Acknowledging Different Styles of Racism

Racism exists among all people, but as a white person I think it is fair of me to acknowledge that people with the same skin color as me has played a rather unique role in the history of racism. For almost 400 years Europeans have dominated the world, having invaded, colonized and surpressed people. Being the inventors of modern science we also came up with the concept of scientific racism putting ourselves on the top of the racial pyramids.

Although I don’t take personal responsibility for this, I must acknowledge that my forefathers devised a system benefitting people looking like me.

There is also the question of context. The debates we are having here online are, let us face it, primarily happening in the context of western society, meaning Europe and North America. In these places people who look white are typically the majority which are in power and who have the primary privileges. People looking different from us are in a minority and are disadvantaged.

Because we control the institutions of power, our racism affect the ability of visible minorities to get jobs, get protected by the police, get representation in the political system etc.

However this does not mean we cannot be subject to racism. It just affects us in a different way. Minorities e.g. may specifically attack us because we look white. We are often the privileged hated oppressor. Others may not view you has intellectually inferior for being white. Racism against whites is more about viewing us as morally inferior. We are simply more evil and more racist by simply having white skin.

Just like people of color have to be careful around cops, who will beat them up for no good reason, you got to be vigelant as a white person in certain minority areas and situations. If this wasn’t a real thing then you would not be getting warnings from members of the same minority group to watch out. I am not stating this to self victimize. I have had far more benefits from being white than downsides. Yet it must be acknowledged. Because trying to paper over this fact will just increase racism. Attempts at fighting racism by papering over the ethnic background of crime suspects has IMHO backfired.

I understand that when you emphasize the ethnic background of a suspect in the news you are also playing into the hands of racists who will use such information to claim “Look this is how all of them are.”

But when you paper over it, you create conspiracy theories on the right claiming that the liberal media is fake and covering up what minorities do. It is a hard fight to win. I don’t have the answers. But I can come with a suggestion for a direction.

White people don’t think everybody who is white is a criminal if they see whites do crimes in media. Why? Because they are around white people all the time and see that most whites are not criminals. That is different when relating to a minority you know little to nothing about. I have seen stories of people who where racist against people they had never personally met, only read about. As soon as they get someone of that minority as a colleague at work, many often change their opinion.

Thus I think the solution isn’t really to try to paper over the minorites are often overrepresented in crime, but instead provide a more nuanced picture by presenting more stories and articles of minorities doing something positive or simply living normal lives. If the only thing you ever learn about a group of people is when they do something wrong, then is it strange that you develop prejudice?

Written by

Geek dad, living in Oslo, Norway with passion for UX, Julia programming, science, teaching, reading and writing.

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