Racism v Reverse Racism

In a recent “discussion” with an individual of the Right Wing persuasion, I was told that “racism is no long a problem, reverse racism is the issue.”

I don’t believe that, in the least.

I could research pages of data to support my contention that racism is alive and well in the US. The statistics are endless and, of course, are subject to interpretation, correctly or not. Rather than a dry, academic exercise, I am just going to express my thoughts on a couple of recent observations.

It has been my thought that the election of President Barack Obama has done more to expose the racist underbelly of America than any other event since the assassination of Dr. King in 1968. In my view, the election of the first black president did not prove that America has moved past race, rather it proved just the opposite.

The barrage of racially-tinged commentary about the candidate and now president was bewildering. The intensity of commentary was made even more disconcerting by it’s acceptance, particularly by the Right.

Affirmative action is usually given as proof of the claim of reverse racism, which is laughable to me, considering the long history of discrimination in America.

“Blacks have a 375-year history on this continent: 245 involving slavery, 100 involving legalized discrimination, and only 30 involving anything else.”  – Roger Wilkins

How can leveling the playing field be “reverse racism” when the minorities were the victims of discrimination for a century and a half?

The term “affirmative action” was first used by President John F. Kennedy in Executive Order 10925, issued on March 6, 1961. Despite a 50 year history, various efforts at affirmative action have not yet to eradicate discrimination in housing, employment and education. Significant improvements have been made, but the road ahead is still very long.

I have faith that a new generation, one that has grown up without segregation and discrimination as obvious as that that we grew up with, will break through the barriers that kept racism alive during our lifetimes.

I can only pray.

(The tread photo is of the dead body of Michael Donald, a black man randomly chosen by the Ku Klux Klan and lynched in 1981, after an unrelated black man’s trial was declared a mistrial in a case of a murder of a police officer in Mobile, Alabama. The lynching was totally an act of senseless violence. Donald had nothing to do with the trial. His family sued the Klan and were awarded a $7 million settlement.)

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under racism

29 responses to “Racism v Reverse Racism

  1. You wrote what I think only wrote it much better. You do a great job, Will!

    I’m counting on youth! For so much we can’t seem to get right. (sigh)

    Is prejudice so ingrained in some people they can’t even recognize it any longer?

  2. indypendent

    What I fear is with our current unemployment rate and the economy still not rebounding, the right-wingers will only gather more strength in their calls of reverse racism.

    Personally, I think this is why the AZ illegal immigration law has struck such a chord with the rest of the country.

    People are hurting and there are not enough jobs for everyone. So the simple answer would be to deport all illegals and then there would be jobs.

    But – those jobs the illegals have were here when the currently unemployed were still working. These folks did not want those jobs then – why would they want them now?

    I do think we need to get a handle on illegal immigration – because the current policy is obviously not working.

    Bottom line – this time around, it is not the old racism of white vs black. I think it is white vs hispanic.

    There is an ugliness about this entire election cycle is unsettling.

    • indypendent

      I would also like to add:

      I think this entire situation has been manipulated by the our corporate mentality.

      Big Business has exploited the illegals for years for low wages. The wealthy and corporations have used the Republicans to implement all those tax cuts and subsidies to outsource American jobs to drive down the wages.

      And now these same corporations are pitting one group against the other. And they are all walking away with very big profits.

      I think this entire scenario has been a carefully constructed way to get Americans’ wages low.

      Or maybe I am just in my conspiracy thinking mood today?


      • You sure have hit the nail on the head, indy! The whole thing is very carefully constructed, I think, and we have all been so busy worrying about whether Obama has a real birth certificate or whether the Republicans stole elections to really look closely at the bigger picture of what corporate america is doing, not just to us, but to the world. It’s not a conspiracy theory; it’s just facts, based on evidence and based on historical experience of the human race.

  3. David B

    Did you catch that big fat radio guys’ rant about how Oprah was MADE rich and famous because she is black? She didn’t, apparently ‘earn’ her fame and fortune, she was ‘made’ a success, following some crazy racial theory he has in his head.

    • indypendent

      Which big fat radio guy? Can you be more specific – they all seem to be that way. LMAO

      If it is Rush, wasn’t he also the one that defended those Somali pirates that he claimed Obama killed but left out the part of the story where they had held a hostage for several days?

      Yeah, he is a true patriot – eyes roll.

      So, anything this man says needs to be flushed back down to the sewer where it originated.

      • Maybe big fat radio guys knows from whence he speaks. Maybe he was “made” as well, because he is a white guy from a powerful political family.

        So he’s not really pissed that she was “made”; he’s pissed that she doesn’t have the right genes in order to deserve “being made.”

        Conservatives=ever the elitists

      • indypendent

        Paula – what big fat radio guy are you referring to – Rush?

        I didn’t think he came from a political family.

      • indypendent

        Or are you thinking of Michael Reagan?

      • Rush Limbaugh–his family has political ties in the State of Missouri going back a couple of generations. This from wikipedia:

        The Limbaugh family is a prominent family from Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Its members have served prominently as attorneys, judges and political commentators both in the Missouri area and on a national scale.
        First generation:
        Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Sr. (1891–1996), American jurist, legislator and ambassador.
        Second generation:
        Stephen Nathaniel Limbaugh, Sr., (b. 1927), a retired United States District Court judge.
        Rush Hudson Limbaugh, Jr. (1918–1990), attorney and orator
        Third generation:
        (Son of Stephen Sr.) Stephen N. Limbaugh Jr., (b. 1952), current United States District Court judge and former justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri.
        (Sons of Rush Limbaugh, Jr.) Rush Hudson Limbaugh III (b. 1951), American political commentator and host of The Rush Limbaugh Show.
        David Limbaugh (b. 1952), American political commentator and author

    • Me thinks the big fat radio guy may have bitten off more than he can chew.

      My hope is that Oprah takes care of him very silently, very quickly, without much ado. He certainly doesn’t deserve media attention!

      • indypendent

        I keep thinking that same thing about the big fat radio guy but each time, he bounces right back.

        But Oprah does have alot of clout. And I don’t think she was particularly a fan of his – do you?

      • Maybe the way she will “take care of him” is by ignoring him completely! Then he will be arguing with himself! Think anyone will notice if he goes UNnoticed?

        There truly are people (including some bloggers!) who shouldn’t be dignified with a response!

  4. tosmarttobegop

    It is an issue that will not have a simple or painless answer, penance is not letting the pendulum swing it the other direction of the extreme. Otherwise saying to give an advantage to someone simply because of the color of their skin.

    I have seen it at Wal-Mart, my friend who as it happened is Black was given allowances that others were not given. Not expected to work compare to others expected to work harder. Physical conflict is without exception is terminating offense for both combatants. No matter who started it or even in self defense.

    Yet he was not terminated when he open handed punched a fellow associate whom he had been insulting the associates girlfriend till finally the associate told him he needed to stop. The only saving grace was that we informed the corporate that if they did fire the associate and not my friend we would all resign.

    The way that Wal-Mart handled my friend did a disservice to him, belittling him to the point his employment was the same as if they were simply paying him to stay home so they could on paper claim they had a Black male employed at the store.

    I have said he is someone I consider a friend, as such I spoke truth to him as only a true friend does.
    Upfront and honestly about the issue, he was not aware that his own brother had told them that Fred could not read. He could and he was upset at his brother for having painted him as ignorant.
    Fred had been confused about why they seemed to treat him as if he was retarded.

    As human nature can be he did at times take advantage of the situation but did not want to be a token.
    His job performance improved and he became a value to himself and the shift. Beyond simply being the black check mark on the annual report.

    It is the dark side of what could be called “reverse racism”.
    The advantage not being a equal playing field but their only value being seen as the color of their skin.

    • indypendent

      You brought up a good point – about being the token minority in a workplace.

      I remember working as the Manager’s secretary for a natural gas pipeline company in 1978. I worked in the regional office and we managed 13 local offices. This was at the height of the Affirmative Action being implemented for our company and I was told to never label employees as white, black, hispanic, etc.

      I was given a number code to use. I remember the day my boss, the Regional Manager, was told that the female Alaskan Eskimo had turned in her resignation. I watched as my boss pleaded with her on the phone to not quit and the final result was that she would only have to paint the pipeline at her local office. She did not have to do what the other guys had to do – the maintenance and grunt work – she only had to paint the pipeline to keep them looking nice.

      When she agreed to this arrangement, my boss said that the only reason he did it was to get those extra points because how many times do you get a female Alaskan Eskimo working for your company.

      With our work being in natural gas and we were heavily regulated by the government, every little advantage we could get as being seen as good, was used to its fullest.

      But, in reality, what happened with this female worker was in no way fair to the other guys who worked their butts off for the same pay.

      That was not right – but this was in 1978 and I think Affirmative Action might have been good intentioned – there were some instances of downright unfair treatment being doled out.

  5. indypendent

    When I saw the thread picture, I just assumed that was from the 50’s or 60’s. But then I read the caption at the bottom of the thread and it happened in 1981.

    My youngest was only 1yrs old at that time.

    Whenever I hear about the civil rights movement, my mind always takes me back to the 60’s when Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act (I was only a kid then).

    When will our country learn from our ugly past? As I say that, I am thinking about those right-wingers who accuse Obama of going around the world and apologizing for what America has done. America has NOT always done the right thing. And doesn’t it take a wise man to learn from his past mistakes?

    Maybe this is another one of those times where right-wingers think they have nothing to apologize for and that is why they are pushing this reverse racism idea?

  6. tosmarttobegop

    I am sensing a bit of “white guilt” in the reasoning Will?

    Yes for over a century from slavery to making others second class citizens.
    But it makes no more sense to feel that way then when I countered a question of didn’t I feel guilty for what my people had done to his people. With my great grandmother was raped by a Black man a hundred years ago don’t you feel guilty about that?

    How a minority has been treated years or centuries ago is not due guilt it is due to make sure it never happens again today. You can not change the past you can only change how you act today.

    I have hope, the little town I lived in while in Oklahoma up until a couple of years before I moved there.
    Still had their “sunset sign” at the edge of town, it said and I am quoting exactly:

    “Nigger don’t let the sun set on your back in this town!”.

    It was a great concern for me when ever I saw any Blacks in town not because of them but because of the town people. I knew if anything happened I would be siding with the black person.

    Then a Black family moved just outside of town, they had children ranging from kindergarten to high school aged.

    The difference between how the generations treated them was inspiring.
    The young accepted the children and it was common to see both the white and the black teens riding their horses around town. Quite a change from that sign being up at the edge of town some years before!

    That is the real compensation for the racism and slavery not guilt or making someone have an advantage because of their skin color. We do not need to be guilty we just need to recognize that without the contributions of the slaves and the Black race. This country would not have survived or prospered.

    That the blood, sweat and tears shed by them made America what it became.

    • WSClark

      No white guilt here – just frustration and anger when I hear someone claim that racism no longer exists in America.

      I never even went to school with a black person until I went to college, despite the fact that I grew up on the border (literally) of Detroit.

      My a-parents were covert racists, using terms like “colored boy” to refer to an adult, black man.

      My first American immigrant ancestors owned slaves. There are graves of confederate officers in my family cemetery back in Kentucky.

      There is another cemetery across the lane from the Johnson Family cemetery.

      It’s for the black folk of Knox County.

  7. This is what I know:

    I have a very good friend that is black and she works with me, so we make around the same salary. She also works a second job. But she can’t get a mortgage with a decent interest rate. And some mortgage companies won’t even deal with her at all.

    We work in an exclusive shopping district. She shops year round for Christmas and birthdays, ever watchful of the sales to get affordable deals. But she is often followed in those stores and I am not. She spends money in them; I don’t ever.

    I have gone to lunch with her at places where I have received good service and when we went together, the service was inexplicably poor. She leaves good tips, as do I.

    At work, she is forced to take “communication” classes and grammar classes because she speaks with some African American dialect. She is extremely knowledgable in the field in which she works, but she can’t get ahead. Instead, she has been targeted.

    I know that white people think that just because there are laws against it, racism is a dead issue. I know that sometimes we experience a situation or two in which someone has bent over backwards, unfairly so, in order to avoid being accused of racism. I also know that many people don’t have the first clue what it is like to be followed for no reason in stores, followed for no reason by police, pulled over and questioned for no reason by police or not getting the house they were trying to rent, even though they qualified for it.

    Racism is still built in to our institutions. It is quietly acknowledged, if not accepted. You have each seen at least one instance where you know that someone didn’t get the job, didn’t get the house, didn’t make the cut or what have you, because they were not the right color.

    A few laws don’t overturn built-in institutional racism or sexism. It takes an overt societal rejection of the practice; action when faced with it, from all sides. We haven’t gotten there yet. We may never.

    If you had to spend a full day in darker skin, you would KNOW, not just in your intellectual mind, but in your very heart, that true equality has yet to be achieved and the fight is ongoing.

  8. indypendent

    I agree with toosmart that the past cannot be changed. So the best way to reconcile our past and racism is to strive to make our country as equal as it can be.

    But racism is an ugly cancer and does not kill easily.

    But one thing I do know – the racheting up of fear and hatred by the 24/7 talk radio is not good for anyone. That much negativity is bad but it also gives fertile soil for racism cancer to spread.

    • indypendent

      And sad to say, I think it is not only racism that is being fed – it is also a type of religious racism.

      We’ve all heard it before – the Religious Right Conservative Republicans all claim to have the one and only true God – no other religions need apply.

  9. indypendent

    Here’s a thought – where are the pictures of white men being lynched?

    Of course, that brings up the memory of seeing the media coverage of Matthew Shephard’s murder.

    Matthew was a white man and he was killed simply because he was gay. Isn’t this just another ugly form of racism?

    Until our country embraces the idea that we all tend to recite by our Founding Fathers whenever the mood strikes us to be patriotic, that all men are created equal, we will forever be plagued by the effects of some form of racism.

    But then those Founding Fathers excluded the blacks and women when they wrote those infamous words – all men are created equal.

    It’s a vicious circle.

  10. tosmarttobegop

    I do say that racism is a natural condition, a part of our baser instinct different always mean danger.

    The different tribe, the different color of people we even carried different banners and wore different outfits to set us a part in battle.

    IN the attempt to survive in the world it was always us against them for food and land.
    It is one of the hardest things about evolving pass the baser instinct of the species.

    It is why you so often hear that claim that Mexicans are taking American jobs.

    My dad every time he heard someone blaming all the foreigner for what is wrong in the United States.

    He would tell them he wished all YOU foreigners would go back to where ever you can from.

    SO we can get the good land back!

    It is easy to hate or distrust someone you do not know or understand.

    At one time I hated Vietnamese until I had to spend some time with one.
    We finally talked and I learned that what I thought and believed was not the case.

    Perhaps that is what was the most troubling about 9-11, those terrorists had not simply gotten off a overseas flight and boarded the flights that they high jacked and flew into the buildings.

    They had lived among us, went to our restaurants and interacted with Americans.

    They were not ignorant of who we are and how we are but still were able to carry out the attacks!

  11. Being European, I cannot speak for what is the greater problem in the US. However, it is clear that there is a considerably reverse racism—and that this too is a problem.

    As for leveling the playing field, I am all for it, as long as we talk about equal opportunities (e.g. wrt quality of schooling, employment interviews that do not take skin color into consideration, and similar). The problem with affirmative action is that it instead focuses on equality of outcome—which is something completely different.

  12. tosmarttobegop

    Based on my first experiences with Black I should have a total hatred and distrust for them.
    It was not until Jr. High that I interacted with them the Elementary I attended finally got two black kids.
    But they were in first grade while I was in the sixth grade and I never even saw them.

    From the first day of seventh grade I had Blacks picking on me and finally robbing me every other day.
    The perhaps saving grace was Gregory Lewis, he seem to befriend me and would warn me of race fights that were going to happen after school.

    Otherwise the rest of my experiences with Blacks were negative I had found them too loud and violent.
    But it was the passage of time and other encounter with individuals who were Black that taught me that no one race is like another portrays.

  13. indypendent

    While we are discussing racism, there is such a thing as black racism. I’ve seen some blacks be just as racist against whites as the whites are against the blacks.

    But isn’t that found in each segment of our society? There is always some group that hates the other group simply for ‘existing’.

    Maybe toosmart is correct when he said racism is a natural condition. We are by nature afraid of anyone different than ourselves and naturally ready to fight to defend ourselves.

    But when talking about racism and slavery – that is two different issues. Slavery in the south was not only about racism, it was about the way white men made their fortunes. Blacks were seen as property and a means by which to get richer.

    A wise plantation owner in the South would know they needed to treat their slaves as well as they could – by keeping them fed and healthy – in order to make more profit. Then there were other not-so-wise plantation owners that took seemed to take delightin being cruel. But don’t we see that same thinking today in the business world?

    Some companies treat their employees very well – while others treat their employees appalling.

    I’m not trying to make excuses for slavery. I am just trying to put it into context. Even our Founding Fathers had a hard time getting the states to become unified on the issue of slavery.

    The southern states wanted to keep slavery and the northern states did not want it. But in the end, the southern states won out because the cause of independence at that time was of more importance than slavery. The northern states knew that independence from England would never be won without the unity of all the states – and so they needed the southern states.

    And here we are in 2010 and the issues of racism are still alive and kicking.

    I keep hoping that the younger generation will someday wipe out racism. But if there are not enough jobs and people are scrambling just to survive – won’t there be the politics there to keep all the various groups fighting?

  14. indypendent

    I just listened to Rush Limbaugh for a few minutes and he was talking about how Bill Clinton gave Sen. Byrd a pass for having a fleeting flirtation with the KKK. I guess Bill Clinton made a comment at Byrd’s memorial service how Byrd had to be a part of the KKK in his state to get elected?

    I haven’t read anything about this Bill Clinton scenario that Rush was referring to (and I’m not even sure if it really happened of if Rush is trying to make an impotent point).

    Anyway, of course Rush tied it into the those evil liberals are always ready to give someone that has helped them pass their evil health care a pass on being in the KKK.

    Rush’s theory went like this – Byrd knew that he was going to be in the Senate someday in order to pass Obamacare, so he he had to be in the KKK in order to get elected, in order to help the first black president to bring health care to all Americans.

    But what I never heard Rush say at time was the fact that Sen. Byrd renounced the KKK.

    But then that statement would have not made for a good theory conspiracy – now would it?

  15. anonymous

    This topic is just one minute category within the histogram of the human race.
    People eternally hate. End of discusion.

    ad nauseum

    Now go out and enjoy your life.

    • Hello anonymous. Welcome to PPPs.

      True that this is one part of the human race. A very complicated species. 😉

      I disagree that people eternally hate. Maybe some do. I hope those who do get past it, find understanding, because it would bring such sadness to the life of a person who hated. I’ve found that honest, open discussions can sometimes address fears that may contribute to ill will.