Reversing reverse racism

Ariel Castro-Martinez questions the notion of reverse racism

Never mind the finger-wagging nonsense and commodification of neighbourly pensioner ire that characterises current affairs programs, the stupidest and most dangerous things these shows do is perpetuate the phrase ‘reverse racism’. This is, quite possibly, the most racist thing I’ve ever heard.

This is what reverse racism is, according to Today Tonight and its high-horsed brethren: it’s the racial discrimination of the majority by the minority when, for example, an Indian-owned pizza place fails to hire anyone outside of their ethnic group. The problem with ‘reverse racism’ is that it’s redundant; there already exists a word for this type of behaviour. It’s called racism.

Reverse racism implies that there is somehow something absurd about racism against white Australians—it’s not just racism, but it’s backwards racism—because everyone knows that racism is unidirectional, and racism in the opposite direction fails to appreciate the suppressed superiority of the majority over the minority.

This attitude of proper and reverse racism reminds us of the traditional directional history of racism in this country, but does us no favours in knowing that all racism is wrong, no matter how entrenched one side is over the other.

Denoting an act of racism as ‘reverse racist’ betrays an implicit status quo; it’s not so much that we know we’re not above minorities, rather, we’ve simply been conditioned to not act out on it. In this respect, we’re only halfway cured.

When minorities are racist, we find it bizarre, because we can’t imagine how they could possibly feel better than us.

Reverse racism sounds like those Indians in the pizza place just aren’t doing it right; they should choose a more suitable ethnic group to exclude. It’s really an admission of fault, claiming others are reverse racist while the entrenched majority remain purely racist.

If a man claimed reverse sexism from an employer only hiring women, he would be rightfully ridiculed for thinking that sexism is an activity reserved for men, which actually … seems kind of sexist.

The language of reverse racism is as divisive as the behaviour it’s trying to address. It shifts the discussion away from what is wrong to what is ‘fair’. It implies that we’ve stopped being racist because it’s unfair, because we have the numbers, not because it’s wrong.

The minority are being ‘reverse racist’ because they have no justification to be racist. However, in reality, there is no gradient of justification upon which racism is directed. It is, no matter where it’s coming from, universally absurd.

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