First of all let me say I love your articles. While this response may seem like a pushback it is mainly meant as a supplementary perspective on racism. We all have to write based on our own starting point.
Being white, I have been told as long as I am remember that we are basically racist simply by being white. I have simply stopped caring. I think it is very different for you being called racist, because being brown it is a novelty to you. You are in a safespace. For whites there is seldom much to learn or cause for introspection because you hear people make those accusations so often. It is all just lost in the noise.
Instead I have come to make some clear distinctions between different forms of racism. Not all racism is equally problematic to society. Yes you left out some African countries, but do you genuinely think black people are lesser than you genetically speaking? Do you really think they don’t have the same potential as you? I doubt it.
This is different from when I speak to white suprematcists or those who call themselves “race realists,” frequently Trump supporters or white American conservatives. In their opinion the fact that African-Americans are poorer or commit more crimes in the US today, isn’t merely a temporary state caused by racism and pushed to the margins of society by institutionalized racism and the legacy of slavery, segregation, red-lining and a multitude of other racist policies explicit or implicit. No, in their mind these difference exist primarily due to genetic inferiority to whites. Meaning in their racist minds, spending resources on lowering inequality and raising minorities up is a waste of resources. In their view western society accepting immigrants and refugees who are brown or black are dooming themselves to decline. Intelligence level will decline and crime will grow out of control.
This is an area where I see a crucial difference between myself and what I deem the real racists. I may have prejudice against certain groups of people. But in so far as I am distrustful of them, it is only cultural. Call me a culturalists if you like. I don’t think every culture is equal. However I don’t think any of it is genetic. I think anyone regardless of skincolor is pretty much the same. The differences that exist among us, exist for cultural reasons, and culture can change.
Unforunately this perspective is not always easy to stand by, because it is so frequently abused. In Norway we have a group called SIAN, which claims they are only against Islam. I am also against Islam. In fact I am against every single religion. However for SIAN this is just a cover to express racism against muslims. They don’t see any difference between how people look and their religion. If all SIAN was against was Islam then what they would have argue for was that muslims stopped being muslim or moderated their religion. However that is not what SIAN wants. They want to kick out all muslims from Norway. They are clearly a racist organization but they hide behind “criticism of religion.”
Hence my culturalism can be “solved” by successfully integrating minorities into Norwegian society. But to a real racist that can never work. It is the DNA inside the bodies of the minorities which is the problem. It is the wrong DNA in their mind, and hence they must be kicked out of the country.
Should Whites Feel Uncomfortable?
While obviously there is a different power dynamic, you are being racist if you hold everybody of a specific skinn color accountable for a crime and demand that they feel guilty.
If it feels uncomfortable, if it feels too angry, then good. White people should feel uncomfortable. After centuries of slavery, colonialism, and discrimination people have every right to be angry. We’re lucky that the oppressed only want equality and not revenge.
Sure you have a right to be angry, but you have no right to be angry at me specifically, just because I share skin color with people that have oppressed others. Yes I know whites are in a special position having dominated the world for hundreds of years and having invented scientific racism.
What that does is that it gives those of us who look white an obligation to listen and understand before we point fingers and judge people looking different from us. We have an obligation to understand the history that put us on top of the world by exploiting others, before we judge anymore for the problems they currently face.
However what I will reject is some sort of Christian notion of original sin. That somehow by being born with white skin, I carry the sin or racism ever commited by someone who looked white. I don’t owe anybody anything just because my DNA makes me look white.
So the least white people can do is listen, without being snowflakes, talking about ‘not all white people’ or ‘you won’t get anywhere with that tone’. That’s just being defensive. I know because I’m the same way. At some point, we have to just grow up.
I personally don’t care what you call me. As I said. I am beyond that. I find it more fruitful to work against racism than to spend energy trying to “prove” that I am not racist. Nobody can really prove that. It is waste of effort.
Yet this statement still needs a comment, not because it matters to me personally but because it matters to the cause. If you want to win over white people to actually help minorities, you are not really making the job any easier by being too eager to label them racist.
I debate white racists on a regular basis and I very rarely call them racist, because I now it derails the whole discussion. I don’t gain anything from it. I do however on occasion ask them why they object to the “racist” label given that they seem to acknowledge that they think one race is better than another.
Racism Against Whites
Rhetoric such as all whites are racist and whites should all feel bad is really counter productive. It really feeds white fear, which is not entirely unwarranted.
Whites also experience racism even if people claim racism against whites is impossible. That is of course absolutely bonkers to claim. Racism between different white groups have existed for centuries. English towards the Irish. European Jews e.g. are 99% of European origin, and not from Israel. Hence in principle they are white. They look white, and in principle could benefit from “white privilege.” Yet one of the worst racist regimes in all of history, Nazi Germany committed the bulk of their horrors against Jews.
The Nazis where also extremely racist against Slavic people such as Poles and Russians. Their plan was extermination and enslavement of Slavs.
In Norway we have an indigenous people called Sami, which have faced discrimination and racism for a long time. To you they would look like a stereotypical white person. They can have blonde hair and blue eyes. Their whiteness does not make them immune to racism.
My question is, should Sami people feel uncomfortable about past colonization by people with the same skin color as themselves?
Yes racism from or towards whites is different because whites are usually part of the dominating power structures. Our racism means you may not get a job, or don’t get treated well in the justice system.
But it does not mean that we cannot experience other forms of racism. When we travel to many pour countries we typically be regarded as a walking money bag which can be cheated, robbed or screwed over in some way. We are told that if we drive a car in Africa and hit somebody by accident, we better just drive on as fast as possible and leave the guy bleeding because we will not receive any justice. Either we will get beat up, robbed or face trumped up charges. In those cases it is racism that actually hits back on non-whites.
I had a friend who had worked with many Africans in Israel. He visisted America and went to a black neighborhood thinking that was fine. Of course he was unware of the toxic relationship between whites and blacks in America. He was attacked almost immediately and thrown up against the wall. They yelled “Get your ass out of here white boy!”
In my native Norway many native Norwegians get robbed by immigrant gangs or beat up. I don’t want to exaggurate it because I live in a multicultural neighborhood and I have been fine. But I know other people who have not had very pleasant experiences.
We can see the stories from South Africa about the plight of many white there. It is a toxic topic, because it is something that white supremacists love to exploit for their propaganda. However that does not mean that it isn’t real. White boer kids get attacked by stones from other kids, who scream “death to the Boer.” You got poor white Boers who basically have to flee or get killed. They get no support from government despite being poor, because they are white. And while this is not a problem all across the world, white people can watch this and get afraid. We may control the power structures, but we can still get beat up or raped.
Stuff like that helps drive white racism. Whites who are afraid will vote for any law of policy which will keep them in control. We see that in the US in how laws are made so that whites can carry guns and easily shoot people they are afraid of without facing legal consequences.
My solution is to raise minorities up and integrate them better. People who are successful and have opportunities are less likely to commit crimes. What I don’t think is fruitful is to treat this problem as if it is only prejudice going on in the heads of white with no good reason what so ever. I don’t buy the whole “let us all just hug each other” shtick.