The first time I heard the term “reverse racism” was back in college in the late 1970s, created and falsely promoted by some White students, and shared by some White professors who thought that Black students were taking spots away from them. They treat racism like a transmission shift gear, as if Blacks have the power to flip the racial switch.
Whether he created it or not, Allen Bakke probably used the term in his arguments when he sued the University of California after being denied for medical school for “minority candidates with lesser qualifications.” The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court in 1978 that said racial quotas can’t be used, and set up a legal basis for future affirmative action cases and state-passed laws to limit or kill its intended purpose.
Let’s refresh ourselves on what racism means: The belief that all members of a race possess characteristics that’s inferior or superior to another race or races. The Urban Dictionary simplified it as “irrational bias” toward a particular group of people. Some define racism as “inherent superiority.”
If these definitions are in fact true, where or when did reverse racism occur? President Barack Obama notwithstanding (and we know the first Black president hasn’t been able to do so in his two terms in office), name one Black person in this country who has that much power to reverse centuries of American racism to now favor Blacks?
Occasionally, this oxymoronic term creeps into sports. Earlier this month, Terrell Jermaine Starr of http://www.theshadowleague.com wrote that a couple of Black sports columnists suggested that a White college football player may have been passed over for a prestigious award because of his skin color in favor of a Black player.
Jason Whitlock of Fox Sports claimed that Christian McCaffrey “will win the Heisman in a landslide” next year “because he’s a White running back. We, the media, like the racial underdog narrative.”
But Starr disagreed with the “White athletes being underappreciated” jazz, and so do I. “There is no racial bias against White athletes,” wrote Starr. Even more so, since the majority of Heisman voters are White, the reverse racism vote argument doesn’t pass the smell test.
It wasn’t that long ago when Black quarterbacks had to switch positions because of their race. As late as this past summer, we talked about Major League Baseball’s unwritten Jim Crow practices when it comes to grooming future managers. And Dr. Richard Lapchick’s annual racial report cards have noted a racial rollback in key front office and coaching positions in virtually every pro and college sport.
S.E. Smith in the DailyDot.com calls reverse racism as “(a) response to angry language, to protests, to fights for equality” by Blacks and other people of color. Smith adds that “accusations of reverse racism often come in hot and heavy” on websites.
Honestly, for reverse racism to occur in this country, this would mean that Blacks and other people of color have finally reached full equality, that have successfully wrested away the power and privilege mantel that Whites have held for so long. For those who believe this, to quote that great philosopher Snagglepuss – “Exit, stage right.”
Finally, it’s bad enough when Whites whine about reverse racism when things don’t go their privileged way. It’s worse when we see Blacks tap-dancing to this whining as well.
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.