Racism comes out of a history of oppression


This is a response to Anthony Khoo’s Nov. 13 letter. Teasing “white girls” about their fashion sense is not racism, and here’s why:

Identity-based comments have an historical context that we cannot ignore. White people have not suffered the same race-based violence, oppression and discrimination that black Americans and other minorities have faced and continue to face. For this reason, you cannot take a statement written about whites and call it racism simply because it would be a racist comment if the word “black” were substituted. Doing so assumes that these terms are interchangeable, that black and white are equal.

And that’s not true.

Furthermore, I take issue with the “fallout” Khoo describes if the comment were directed at another race. Racism resides in the foundations and struts of our institutions. Racist comments against those who have faced oppression happen everywhere, every day. But I haven’t seen cars overturned and burned or people “pelted” with Molotov cocktails as a result.

Why assume a racist remark against whites results in Khoo’s scathing letter, but a racist remark against another race results in such violence?

Is it because Khoo assumes other races are more violent?

Or is it because his privilege blinds him to the reality of racism in our country? It happens to people of color all the time. It is insidious and systemic. And there aren’t enough pages in all the opinion columns in all the newspapers in the entire country to even begin to respond to it.

Natalie Rich
Student Wellness
Program manager

Thanks for reading.

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