect fairness and equality and provides a working definition of affirmative action.   the ACLU also provides a page presenting news updates concerning racial justice and affirmative action, if you’re interested in reading about current cases/issues.  the second entry listed on the site is from april of 2008 and focuses on oklahoma:

Equal Opportunity Foes Move to Pull Own Petition in Oklahoma, Calling It a Waste (4/4/2008)
Equal opportunity foes were dealt a blow last Friday when the proponents of an anti-affirmative action initiative in Oklahoma filed a motion to withdraw their own proposal, stating that the measure likely did not have enough valid signatures to make it onto the ballot. Proponents of the so-called Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative – backed by millionaire California businessman Ward Connerly and his so-called American Civil Rights Institute – were put on the defensive when local civil rights advocates, in collaboration with the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, began looking into the OKCRI’s fishy signature-gathering process earlier this year.


11 Responses to “Let’s talk about “reverse racism.” (Edited 7-22-09)”

  1. Courtney Says:

    This comic is fabulous. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Grant Says:

    Have you also noticed the patronizing tone many of the Republican senators have taken with Sotomayor, even though she is clearly their intellectual better? When Jeff Sessions of AL asked her “Do you know what identity politics means?” I almost threw up.

  3. Daniel Says:

    Something people haven’t seemed to pick up on, at least to any major extent, during this whole Sotomayor-reverse-racism business is that the plaintiff in the “white firefighters denied promotions” case, Frank Ricci, was actually hired as a firefighter in the first place due to laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace and equal-opportunity employment. Ricci was denied employment when he couldn’t pass the test due to his dyslexia. He sued, saying he was unfairly denied the job, citing the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    These laws designed to protect the rights of minorities and prevent employment discrimination sure are great…as long as you can use them to your own personal gain. Because if someone ELSE benefits from them, well, that would be just plain wrong.


  4. beamish Says:

    anyone else interested in a screening of Do The Right Thing, the 1989 film, this weekend?


    this article reminded me of it… i haven’t seen it, but i know the illustrious m. perry used it his freshman writing class pretty consistently. the discussions and assignments based on it looked great for conversation.

  5. beamish Says:

    and good point, danyo.

  6. Daniel Says:

    Where is it being screened? I saw it a couple years back but I’d certainly watch it again. Heavy moral amiguity–it leaves you with a bad feeling, but in a good way (lol wut?). I’m a big fan of Spike Lee. Bamboozled and Get On the Bus are two enormously underrated (and underwatched) films–I might even like them better than Do the Right Thing. Both lay the ugliness of modern racism on thick.

  7. beamish Says:

    it’s not; i was just curious. i might rent it for myself.

  8. Daniel Says:

    Cool, let me know what happens. I’m in.

  9. beamish Says:

    VIDEO: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/239121/july-20-2009/reverse-racism

    Colbert referred to Buchanan, who has been appearing on MSNBC all week claiming Sotomayor has “a lifelong resolve to discriminate against white males,” as a reverse civil rights leader, and showed a clip of him saying, “White men were 100% of the people who wrote the Constitution, 100% of the people who signed the Declaration of Independence, 100% of the people who died at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.” This, of course, prompted Colbert to say, “YEAH, where were the black guys during the Civil War? Come on, I’m not saying they all should have volunteered, just three fifths of them.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/21/colbert-mocks-conservativ_n_241764.html)

  10. beamish Says:

    ANOTHER VIDEO: http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/239122/july-20-2009/reverse-racism—geoffrey-canada

    Geoffrey Canada can’t find any area where white men are being disproportionately victimized.

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