Bizzaro racism

23 Aug

After writing my last post about white privilege I figured it was time to talk about the usual, predictable corollary to that discussion. So predictable that I should have pre-empted the (few) criticisms I received but rolling it all into one big white privilege mega post. But, as I promised when I wrote that, there would be more. And so, my loving readers (I assume you’re loving, anyway), here’s more.

BUT WHAT ABOUT RACISM AGAINST WHITE PEOPLE????!!!!!!

Yes. What about racism against white people?

The concept of “reverse racism” comes from a social theory that many of us are familiar with: the “bizzaro world” theory. In this theory, an alternative universe exists where everything we know to be true is the opposite. Bizzaro Nora is quiet, demure, blonde and pleasant. Bizzaro computers are boxes with cats inside. Bizzaro lawns are red. Bizzaro bowling occurs in the opposite direction (a slight difference, but important to all who bowl). Bizzaro cars have square tires, and so on.

And thus, the existence of “reverse racism” can be understood. It’s bizzaro racism. Yes, in this world, white folks are not way overrepresented in politics, business and those powerful positions. The vast majority of us have to struggle to find money to eat, work three jobs to get by and see no reflection of people who look like them reading the TV news, being Prime Minister etc.

Bizzaro racism is a thing in the bizzaro world. Just like the other bizzaro oppressions:

  • Bizzaro classism: rich people face daily oppression just because they’re rich. They become socially isolated because of this systemic oppression that they live in elaborate dugouts under the earth’s surface.
  • Bizzaro sexism: the women have taken over and have blocked men from becoming engineers, doctors, scientists. They, on average, make 71 cents for every dollar women make. They spend their days at home, cleaning their kids, making food and watching NASCAR racing.
  • Bizzaro homophobia: This is also called heterophobia. The few people who ‘inter marry’ are maligned. Their children are rejected from daycare. The ones who can’t conceive are blocked from adopting. The gays have taken over and the fabulous have oppressed the drab. There is glitter everywhere.
  • Bizzaro ablism: The escalators only fit wheels. Signs are written in a font that you can’t quite understand. No one wants to hire someone who can’t read braille.
  • Bizzaro transphobia: What? You’ve never lived between genders? You can’t understand people, so you’re effectively unelectable.

etc.

Yes, the bizzaro world looks different than the one we live in. But, it’s not perfect either. Oppressions were reproduced by the formerly oppressed (as happens all too often) and white people are uniting to fight for a more equal society.

In our current existence, in non-bizzaro Canada, reverse classism, reverse ableism and so on don’t exist. They don’t exist because oppressions are a function of power. Racism is a social construct that intends to maintain the power of one group of people over other groups of people using race as a differentiator. When people fight against racism, they fight against a system that overtly (think the “neutral race” argument over the $100 bill) and covertly (think the mass underrepresentation of racialized folks in government and the overpopulation of racialized folks in jail) creates a social hierarchy of race. Incomes are racially segmented. Access to power is racially segmented. This is racism.

This shouldn’t be confused with times where peoples’ feelings can be hurt. Yes, white folks can be treated poorly by other people. They can be called names. They can be bullied. This sucks and shouldn’t happen, but it’s not tied into a broader social oppression. This matters because when an oppression is systemic, the oppressed can see it everywhere and their existence becomes a series of moments where they must challenge these racist (or other -ist) norms, or find a way to cope. When a white man is called a fuckface by someone who intends to denigrate him and hurt his feelings, that’s called harassment or abuse or someone being an asshole. It’s not reverse racism.

We should condemn people being assholes, generally, but we should never call a situation where someone’s being an asshole reverse racism. Until reverse classism means that there’s shame associated with being rich, or reverse homophobia means there’s shame in being heterosexual, there’s no such thing as reverse racism.

And, someday, when anti-racist activists have convinced the masses to rid our system of privilege offered to white people based on race, we’ll have a nation that will value and treat everyone in a way that is more equal.

It won’t resemble all of bizzaro world, hopefully. One oppression won’t be replaced by another oppression.

And I won’t have to be demure.

8 Responses to “Bizzaro racism”

  1. Ethan Cox August 24, 2012 at 2:51 am #

    Great article! One somewhat tangential point: interestingly enough, bizarro classism is actually how human society was organized for most of our history. Those who hoarded and were greedy were socially stigmatized and shunned for their greed. The celebration of the profoundly anti-social impulse to take more than you need, and in so doing deprive your fellows, is a very new phenomenon which falsely seeks to pass itself off as some form of human nature.

    • Nora Loreto August 24, 2012 at 3:33 am #

      Good reminder that these things do change, and can change if we work together.

  2. Required January 11, 2013 at 3:07 am #

    So, suddenly, you can only be racist if you are in a position of power?

    • Nora Loreto January 11, 2013 at 3:13 am #

      If by “suddenly” you mean “always” then, yes. That’s what racism is. Otherwise, it’s harassment, bullying etc.

      • Required January 11, 2013 at 3:49 am #

        Okay, you can’t just change a definition. Racism will always mean: “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races” (or something along those lines).

        You can argue whites will probably never experience racism at the same levels as blacks have/do, but definitions are definitions.

  3. K. January 11, 2013 at 5:01 am #

    Your definition of racism applies only to institutions and systems and aggregate outcomes. But I submit that under common usage the word ‘racist’ can also be applied to individuals and their actions, words and beliefs. Anti-white racism, however impotent, can and does exist.

  4. R. April 16, 2013 at 1:11 am #

    applying non specific generalizations to a person because of skin color is not right. a lot of the ‘white man’ you rant about had nothing, and never will have anything, to do with any of the untoward things done in this country involving the First Nations.

    The fact you are promoting hatred knowing that it fuels resentment and builds animosity toward whites in general is bizarro(that is your term for BS is it not). White people are not leaving anytime soon and hating because of skin color IS racist.

    I support your choice to voice your opinion 110% but I strongly oppose the propagation of hatred in it. Alienating a silent majority that support First Nations and had nothing to do with the last hundred odd years of crimes committed automatically aligns them with the State.

    • Nora Loreto April 16, 2013 at 2:40 am #

      This debate is more nuanced than the blunt object that you’re wielding to influence it. Demanding that us whites “check our privilege” which means to look critically at the benefits bestowed to us individually and systematically *just* because we’re white isn’t at all calling for animosity or resentment toward white individuals. There’s no hatred in what I’ve said. The fact that you’ve seemingly taken this post so personally demonstrates my point: whites are threatened by critiques of white privilege because they stand to lose a lot from undoing white supremacy within Western society. But, please, it is possible for us to rebalance power without calling for hatred against a group of people. I think humanity, at some level, has the capacity to find an equilibrium and stop inflicting suffering on others to further the positions of a few.

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