Opinion Column

THE DUEL

'Reverse-racism' is a myth of the powerful

By Garth Mullins, The Duel

Protesters holding placards take part in a rally in Parliament Square against US president Donald Trump's state visit to the UK on February 20, 2017 in London, England. MPs in the Houses of Parliament debate Mr Trump's state visit to the UK after a petition against it reached 1.8 million signatures. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Protesters holding placards take part in a rally in Parliament Square against US president Donald Trump's state visit to the UK on February 20, 2017 in London, England. MPs in the Houses of Parliament debate Mr Trump's state visit to the UK after a petition against it reached 1.8 million signatures. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Topics

This week's question: Is reverse-discrimination a thing?

Supposedly, racism is an endangered species and white men now face “reverse-discrimination.” This myth is deployed by the powerful to divide the working class, grow white nationalism and shut people up who are fighting real racism.

The corporate class has long used racism and nationalism to divide the rest of us and derail demands for better wages and working conditions for all. They’re happy for us to fight amongst ourselves while they rake in the profits.

For the past few centuries, colonialism enabled white people to run much of the planet. That power was baked into the institutions that still govern us today. Such power is never willingly given up and demands to share it are met with outrage and denial.

Most white Americans and nearly a quarter of white Canadians wrongly believe they now face the most serious racism. But white North Americans are still ahead in housing, income, education, careers, health, life expectancy and safety around police.

Read Brent Stafford's column here.

I am not dismissing the very real oppression and exploitation many white people face thanks to crappy jobs, sexism, disability, poverty or homophobia. But all that is compounded when you're not white.

I am not saying that one form of discrimination is worse than another or that some don’t count. They don’t stack up in a hierarchy. They intersect. This isn't a contest. Besides, change is more likely through solidarity than competition.

But the idea of “reverse-discrimination” is reverse-logic. It is - by definition - impossible. Discrimination is rooted in power - military, political, economic and cultural power  - wielded collectively by the powerful against everyone else. White people in the west have never been persecuted for skin colour alone and men aren’t oppressed just for being men.

Anyone from any background can have ignorant ideas. But this isn’t just a bad attitude or someone not being nice. What we’re talking about here is systemic, institutional. And history has not done a 180°. Those old systems and ideas are still with us. Some are now getting a shot in the arm.

U.S. President Donald Trump built his business empire on racism and screwing over working people. He campaigned on racism - and won the presidency. He helped rebirth the white nationalist movement, bringing them out of the basements and into the corridors of power.

Most of us aren’t powerful billionaires. We face various kinds of systemic barriers. We are better off fighting them together than buying into old conservative myths. 

Garth Mullins is a broadcaster, activist, writer, musician and trade unionist. He’s at www.garthmullins.com or @garthmullins.