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Reverse discrimination? - Privileges

About Reverse discrimination?

Previous Entry Reverse discrimination? Mar. 21st, 2006 @ 04:08 pm Next Entry
This is my take on reverse discrimination. Let me know what you think.

When you consider so many different types of privileges, how they overlap, and work with/against each other, it's easy to understand why individuals in a victimized group will have negative reactions towards the people with privilege, regardless of an individual's specific circumstances. This often gets called "reverse discrimination" because those who experience that reaction, feel they've done nothing wrong. But what if they have and just don't realize it?

Public Assistance is a good example and one that's popped up most frequently during earlier versions of this discussion. The racist believes all POC are living off of the government, abusing public assistance to avoid working. While many of us know that it's impossible to live off the government using public assistance, unless one commits to living in absolute squalor (at which point, that's not a choice, but another oppression of white and high-class privileges), the myth remains to perpetuate racist hatred against POC in low-income situations who need the extra help. All POC suffer from this myth, even the people not on any PA. As a result, when a WP walks into a PA office needing assistance, the obstacles they face in getting the same assistance is unbelievably more difficult than that of a POC, especially if the case managers are POC. Is this that infamous Reverse Racism? No. This is reactionary. A WP finally facing some kind of difficulty in doing something, like POC face with everything else. But the PA office isn't a place for race, it's a place for class. So, while the WP applying for PA may have some white privilege, they do not have the class privilege. All the white privilege in the world doesn't buy food for the family or pay medical bills. White men have the hardest time gaining any PA, even those on disability with undeniable documentation that they really need it.

Employment is another interesting situation. A white friend was recently promoted into a position and had to hire a few new employees. His boss (African-American) told him to hire a black person. After clarifying if he was under a legal responsibility to affirmative action to do so (he wasn't), he stated firmly that he would hire the person most qualified for the position, black/white man/woman. While it may seem so wrong for a boss to tell someone to hire a person of a particular race, it must be considered that affirmative action has become an inadequate method of forcing equality because racism has not been banished from our society, so additional compensations have to be made. If a white man can make an unbiased decision to hire the appropriate person, that's great, but it's so commonly not the case.

Poor white people? Poor victimized white men? Not quite. The buck still stops at the people who accept the advantages of their privilege and continue the cycle. Even WP who have no apparent racist traits still accept their privileges. Men who feel that women are equal in every way to them will still feast on the spoils of The Good Ol' Boys Club. So the cycle continues.

So-called "reverse discrimination" pops up when people neglect to consider how they're benefitting from discrimination and, as a result, are part of the problem. Because of this, every person who feels a victim of "reverse discrimination" and wrongly held accountable to the actions of bigots, has, very directly, contributed to the discrimination by accepting their privilege and deserves the feedback they receive from that.
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Date:March 24th, 2006 02:35 am (UTC)
You bring up excellent points, and these are all points that I've tried to get across to some of the AWM that I encounter almost daily.

On the employment issue, you touched on one of the biggest items that I hear about. I often hear anecdotal evidence of "more qualified" White Males passed over for a hire or promotion by a "less qualified" minority or woman (or worst case) woman minority. The a priori of these arguments is that by virtue of being a minority or a woman, the other canditate is obviously less qualified than the White dude. What the person making such an argument fails to realize is that their position is a bigoted one, even if the person making it is not conscious of his bigotry.

Another argument that I've seen came from some kid who is currently in a graduate program in the Carribean. He claims that because the island on which he is CURRENTLY living is 90% Black, he is a minority and thus can be the target of racism. I challenged him to examine the power structures on his island, as well as his status as an AMERICAN GRADUATE STUDENT on that island. No answer. I asked him about whether there was systematic discrimination against Whites on that island, either now or historically, and he refused to answer. He constantly came back with, "Well, Whites are only 10% of the population here...". Well, Whites were physically in the minority in South Africa, but they still had apartheid and its after effects still linger.

So, as you said, "reverse discrimination" or it's more insipid sibling, "reverse racism" does not exist primarily because the power component does not exist.
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