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The Daily Tar Heel

Reverse racism is a phrase often used to connote discrimination aimed at the dominant racial group in a given area to benefit historically disadvantaged groups.

In the United States, the phrase ‘reverse racism’ is used as a tool to challenge the legitimacy and fairness of not only African-American thought, word and deed, but also that of other racial minorities including Latinos, Asians and Asian Americans and Native Americans. This term is often used to undermine the arguments of racial minorities, and it aims to paint those arguments as extreme, radical or untrue.

This buzzword ‘reverse racism’ has been overused and overdone.
A simple mention of race is sometimes all it takes for a person of color to be pegged as a ‘reverse racist,’ but partaking in the discussion of race, institutionalized racial discrimination or affirmative action does not make one a ‘reverse racist.’

There are initiatives to combat institutionalized disadvantages that have been cemented in our nation’s history by racialized legislation that kept social, educational and economic opportunity out of reach for many people of color (and arguably still does). Mere support of these initiatives doesn’t make one a ‘reverse racist.’

Challenging a broken system of racial profiling and incarceration — like New York City’s Stop-and-Frisk policy that unfairly targets the city’s African-American men — does not produce ‘reverse racism.’

Being sympathetic to the plight of Latinos in Alamance County, N.C., who have fallen victim to the local sheriff’s office’s supposed witch hunt for illegal immigrants, doesn’t create ‘reverse racists.’

After all, there has been no triumph for any marginalized racial group without the combined efforts of other racial groups. The emancipation of slaves in the South, the movement for civil rights and the implication of affirmative action were all joint ventures by members of various races to make American society more inclusive for everyone.

This is not to say that discrimination against whites doesn’t exist on this campus, in this state or in the darker moments of this great nation. It is to say that we must choose our words carefully because, the fact is, what is usually referred to as ‘reverse racism’ actually isn’t racism at all.

Racism is defined as the belief that with racial difference comes an absolute determination of one’s ability to succeed. Racism is characterized by intolerance and infers concepts of inferiority based on the color of one’s skin.

That term is very different from discrimination. Discrimination can happen to anyone of any color, gender, socioeconomic class or sexual orientation, and it can happen for any reason.

The attempt to label people of color using the word ‘racist’ is a shameful one. It’s a scare tactic used to coerce people who confront the systematic disadvantages that afflict people of color into accepting the status quo.

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