Can Black people be racist?

Jomilla Newsom

Jomilla Newsom

America is currently locked in a passionate argument about whether some supporters of groups like Black Lives Matter are actually racist towards White people, with people from different sides of the political spectrum offering varying views.

The short answer is ‘no.’ Of course, Black people can’t be racist. Please allow me to explain why not by giving you history of the word.

The root of the word ‘racist’ is ‘race.’ One of the first efforts by Europeans to document human variation began with

French physician Francois Bernier’s Nouvelle Division de la Terre par les Differents Especes ou Races qui L’habitent, published in 1684. Loosely translated, it was entitled, A New Division of the Earth, According to the Different Species or Races of Men Who Inhabit It. Although there is a measure of uncertainty in the title about the appropriateness of the term ‘race’ versus ‘species’ to classify human variation, Bernier relied on categories based on outward physical characteristics such as skin color.

Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus’, formalized the distinction among the continental populations of the world and his work helped characterize the concept of race.

In the second half of the 19th century, Darwinism, the decline of Christian belief and growing immigration were all perceived by many White Westerners as a threat to their cultural control.

European and, to a lesser degree, American scientists and philosophers devised a false racial ‘science’ to ‘prove’ the supremacy of non-Jewish Whites. While the Nazi annihilation of Jews discredited most of these supposedly scientific efforts to elevate one race over another, small numbers of scientists and social scientists have continued throughout the 20th century to argue the inborn shortcomings of certain races, especially Blacks.

One important feature of racism, especially toward Blacks and immigrant groups and especially in America, is clear in attitudes regarding slaves and slavery. Jews are usually seen by anti-Semites as subhuman but also superhuman: devilishly cunning, skilled, and powerful. Blacks and others are seen by racists as merely subhuman, more like beasts than men. If the focus of anti-Semitism is evil, the focus of racism is inferiority—directed toward those who have sometimes been considered to lack even the ability to be evil.

White people made themselves the superior race and lived their lives as such, being racist to any other race that was ‘beneath’ them or seen as subhuman.

So basically if we examine the history of ‘race’ it was just a word created by a lot of ignorant, old, White men who thought they were better than any one else on the Earth, including White women, to divide us and make those of other non-White races seem inferior.

It’s actually in the English Oxford definition: “Racism—Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

All of these arguments are based on a false understanding of race. In fact, contemporary scientists are not agreed on whether race is a valid way to classify people. What may seem to be significant ‘racial’ differences to some people (skin color, hair, facial shape) are not of much scientific significance. In fact, genetic differences within a so-called race may be greater than those between races.

We are ultimately all the same. It is the system and the people who control it who created ‘racism’ and they are the ones who still live it today. Blacks and other races are just victims of a system that’s been against us since the first day it started.

A ‘Black racist’ is an oxymoron. Black people can’t be racist. Prejudice, yes, but not racist. Prejudice against White people is not ‘racism’, it’s ‘prejudice’ or ‘discrimination.’

Some might argue that they are the same thing, but racism is something else entirely. It’s a system that acts against people of color in this country (established through slavery and colonization). So yes, I would say there is a difference.

Have White people ever been slaves? Have White people ever been systematically disadvantaged as a group? No! With the exception of Jewish people, they have been privileged their entire lives living in a system that was created by their ancestors for them to strive and prosper.

Black people can’t be racist since we don’t stand to benefit from such a system. Racism (in America today) requires power and prejudice. White people have power to oppress Black people because they control the system and economic structure in society. And until that changes, Black people could never be seen as racist.