Does Reverse Racism Exist?

Academics and activists (if there is any difference between them today) claim that racism is a unidirectional relationship through which whites oppress blacks. For example, the leftist Anti-Defamation League defines racism as “A combination of systems, institutions and factors that advantage white people and for people of color, cause widespread harm and disadvantages in access and opportunity.”

North American discussions of racism take little notice of the many historical examples in which people of color conquer, murder, and enslave white populations, such as the Mongol conquests of the Middle East and Russia, the Turkish conquests and enslavement of the Balkans, and the slave raiding in Europe by North African “Moors,” all of which caused “widespread harm and disadvantages in access and opportunity.” Nor do they consider the black-on-black enslavement common in West Africa.

And would you have not thought that the Anti-Defamation League would remember the National Socialist (Nazi) characterization of Jews as an inferior race, and the genocidal Holocaust they launched to murder all Jews. Now with whites seen as evil in North America—about which more below—Jews are seen as hyper-whites.

Some definitions of racism are more general and comprehensive:

These definitions indicate that, in principle, racism could be multidirectional, between various races, and not limited to one race oppressing all others, and, as such, are concordant with the historical examples presented above.

Academics and social justice advocates want to ensure that we see racism as unidirectional, from whites to blacks exclusively. To do this, they have unilaterally redefined racism to mean not just discrimination, but discrimination plus power. According to Lynne Lyman, a justice advocate and former California state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, “My practice and knowledge is that racism is the combination of two things: Discrimination plus power over.” Lyman continues, “Where a lot of white people get caught up and confused is that they may have felt discriminated against … but it’s very different from racism when you don’t have the power. [Racism] can only come from the most dominant group.”

Worku Nida, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside, says that “Racism is a mechanism where resources and unfortunately power, wealth, prestige and even humanity are distributed along a color line.” Nida explains that “Systemic and structural racism is rooted in institutions, actions and policies that allow certain groups of people to (advance) while preventing other people from having access to resources. This works through the court system, congress, presidency, through all levels of structures of government, in business, in education — you name it.”

This tendentious definition of racism as discrimination plus power is meant to debunk claims by whites of “reverse-racism”: “The term ‘reverse racism,’ according to experts on the subject like Lyman and Nida, is a mythological ideology that stems from discourse and propaganda on anti-Blackness.”

The idea of reverse racism arose, again according to Assistant Professor Nida, in response to affirmative action: “Some white folks brought up the analogy of reverse racism. It’s a social lie, it doesn’t exist, says Nida. (Because) if we’re talking about dismantling systemic racism, we’re talking about white supremacy and white racism. People who are benefiting from (those concepts) are not going to be happy with changes that affect the status quo.”

Lyman compared the idea of reverse racism to that of reverse sexism. “Sexism, which by definition cannot be experienced by cisgender men because they have, historically and undeniably, been in positions of power over women.”

Let us test this rejection of reverse racism and sexism through the definition of the two as discrimination plus power. If anti-white racism and anti-male sexism exist, they must, according to the definition, be perpetrated by those who hold power. Who holds power in North America?

The answer is that power is held by elite members of many races and sexes, namely our political, media, educational, and business elites. Assistant Professor Nida is correct in saying that racism and sexism, in this case reverse racism and reverse sexism, are “rooted in institutions, actions and policies that allow certain groups of people to (advance) while preventing other people from having access to resources. This works through the court system, congress, presidency, through all levels of structures of government, in business, in education.”

Let us begin our review with the national governments of the U.S. and Canada. President Lyndon Johnson’s Executive Order 11246 “required contractors with 51 or more employees and contracts of $50,000 or more to implement affirmative action plans to increase the participation of minorities and women in the workplace if a workforce analysis demonstrates their under-representation, meaning that there are fewer minorities and women than would be expected given the numbers of minorities and women qualified to hold the positions available.” In other words, these contractors must give preference to minorities, primarily blacks and women over whites and men, over against merit.

As I have written elsewhere, “The Liberal government of Canada has formulated a new program to which all universities are expected to commit. It is called ‘Dimensions: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.’ A ‘Charter’ for ‘Dimensions’ has been distributed to all university presidents, who are urged to sign, endorsing the program for their universities.” And there are sanctions for non-compliance: blocking of federal funding to universities.

The Dimensions charter makes clear what is required: “To advance institutional equity, diversity and inclusion, specific, measurable and sustainable actions are needed to counter systemic barriers, explicit and unconscious biases, and inequities. This includes addressing obstacles faced by, but not limited to, women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities, members of visible minority or racialized groups, and members of LGBTQ2+ communities.” In other words, whites and males are not “diverse,” and must be excluded.

These diversity, equity, and inclusion directives now replace traditional academic priorities such as achievement, merit, and potential. Justice as individuals receiving their due is replaced by “social justice,” in which certain categories of people are favored and others disfavored. For example, in hiring a physicist, the DEI mandates require that the best and brightest physicist not be hired, unless he or she happens to belong to one or more of the preferred census categories, but only the best among the favored categories, even if he or she is markedly academically inferior.

North American educational elites are entirely onside with this anti-white, anti-male program. Every university has implemented reverse racism and reverse sexism, and most professors teach that this discrimination is “social justice.” If any professor overtly disagrees or does not teach this, the political commissars, called diversity officers, act to suppress his heretical views or to excise him from the university. Student admissions, grant funding, and faculty and administrative hiring are used to implement this program.

All of the major funding agencies—e.g, the NSF and NIH in the U.S. and the SSHRC, NSERC, and CIHR in Canada—enforce the “diversity, equity, and inclusion” criteria. Applications for grants must convince the reviewers that the applicant would advance DEI before the social science, physical science, or medical content is even examined. As one of my science colleagues recently wrote (personal communication), “You may recall that last year I was made infamous by having one of my federal grant proposals rejected on EDI grounds alone. Well it just happened to me again. I submitted this large proposal to fund my group well for 5 years. … The Decision letter once again states that my proposal was not even examined for scientific merit but was rejected on DIE grounds.”

Given the anti-white and anti-male priorities of universities, it is not surprising that across North America, males only represent around 40% of students, while in many universities whites are highly underrepresented.

The rationale for DEI is the replacement of the vision of society as many individuals voluntarily associating and competing in pursuit of their goals with the Marxist vision of society as an oppressor class exploiting a victim class. In this case, the two classes are defined by identity politics rather than economic strata. No longer do individuals count; only census categories count. Whites and males are oppressors; people of color and females are victims.

The argument goes on to say that whites are inherently privileged and unconsciously racist, but beyond that, that “whiteness,” a racial essence, is evil. Whites are condemned for championing logic and the scientific method; they are condemned for thinking that there are correct answers to mathematical questions, for being prompt, and for valuing courtesy; they are condemned for being individualistic, for stressing hard work, and for other heinous crimes. Above all, whites are deemed morally inferior, as a result of their privilege and oppression. These views are diffused in school books, museums, and in teaching, as we can see here, here, here, and here.

Males, as we have been told ad infinitum, are “toxic,” while “females are the future.” According to DEI bureaucracies, males are not “diverse,” and therefore are not part of the preferred “inclusion,” but rather should be excluded.

Anyone who challenges, disagrees with, or even abstains from endorsing DEI, with its requisite anti-white, anti-male program, will be punished by the “social justice” elites in education, business, big tech, and government. Or, as we say now, “canceled.” Anyone arguing for merit-based recruitment and evaluation, for the color-blind treatment of others, or for achievement and excellence is immediately denounced as a racist, and in most cases is sanctioned and often fired by his employer. Even tenured professors are not safe if they explicitly disagree with DEI.

As we have seen, the full weight of the government falls on those who disagree, such as the parents complaining to their school boards about racist indoctrination who were denounced as “domestic terrorists.” The FBI was directed to investigate them by the Department of “Justice.”

The power to shape and guide schooling rests in the educational elite, including educational bureaucrats, school boards, teachers’ unions, and teachers, all trained by radical extremist faculties of education in universities. This elite has the power to endorse anti-male and anti-white “social justice” ideology, and to force it down the throats of school children. Could you really imagine that teachers were haranguing seven-year-old white children about being born evil, and telling little black children that they are life-long victims? Well, it is happening across North America. In Canada, children are taught that they murdered natives and are “colonial settlers” on someone else’s land.

The elites in Hollywood, media, big tech, and business have aligned themselves with racist and sexist “social justice.” So too have professional associations of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and more. Everyone with power in North America is actively enforcing reverse racism and sexism.

If racism is discrimination plus power, then it is clear that our multi-racial elites are fomenting the dominant institutional culture of anti-white racism and anti-male sexism. Hadn’t we all agreed that racism and sexism were bad and should be avoided, and that people should be treated as individuals and not as members of census categories? If ensuring the rights and fair treatment of minorities is desirable, what is desirable about vilifying and marginalizing the male half of humanity and the white supermajority of American and Canadian citizens?


Image: Unsplash, Public Domain

Philip Carl Salzman

Philip Carl Salzman is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at McGill University, Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and President of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

5 thoughts on “Does Reverse Racism Exist?

  1. Does reverse racism exist? Ask the Duke Lacrosse Three. It’s not really “reverse racism”, just racism.

  2. People are reluctant to say it out loud—particularly in today’s political climate—but affirmative action programs are nothing but government sanctioned racism against people with white skin. And this has been going on for five decades now. The only change is what used to be called affirmative action is now called a diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) program.

    Ask all of the people who didn’t get that job, or NSF research grant, or business contract because an affirmative action program said sorry, but you have the wrong skin color. Ask them if they have “white privilege”. No, there is no white privilege. But there sure is such a thing as under-represented minority privilege. It’s called a DEI program and they are both numerous and everywhere.

  3. In New England prior to 1855 the town minister was a public employee, re-hired or not by an annual vote of the town meeting — where only men could vote.

    The women met after church and decided how their husbands would vote. And as this was a public vote, the men did.

    So who REALLY held power?

    And who really holds power in academia today? Whom can you not offend?

  4. When my brother was brutally beaten for the crime of being white while in a public park what that reverse racism or was he experiencing his white privilege?
    When my black teammates, out of sight of the coach, took turns smacking me in the back of a van while saying “you’re afraid to smack that white boy” to the others was I a victim of black racism or was it just performance art?
    At the corner of Truthophobia and Dishonest, the only reason people move to safer environments for their children–that’s what I did–it just has to be because of racism.
    At the intersection of Woke and Hate, any unequal outcome has to be irrefutable evidence of systemic discrimination.

  5. About 40 years ago I did a stint in state prison in a white dominated state yet a blacks dominated prison and wow was I in for some lessons. I had and to this day have never seen such racist crap out of blacks and it was an every day commonality. Their supremacist attitude and “I didn do nuffin” was the norm. “Da man he be puttin me down” and their crime? The color of their skin was both their curse and their excuse. Everything I learned of blacks was it’s all about the color of their skin whereas I a white mutt had no such excuse. I did a serious crime, got caught and paid the price yet blacks all around me for years their only crime was the color of their skin.

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