Note: This subject is intended to serve as an opposition to the article “Reverse Discrimination is the Real Racism,” published by blogger BetteroffwithTrump. To read the original article, click HERE. I strongly disagree with the entire sentiment and tone of the article, but I think it’s imperative to read it in addition to this to gain perspective.
I recently read an article by a white person which insisted, “We’ve all felt it” with regards to being passed up for a job or losing a spot on a sports team to a less-qualified person of color. I’ve never “felt it.” And it’s possible that I’ve just been lucky enough to escape the crosshairs of the oppression of the overlooked white race. But what’s far more likely – I’ll even venture to say definitive – is that I’ve avoided any racial self-realization because I, along with my predominantly white friends, relatives, and effectively all white people, have never been the target of discrimination. In fact, were I not to be so myopic I might realize the great disparity around me: the racism (yes, the real racism) that has afforded me opportunity and freedom from consequence, sometimes at the expense of others.
The original article pulls at the heartstrings of the perpetually oppressed white American. Following the “we’ve all felt it” relatability pitch, the author fades into a Rube Goldberg-esque maze of unrelated and hyper exaggerated claims that seek pity for white people who are overlooked due to Affirmative Action and reverse discrimination. The author pinballs from the plight of white, qualified families to the unfair treatment of our president because of his whiteness to the bias of teachers and authority figures to believe black students over white students. If, as Trump said, it’s a dangerous time to be a young man in America, it must be an extremely dangerous time for white men.
Only it isn’t.
It isn’t lost on me that Affirmative Action policies might seem unfair in certain light and may have influenced decisions which knock certain white people down a rung or two. But Affirmative Action isn’t just for legislative optics. Post-slavery, post-Jim Crow era laws, white people are still disproportionately afforded luxuries that minorities aren’t. Statistics indicate that the United States’ prison population is around 2.3 million, and that black males are six times more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts (https://www.openinvest.co/blog/statistics-prison-america/). Considering something like drug crimes, which make up a large proportion of the incarcerated population, black and brown people are disproportionately arrested and tried even though the usage rates is about the same among their white counterparts. Regarding education, geography and wealth have a tremendous impact on the opportunity afforded a child. Statistics notwithstanding, look no further than my personal experience. There isn’t the slightest shred of evidence that Affirmative action (or “reverse discrimination”) impacted my upbringing and education. My parents were never incarcerated. Their parents were never incarcerated. And affluence assisted my educational endeavors. By the standards my parents set, I underperformed in high school. I failed to live up to my academic potential, dropping most honors classes and hoping to ride my cross-country accolades into a prestigious school. And it worked. I was accepted by all but one of the schools to which I applied. My eventual school of choice, Saint Vincent College, was 83% white. Surrounded by like-minded, similarly dressed, teammates in the same income bracket sealed one certainty: I’d never need to think about race. How was reverse discrimination to hold me back when there wasn’t a trace of its existence in my education, let alone my life?
Naturally, let’s switch to Donald Trump. While I realize this might appear to be a non-sequitur, it attempts to follow the far-from-seamless transitions of the original article. Trump, the article whines, is the “first president to be a victim of reverse discrimination.” First off, no. The president is many things; he is not, however, a victim. The “support” behind this claim is the fact that Donald Trump was born into wealth and that he has been a successful businessman, and therefore, because he does not come from humble beginnings, he is discriminated against. I want to put everything in quotations, so my readers understand these spectacularly absurd claims are not my own. As a white male, I can assure you that the president’s upbringing has so little to do with why I cannot stand him. His successful businesses do not horrify me. His open racism, blatant disrespect for others, oppressive and damning legislation, and many other characteristics, do. It’s important to be nuanced here; many politicians are scorned because they are viewed as “elites;” they come into power and retain power by raising money and keeping lobbyists in their pockets. President Obama faced the same criticism, and justifiably so. Buy we don’t see Donald Trump as a bully because he is a well-established building developer (tallest building in New York City after 9/11!), but because of the way he openly mocks colleagues, reporters, and immigrants, many of whom are suffering in the wake of severe crises. As it’s been written, “They also accuse him of being racist for saying words that others say; but when Trump says them, it’s always racist.” While this is incredibly hard to decipher, I think it’s symbolic of the author’s subconscious awareness that the president is racist. When he insults people because of their color or country of origin or passes legislation that seeks to ban Muslims because of their religion, that, not his business acumen or his millions of dollars, make him a terrible human being.
Although nearly every sentence in the original blog post made me cringe, one of the biggest offenders was this: “(P)rincipals and teachers will take the word of a Black student over the word of a White student for fear of backlash from their parents.” A pitiful blanket statement, this seems to be a common argument – not formed from evidence – but generally by an email chain your racist uncle forwards to the family. In fact, considering who teachers – and, in the grander scheme, authority figures – believe, I’m tempted to consider who, between a black and white student, is offered the opportunity to state their case.
When I was nineteen years old, I threw a house party because my parents were out of town. A crew of Abercrombie-clad, underage white teens flocked my parents’ house, toting beverages and, for some, weed and paraphernalia. Singing along to Biz Markee and playing beer pong, our group was suddenly rattled when two police officers showed up to shut the party down. Soberingly, we faced the officers, handing over our identification cards with full knowledge that everything we were doing was illegal. But as the cops scanned our IDs, they had one simple command. “Nobody drives home,” they demanded, and then drove off. They didn’t need our word. Without speaking, our affluent, white, college-aged group had unconsciously convinced these authority figures to “take our word.”
In February of 2012, a young black boy named Trayvon Martin was walking through his neighborhood legally, unarmed, and carrying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of soda. According to Wikipedia (the preferred source of the original article), Skittles and soda are legal in all fifty states and Puerto Rico. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watchman, approached Martin even after his superiors had directed him not to pursue. Zimmerman, for reasons unknown, defied his orders and, though what happened in between is not perfectly clear, shot and killed Trayvon Martin. This story, to me, is emblematic of the disparity that exists. Do authority figures really “take the word of a Black student over the word of a White student?” How are we to take Trayvon Martin’s word? Trayvon is like us partygoers in that we never spoke to tell our side of the story. But then our stories differ. Authorities saw us, trusted us, and gave us an inexplicable pass for breaking the law. The same authorities never offered Trayvon, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, or Eric Garner the same luxury. Most of them had not broken the law. We had. But we turned the music back up in the garage as they were hauled away in body bags.
It’s comfortable to make blanket remarks about “the left” and “the right,” about people who leech off the system and ride “reverse discrimination” to the top while hardworking Americans suffer. It’s convenient to recycle lines from a forward of a forward of a forward of an email from your uncle about how the left “rewards children of color, migrants, or presumed disadvantage over those who played by the rules.” (grammatical errors not my own). Be born white. I played by that rule. My awareness of my own privilege is but a drop in the bucket when likened to the experiences of millions of people oppressed on basis of their race, gender, orientation, country of origin, among many others. My knowledge of “reverse discrimination” is even less than that. Not only have I not experienced it, I’m not entirely sure it exists. The original article included a call to action, an insistence that we call out reverse discrimination wherever we see it. I’ll agree to my due diligence there. But let’s also call out areas in which privileged white people bemoan their bad luck due to socialist policies that discriminate against law abiding, white citizens in favor of lazy people of color who take advantage of the system. Or, to put it bluntly: let’s call out racism.