My Comments Re: Dr. Boyce Watkins
on Reverse Racism

What’s my objection? In a word. None. I have no argument with what the man is actually saying. It’s the sound byte. The headline. I’m on his email list. So a week or so ago it appeared. That headline zapped me.

dr-boyce-watkinsDear White People “Reverse Racism” is Not Real, So Stop Using the Term

Actually, I stopped using the term years ago because of the disconnect I’m about to delve into. He’s complaining about the way some White folks will dismiss the need for accommodations that offset the imbalances centuries of institutionalized racism have created. Denying accommodations by calling them racist is absurd.

I know about accommodations. I ask a simple one of the world it consistently denies me. It has to do with the awkward way the word ‘White’ applies to me. I am White, but I am also a genocided, extinct person living in Diaspora who chose to assimilate since childhood to the people here the most like us, who are, in fact, a tremendous resource for people like me.  Under the circumstances that’s a no-brainer accommodation. But rather than respecting it, the American world consistently attempts to either shame or exploit me over it.

The shaming is what the White people do. I’ve been a member of a Black household for most of the past 40 years. For six years I was even listed on some governmental documents as the head of a Black household. But most of those years the official head of the household was my spouse, and being a female, that meant I was with a Black man. White people shame such a woman shamelessly. They won’t even know they’re doing it, but I sure will.

But they’re not the ones I’m bitching about at the moment. I’m bitching about the exploiting. That’s where my hot button around the dismissed term “reverse racism” comes in. The term has actually been dismissed for a long time. We were talking about it forty years ago. And there are a number of ways to define it.

dear-white-peopleIn the movie, Dear White People, the main character, a young sister, has her school in an uproar challenging the White students about their racism. At one point she defines the term ‘reverse racism’ as being absurd, since “Black people can’t be racist.  Racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race.”

Then we get to the big denouement on the bridge when she confesses to the White boy who’s in love with her something she did to her dad, who by the way was also White. She describes an incident when she was being a spoiled brat little girl throwing a hissy fit in public. Her dad apparently wasn’t giving in to whatever she was demanding. Then she allowed some people to rush in and accuse him of being a threat to her. Like he was kidnapping her or something. She failed to defend him, her own father. As a grown woman, she still felt guilty about the way she betrayed him that day.

I don’t refer to that kind of behavior as reverse racism, though it is using race as a vehicle to take advantage of or inappropriately punish a White ally for corrupt reasons. I call it passing behavior.

The overwhelming majority of ‘White’ people in this country are ‘passing’ for White. They descend from people who were the Negroes in whatever Negro-sphere they were coming from, who accepted the great American delusion of White privilege. They are neither powerful nor privileged. On a personal level, they are thoroughly disempowered people.

They no longer have access to the emotional issues stemming from their abused heritage, issues that are hobbling them, issues they’ve projected onto the local Negroes, therefore those issues cannot be healed and will persist generationally. These issues have probably morphed into any number of maladies and dysfunctions, including child abuse. You will never see them becoming actualized free people. Ever. Seriously, can you picture a bigot into personal growth?

A red flag to me of internalized racism in a Black American is their envy of the genocide I just described. They want a chance to do the same, to ‘pass’ for someone able to go into denial about their own personal issues and project them onto other people as if those people were subhuman ‘others’ who don’t matter. And unfortunately, far too often, those White people who do ally themselves closely to Black people will become the recipients of that ‘other’ status. They will be vented on.

watkins-pattonDr. Boyce noted it himself, in one of his dialogues with Susan Patton. He commented that very often the White people who get the most flak from Black people will be the ones who least deserve it.

It can get very subtle, very unconscious. It can take years. You can wake up one day to the realization that someone you’ve known for years has, slowly but surely, done to you everything they complain about The White Man doing to them.

One-on-one there absolutely is reverse racism, whatever we choose to call it. And by whatever name we call it, it stinks.   It’s stinks for the person subjected to it, and it stinks for the person perpetrating it, because they are descending into the ultimate surrender to White racism.  They have become what they hate.

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