…according to a study in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
The study, called ‘Whites see racism as a zero-sum game that they are now losing‘, by Michael Norton and Samuel Sommers, suggests that white Americans surveyed think that they are now more widely discriminated against than black people, and that this supposed ‘anti-white bias’ is a bigger societal problem than the real anti-black bias. (This is an American-based study, and I think the problem is probably more prominent there, but since I only know the UK, and I see a similar trend happening over here, I will be using UK-based examples.)
After all of the wrongdoings of the past, governments are now at least trying to make society more equal for everyone, but the damage that has been done has penetrated society too deeply to disappear overnight. Ideas that black people and indeed people of other ethnicities are in some way inferior are ingrained in the collective consciousness, to the extent that when their position in society begins to improve, white people have started to cry ‘racism!’ Are we really selfish and shortsighted enough to convince ourselves that all along, all they were complaining about was the fact that white people had a more privileged position in society? Is history no longer taught in schools?
Many of my black friends have talked to me about the racism they experience in daily life, whether it’s a remark they have overheard from someone in the street, or discrimination by the authorities. A large proportion of my black friends have been subject to at least one stop and search by the police. As far as I know, none of my white friends have. Figures published in 2010 indicated that black people were seven times more likely to be stopped than white people.
These stops and searches under Section 44 were last January ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights for their arbitrary and widespread usage, as well as their disproportionate targeting of blacks and Asians. Now are we going to label this as racism against white people? Of course not, because it is utterly transparent that this was a case of inequality. So how can the same principle of removing inequality apply in other situations and be called ‘anti-white bias’?
This is how I see it. Most white people don’t even know they are white until they are in a room full of black people. They don’t have to; society holds them in a more privileged position by default, and in the past it was a rare occasion that a white person would find themselves in such a situation. Now, however, it is becoming more common.
Having used this example already, I will continue with it. The stop and search issue can be held at arms length and viewed relatively objectively by white people as inequality that needs to be extinguished. Why? Because it just doesn’t happen to white people. But when the situation for non-Caucasians starts to improve in other, less subtle ways, why is the reaction turned on its head?
I have seen this time and time again in previous jobs; the anecdote of the poor white person who lost out on a job opportunity to the black person who ‘wasn’t even as good at the job’. ‘Political correctness gone mad’, they say. Whenever I hear this it makes me cringe. Yes, there are guidelines to say that workforces (dependent on who applies) need to be representative of the general population, but why do I find it hard to believe that a less skilled person would be favoured over a more skilled person? From a productivity point of view, it doesn’t make sense for a company to employ an inferior applicant. Surely it’s more likely to be the case that the two people are equally skilled, but the white person doesn’t know how to react because it’s an unfamiliar situation they find themselves in, but in the name of improving standards of equality it has to happen. I suspect that if the job was given to another white person, then sure, the other candidate would be annoyed, and would probably make some digs about capability, but as soon as preference is given to a black person, the problem becomes about skin colour. It’s an easy target.
To cite another article:
a co-author of the study called the results “surprising.” That’s putting it mildly. But maybe we’ve missed the way white Americans have been systemically deprived of access and opportunities. Maybe we’ve overlooked all the times whites have been targeted by implicit and explicit race-baiting attacks, whether they’re playing professional sports or seeking elected office. Maybe we didn’t get the memo on the way the legacy of discrimination against white Americans continues to manifest itself in worse outcomes in income, home ownership, health and employment for them, the way white people are told they’re “objectively” ugly, and the disgust so many Americans felt the last time a white person ran for president.
Now imagine all this actually happening to a white person. Quite simply; it would not happen. The privileged position we hold is so blinkered to reality that it’s only when someone uses analogy like that displayed above that we realise it’s really not so bad after all. Yet some people will continue to complain. Please open your eyes. Try shutting up, listening and learning something. Racism is still a part of the daily life of non-white people, manifesting itself in all aspects of their lives.
So if you are a white person and you have read all this and disagree: Think you know racism? Think again.