Does reverse racism exist?

Blacks, Hispanics and other minorities on average have significantly less money and access to good jobs or education*. What is the root cause of this inequality? We can claim that there is some sort of shortcoming with these groups, that they are somehow inferior. Alternatively, we could say that there is a systematic racism which works against these groups. It is the latter that I believe, and will discuss why below.

But first, if we recognize that there is a systematic racism, unfairly constraining every member of these minority groups, we must take that into account when considering someone’s “merit” for college or employment. If we are to have a meritocracy, we must recognize hard work. What you achieve, in this view, is less important than how hard you had to work to achieve it. Where you get is less important than how far you have come.

Affirmative action programs should be designed to recognize when someone has struggled against adversity, including racism. The purpose is not to give preference to minorities, it is to treat everyone equally, by taking into account not only how much someone has achieved, and what obstacles they had to overcome to achieve it.

That, not repayment for past crimes, is my argument for affirmative action. There are, I hasten to add, other arguments. This is one I find compelling, however.

Briefly, why is it that I believe there to be racism in America today? In my limited experience, I find people are quite cognizant of racism based on physiology arguments. Claims of stupidity, laziness, thievery etc. based on biology are usually recognized for what they are: racist. What many people do not see as racist are the very same claims, based upon the culture. Thus the Wall Street Journal can claim “with 30% of Hispanics below the poverty line, it can be argued that we imported a poverty problem as well as a cultural problem” (op/ed, July 13, 1999), without a controversy. It is in these kind of claims that mainstream racism lives on.

Racism exists. If we want a meritocracy, we need to recognize this. Affirmative action programs can be used to take this into account.


*This is not the justification I find compelling for affirmative action. If you are going to point out that there are poor Whites, reread my argument. You are not following it.

If there are two equally disadvantaged families, one white and one black, they should be given the same chance of assistance. It’s fine to have affirmative action programs, but when race is the sole determining criterion for these, I don’t think it’s unfair to call them racist.

Is this a bad thing? Admittedly, not all aspects of a given culture relate to the perceived problem, but the scope of the culture can approximate the scope of a highly toxic mindset. One could ultimately blame the presence of this mindset on “whitey,” but that’s beside the point.

Affirmative action should be changed from a race-based system to a socio-economic based system. The effect would still be to help certain minorities, but it wouldn’t give unwarranted advantages to the sons and daughters of wealthy African-Americans and Hispanics like it does now.

There’s a lot of sense in that, adaher, but discrimination DOES still happen on the basis of race, not just economics…

This is the type of question this thread really ought to be focusing on:


You wouldn’t? He’s implying that all whites are genocidal maniacs just because some were >100 years ago. Compare that to a whiter person saying “I’m a little nervous around blacks–I don’t trust them” because countless muggings have been committed by blacks.

Is it racist? Yes.

And as my example pointed out, there is a reason for whites not to trust blacks–they have a history of being criminals.

In both cases we’re judging individuals on the color of their skin rather than the content of their character.

Perhaps we can define “reverse racism” as a type of racism where you play up your own group’s sense of victimization and stereotype your target group as a buncha racists.

It would then follow that if I were to stereotype a group as “a buncha reverse racists” (as I have come very close to doing - coughO.J.cough) I would be guilty of “reverse reverse racism”.

Compare that to a whiter person…/quote]

Uh, nix the “r” on that.

I’m not a “junior” anything, my friend, and haven’t been for several decades now. I don’t appreciate being cursed, and the choices as I see them are (a) ignore it, (b) respond in kind, © bait the poster into really placing him/herself on the chopping block, (d) go tattle to the mods, or (e) try to steer the person clear of any further indiscretions. I was attempting to warn him/her off and save some grief, rather than engage in an exchange of vitriol, and to also let him/her know that I didn’t appreciate the attack. I’m not the sort of person to ignore personal attacks, but perhaps should be.

My apologies to Pike for allowing this ridiculous sidetrack to the debate to get out of hand.

Aren’t the most significant effects of racial discrimination economic and social? Are we to compensate for faintly psychological burdens?

I don’t know- can we call the burdens of being discriminated against “faintly psychological?” I’m not sure how one would separate one effect from another in any case.

How do the burdens manifest themselves? Socially and economically, I would say, and thus those factors should be the ones taken into consideration by affirmative action.

My apologies to Pike for allowing this ridiculous sidetrack to the debate to get out of hand. **

Thank you. I did feel that my post had taken on a life of its own. I think it is important that we focus on the issue and do our best to keep our pride out of it. Everyone please try to approach my question from an objective position as you are able to.

My apologies to Pike for allowing this ridiculous sidetrack to the debate to get out of hand. **

Thank you. The post has gotten away from the original question. Please answer the question yes or no and then qualify your answer. Lets not allow our pride and subjectivity to allow our discussion to become forum to make personal attacks against others.

You’re reverting to the same fallacious logic you started with–i.e., the economic disparity that exists between whites and blacks is because there are fewer blacks. This is still silliness. Yes, if there were a single job, it is less likely to be filled by a minority (all other things being equal).

But there’s not a single job. There are thousands of jobs, and on a level playing field, one might assume that minorities would be represented in roughly the same percentage that they fill in the overall population. They aren’t. One might also assume that minorities would receive comparable pay for comparable levels of education. They don’t. One might also make the leap of faith that blacks would have higher income if they worked more hours (within education bands). That would also be false.

And, just to be crystal clear, the fact that whites are on average better educated is further evidence of institutional racism, not–as you seem to believe–value-free data that simply explains away economic inequality. Or do you suppose that there are more white engineers because–well, why do you suppose that’s the case? Are whites harder working? Smarter? What’s your hypothesis?

If we assume that everyone has the same potential, then the only variables I can see are the following: differing cultures and the aftereffects of earlier racism.

How do you determine who has suffered from racism and in what capacity? And how should they be compensated through affirmative action (i.e., what kind of system would the universities use)?

What are you shooting for–is it equal representation or equal opportunity? Because you’ll only have equal representation when you eliminate all variables so that everyone is the same. Different races are prevalent in different fields because of culture.

If you only look at the results and say that there are more white computer programmers than black ones because of racism, that’s not proof. If that was true, I could say that there are more black basketball players because white players are discriminated against. Does that make it true? No.

** NesBit**

Quite simply, no. When you say stuff like this, the only reasonable thing to do is conclude you do not appreciate history (which is different than knowing facts on a page). Sorry if that’s insulting, but it’s the truth.

The majority of the population is white, true. The majority of the students is whites, true. The latter can attributed to the former, but not completely. This is the part that you are not getting. A good appreciation of history will clue you in as to why the number of blacks in higher education does not mirror that of the population.

So this means we aren’t actually talking about “reverse racism”, right? We’re not talking about racism at all.

I will repeat this again: You do not seem to have an appreciation for history. Interned Japanese are not analogous to African-Americans. Voluntary immigrants are not comparable to descendants of folks dragged over here and forced into slavery. As tempting as it is to lump all “minorities” into one big ole pile of brown people and call social equivalents, it is as wrong as comparing ostriches to butterflies just because they both have wings.

No school needs a “quota”. But if history has set up things so that one group has an advantage over other groups, how do you think we can counter that inertia in a timely, effective fashion, especially given that our society is one that bases earning potential off the number of degrees behind your name?

And? That was 1971. What does that have to do with this discussion?

Sorry if you were insulted, honestly. But when you attempt to explain away disparities with the kind of answers you’ve given, I don’t know what else to think. “White people make more money because there are more white people than black people?” Not only does this show a poor appreciation for history, but also some lacking in the statistical inference department as well. You should be speaking in terms of percentages rather than numbers.

Yes, because we all know racists are known for their ability to distinguish between people with different historical backgrounds as well as fruits that are round in shape.


Perhaps I am not following your argument. Are you arguing that whites are experiencing racism? If we are to say that affirmative action exists to correct racism, shouldn’t it be applied to those who experience racism.

Racism exists. Lower economic and educational opportunity is the effect of this racism. Affirmative action is compensating for the root cause, not the effect. Racism is still present as an obstacle, even if the particular individual has not felt the loss of economic or educational opportunity.

I have no trouble with programs designed to assist lower income students, regardless of race. That is because being lower income presents additional difficulty, and overcoming those difficulties should be recognized. It is not, however, the same obstacle as racism presents.

Am I being clearer? Affirmative action, as we have been talking about here*, is simply the recognition that minorities have to work harder than whites, even when compensating for economic factors to achieve the same level of success.

Enjoying the discussion,


*We seem to be limited to race based affirmative action, and not, for instance, gender based. Same argument applies. We have also not been talking of the bulk of affirmative action programs, which are simply active recruitment of minorities. Instead we have limited discussion to affirmative action programs in the hiring process itself.



We are to say that affirmative action exists to compensate for inequality, which is sometimes caused by racism. I am asking you, and others, “In what arenas does inequality manifest itself?”

Can you provide a single example of a professional, non-working class, non-sports, non-entertainment field (e.g., accountants, lawyers, engineers, consultants, scientists, etc.) where blacks are disproportionately paid and disproportionately represented?